Milo Yiannopoulos Defends Basic Traditions of Journalism
In Sines v. Yiannopoulos, decided Wednesday by Judge Katherine Polk Failla (S.D.N.Y.), several people—all plaintiffs in a lawsuit over injuries at the Charlottesville Unite the Right—are trying to compel Milo Yiannopoulos “to disclose the identity of a confidential source who [Yiannopoulos] says has relevant documents” related to Richard Spencer. Yiannopoulos has said “that his source had played clips of responsive audio and video files, and shown him a screen where he could see that additional files existed.” But Yiannopoulos is refusing to testify about his source, based on the journalist’s privilege, which Second Circuit precedent recognizes.
The court describes the privilege, which is qualified, not absolute:
“The privilege may be invoked by an individual “involved in activities traditionally associated with the gathering and dissemination of news, even though he may not ordinarily be a member of the institutionalized press.” However, to invoke the privilege, an individual must be acting in “the role of the independent press” when “collecting the information in question.” Furthermore, “the talisman” for invoking “the journalist’s privilege is intent to disseminate to the public at the time the gathering of information commences.”
Once established, the federal journalist’s privilege is a qualified one and may be overcome. However, the protection accorded by the privilege “is at its highest when the information sought to be protected was acquired by the journalist through a promise of confidentiality.” To protect the “important interest of reporters in preserving the confidentiality of [their] so
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