Court Rules Fox Reporter Doesn’t Have To Reveal Her Confidential Sources

“Today’s ruling is a major win for all journalists,” said Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.

Doug Pensinger / Getty

New York’s State Court of Appeals ruled 4-3 Tuesday that Fox reporter Jana Winter does not have to travel to Colorado to testify in the trial of shooting suspect James Holmes.

“Today’s ruling is a major win for all journalists,” said Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. “The protection of Jana Winter’s confidential sources was necessary for the survival of journalism and democracy as a whole. We are very grateful that the highest court in New York State agreed with our position.”

Winter broke a story in July for FoxNews.com that Holmes had sent a notebook to a psychiatrist before the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., according to an unnamed law enforcement source. Winter was subpoenaed to return to Colorado to testify. If she did not reveal her anonymous source, she could have faced jail time.

Because Winter lives in New York, a New York court had to approve Colorado’s subpoenas.

“[P]rotection of the anonymity of confidential sources is a core — if not the central — concern underlying New York’s journalist privilege, with roots that can be traced back to the inception of the press in New York,” court documents read. “[T]there is no principle more fundamental or well-established than the right of a reporter to refuse to divulge a confidential source.”

“I heart New York,” Winter tweeted following the ruling.

Ed.: Judge Robert Smith, associate judge of the New York Court of Appeals, is the father of BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith.

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