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Developing right now -- court case challenging the limits of freedom of the press and America.
A Fox News reporter now faces possible jail time for doing her job and covering one of the most difficult and biggest stories we have seen in recent times.
Last summer a gunman killed twelve people and wounded dozens during a horrific mass shooting at an Arora Colorado movie theater.
Fox News immediately sent reporters to the scene including our own John a winter she reports for foxnews.com.
Not long after she hit the ground in Colorado she broke an exclusive story.
Revealing that prior to the shooting.
The suspected gunman James -- sent the package to University of Colorado psychiatrist doctor Lyn Benton.
And that package contained a notebook with drawings of a massacre showing gun wielding stick figures firing on a crowd.
Winter story cited unnamed law enforcement sources.
And that threw an immediate response.
From James Holmes -- defense team.
They said the leak.
Violated their client's right to a fair trial and violated -- gag order that had been imposed by the judge.
And they are now trying to force.
It's Fox News reporter John -- winter to reveal her sources.
She's refusing because she protects you.
Not anybody else she writes for you.
And she's fighting a judge's order to appear in a Colorado court and give up her source.
Where she may be given the choice by -- judge of either going against her principles revealing her confidential source against -- promises.
Are going to jail.
Joining me now to discuss a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Judith Miller.
Judy spent 85 days in jail in 2005 after she refused to reveal her sources.
In an investigation into a leak that -- an undercover CIA analyst.
Also joining me now as Floyd Abrams -- -- he represented Judy but he is considered by many including yours truly.
To be the greatest First Amendment attorney in America.
Again he represented -- and he is also the author of the book.
Friend of the court on the front lines with the First Amendment which comes out next month it's great to have you both here it is this is very serious situation because John -- Could literally go to jail.
If she stands on principle and honors her promise to her source and says I'm to this judge I'm not giving up my source we don't know -- the judge did order her to do that.
Gonna find out next week let me start with you -- -- Judy.
I covered you.
When you -- in this situation and we all wondered what you do will this woman will this revered journalist actually go and sit in the slammer.
For an -- determined amount of time rather than reveal her source.
What made you choose to do it and how hard was that for you to now and it's in theory it's great to out do -- I'd do it but you really did it.
Well I I -- that it's a choice that no journalist should have to make having done it.
It was a very difficult decision but knowing how indispensable.
Confidential sources are to what we do.
I really felt that I didn't have a choice.
And I just kind of mourned the fact that this many years after I went to jail we are still arguing about.
Whether or not -- gonna have to make this choice because we don't have.
A federal shield law that.
It prevents journalists from having to make it's -- this state by state that -- -- -- state by -- issue and the lot in Colorado is actually not good for journalists.
It doesn't provide a lot of First Amendment protection.
If she were in New York she'd be much better off and and so it's it's just kind of sad to me that we haven't made more progress on this issue.
I want until that is when when John broke -- story was a big deal and nobody had the information I mean if she she she comes out of foxnews.com with this information and we were all.
Like wow what this -- exists is very much in the news every -- know that the shooter what happened this is just to get your flavor this is that here we are in America live.
Moments after the information came out thanks to -- -- watch.
Fox News alert now an exclusive reporting from foxnews.com.
The man accused of killing twelve people.
And wounding dozens more almost a week ago at a Colorado movie theater.
May have forecast his plans.
That was thanks to her life and now because of that reporting she could go to jail this judge comes down the wrong way.
-- she did exactly what -- journalists are supposed to do.
She got a story it was a very important story on a very important continuing.
And now she's she on the list.
Perhaps being jail.
What what will be the governing factor as this judge looks at the Colorado shield law which is not as strong as we'd like it to be -- as strong -- your New York.
What's gonna determine whether he makes -- tries to -- -- reveal the source.
I think it'll be the judge's decision.
About how to read -- sort of first element in the Colorado -- law which which says that in order to require a journalist.
To provide the sort of information that's really got to be essential for the case.
Now what kind of -- isn't essential for the case.
-- -- -- law enforcement officer one talked about this journal that was sent -- psychiatrist what she knows is relevant to this another issue.
Which is was a court order violated.
I somebody -- final again and override.
But it really doesn't bared all on guilt or innocence or what happens at that at the trial.
And you know I guess I hope.
That the judge should when the judge has a chance to look at this read the briefs here in the lawyers argue.
Mike conclude that.
This just isn't the sort of case where you ought to put a journalist.
Yeah I think that the defendants' attorneys offered to have plead guilty I mean this isn't a situation where we have to say our.
You know easy -- -- did he do it you have to make sure that we yeah I mean this is a side issue about whether Kopp talked in -- I don't think there's any argument that this has so prejudice the trial.
Of the defendant here.
That because of what the journalist didn't do the very.
They can't be a fair trial that that's nonsense -- might have what is public.
About what the defendant was prepared to plead to.
Any help us understand because you know I I don't know -- our viewers necessarily care about what happened to Judy Miller what happens to to -- -- but they need to care.
It it because more and more we are seeing sense.
These courts crack down on reporters and try to make them violate their ethics.
Give up their confidential sources and if that happens should be evident she she as a realistic matter will never gonna -- to -- -- to get.
To -- or anything again.
If she has to do and she does it.
If she doesn't.
But that's why John so far has maintained that she can't do it because literally her career would be over if she did.
I mean even when I went to jail after I came out.
Some people would say to me you know the atmosphere is getting so.
So tough I'm not sure I can talk to you it's getting harder and harder.
For investigative -- to work with -- without the threat -- journal jail hanging over you.
So the stand she's taking now on principle is very very important for journalism and for a free press -- And we are in a situation now where that that this president has indicted more -- -- to the press.
Than any other president in history.
And some people like to see that some people like to see you know you -- -- you talk you embarrass the government you pay the price.
But there is another price -- gets paid in terms of the public getting information.
Absolutely because when an administration or government can manipulate information when it decides.
What the American public is entitled and knowing what they're not entitled to know.
Then they have very extraordinary control.
Over the message -- over over a democracy and that's.
-- we have a free press.
To counter that the president constituted a little it's the First Amendment.
But criminal defendants rates are -- prosecution as well as there's a battle now between where you know where you draw the line.
What what is likely to happen Floyd if this judge and we hope this judge is not rule against -- -- but if he tries to force her.
To to give up the source and she says no.
Then what's gonna happen to her will she go to jail how long would she likely have to sit there and how would it will ultimately -- -- your experience.
Well the first thing I think that would happen without her lawyer would say look please don't senator -- now want to let us appeal.
-- to see if if if your order is upheld.
And some judges will do that friend and there's no real rush in this situation.
There's again no one wants tended to be a witness in this case I mean she doesn't know anything now about more than any of us do.
About the guilt or innocence or what happened -- who did -- you -- -- or should -- -- so exactly she knows who are sources.
And there ought not to be any great rush to do that so again.
Hopefully I why do we need to get to the bottom immediately who violated the gag order and has dried issue in the case but.
At the judge doesn't.
Do that -- a judge orders her to answer she refuses to answer.
And he wont to do anything but never taken away.
And shackles to a Judy was.
The the idea of this usually.
Is that she's supposed to stay.
Until she talks.
That's one of the problems -- took the problem is.
It can go on and on and on until the judges persuaded.
She's never use -- never improvements.
And that thirty period of months cells -- along that are that could be months and longer -- in your case ultimately your source gave you permission.
To tape reveal who we what's right and Internet and -- that are related Libyan you and you talked about that and you testified that how.
As the months went -- and you're sitting in that jail I mean did you feel like you needed to.
Ask him to let you do this I mean at some point you've got to say.
I'm not spending the rest of my life in prison I have family I have friends on.
This was criminal contempt of court case so.
There was an express period of time that could have been extended yes the pressure grows when your engine now.
To make a deal and to change your mind that's what it's all about and that's why China has to be very sure.
What she wants to do before she ever answers this -- you talk about it and what was it like -- this respected journalists.
Honored to award winning journalist is shot in jail and they what they put the jumpsuit what was that like for you well I tried to view it as say reporting opportunity.
What is the jail like what are my fellow inmates like I bet that if -- did at first week.
Well if I -- I learned a lot about popular culture hand rap music.
I thought I thought television I've never seen before.
It was you know it was not a pleasant experience it is one -- mission in China or any any other report.
But I can say that there are -- things which is losing the confidence of the people we need to tell it's the story to the American people.
Thank you both so much for being here.