keeping our reporting tools out of
the hands of law-enforcement is a version of the
Fifth Amendment, carte blanche
for journos to break the law with impunity. It's not like Chen is just protecting his sources or sensitive unpublished material. Instead, he's protecting himself as one potential target of a criminal investigation.
This got us thinking. What other sorts of socially and legally unacceptable behavior might be protected under the Shield Law if Gawker's argument holds? Let's say I go on a brutal killing spree and subsequently post a flip-cam video of my adventures as a City Bright on the San Francisco Chronicle website. Are my unpublished footage, ceremonial butcher knives, and black leather gloves also exempt from police investigation? If I film a hard-hitting documentary about my personal penchant for
burning down schools, perhaps I can throw myself upon the altar of the
First Amendment, claiming the Shield Law's protection.