CBS Seizes Files of Fired Reporter in ‘Unprecedented’ Move

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The acclaimed CBS reporter who was investigating the Hunter Biden laptop scandal before she was fired last week had her personal files seized by the network in an “unprecedented” move.

Catherine Herridge — who is the middle of a First Amendment case being closely watched by journalists nationwide — was among 20 CBS News staffers let go as part of a larger purge of hundreds of employees at parent company Paramount Global.

Her firing had stunned co-workers, but the network’s decision to hold on to her personal materials, along with her work laptop where she may have other confidential info, has left many staffers shaken, according to insiders.

“It’s so extraordinary,” a source familiar with the situation told The Post, noting that the files — which are presumptively now the property of CBS News — most likely contain confidential material from Herridge’s stints at both Fox and CBS.

The source said the network boxed up all her personal belongings except for Herridge’s notes and files and informed her that it would decide what — if anything — would be returned to her.

“They never seize documents [when you’re let go],” a second source close to the network said.

“They want to see what damaging documents she has.”

A CBS spokesperson pushed back on claims that the network plans to keep any sensitive information belonging to Herridge.

“We have respected her request to not go through the files, and out of our concern for confidential sources, the office she occupied has remained secure since her departure,” the rep told The Post.

“We are prepared to pack up the rest of her files immediately on her behalf – with her representative present as she requested.”

Sources feared the network’s actions could have an impact on Herridge’s First Amendment case because her documents may contain privileged conversations she had with her lawyers or the identities of sources.

CBS seized the computer and confidential files of Catherine Herridge, who was ousted last week among broader layoffs.
CBS seized the computer and confidential files of Catherine Herridge, who was ousted last week among broader layoffs.Nathan Posner/Shutterstock

Herridge is under fire for not complying with US District Judge Christopher Cooper’s order to reveal how she learned about a federal probe into a Chinese American scientist who operated a graduate program in Virginia.

The journalist may soon be held in contempt of court for not divulging her source for an investigative piece she penned in 2017 when she worked for Fox News.

She could be ordered to personally pay fines that could total as much as $5,000 a day.

Insiders said that there are concerns that CBS could be subpoenaed to reveal her source’s identity, which would threaten free press principles.

“This is a company that only plays checkers. They don’t play chess,” the second source said.

“They don’t understand the ramifications of their actions.”

Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, is seen as he makes a surprise appearance at a House Oversight Committee markup and meeting
Catherine Herridge is in the middle of a First Amendment case being closely watched by journalists nationwide over Hunter Biden’s laptop scandal.REUTERS

Herridge did not return requests for comment.

The Post reached out to Fox, which sources said is paying for Herridge’s legal counsel, for comment on the concerns raised in the seizure.

The network, which is owned by The Post’s sister company, did not respond.

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Herridge had encountered roadblocks from higher-ups over her Hunter Biden coverage and had also clashed with CBS News President Ingrid-Ciprian Matthews, a sharp-elbowed executive who was investigated — and cleared — in 2021 over favoritism and discriminatory hiring and management practices, as The Post previously reported.

The second source speculated that the network may think Herridge has information in her files that could lead to a lawsuit for wrongful termination

People walking by CBS Broadcast center on 57th street in New York, a CBS Solutions media building with a blue wall and sign on it.
Insiders were shocked that Herridge–an acclaimed journalist–was let go, adding that the seizure of her files is “unprecedented.”AP

Jonathan Turley — a legal scholar and a former CBS legal analyst who first broke the news of Herridge’s documents being seized in an opinion piece for The Hill — said the timing of the journalist’s termination raised suspicions.

“She was pursuing stories that were unwelcomed by the Biden White House and many Democratic powerhouses, including the Hur report on Joe Biden’s diminished mental capacity, the Biden corruption scandal and the Hunter Biden laptop,” Turley wrote.

Under normal circumstances, journalists are entitled to their notes and make available the files if needed in future ligation, but leaving sensitive documents in the hands of unnamed CBS officials, could compromise Herridge’s numerous other confidential sources.

It also potentially violates HIPAA laws, as her files may also contain personal and family medical records.

Catherine Herridge
Herridge is currently battling a First Amendment case, in which she is protecting the identity of a source.Catherine Herridge/X

Turley said CBS’ “heavy-handed approach” to the files” is “dead wrong” and that it had “sent a chilling signal in the ranks” of the network.

SAG-AFTRA, the union which represents CBS staffers, condemned the network for seizing Herridge’s notes and research from her office.

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“This action is deeply concerning concerning to the union because it sets a dangerous precedent for all media professionals and threatens the very foundation of the First Amendment,” the union said in a statement to The Post.

The union added it has been in touch with CBS News and is hopeful the matter “will be resolved shortly.”

source: nypost.com/cbs-seizes-confidential-files-of-fired-reporter

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