Should Shield Law Apply to Joe Muto?

Poynter’s Steve Meyers writes about whether New York’s Shield Law is applicable to Joe Muto…

A key legal issue, Leslie said, is whether Muto is being investigated for breaking the law by taking something from Fox News or for publicizing what he obtained. “If they’re going after him solely because he went to Gawker, then … that’s when the privilege would kick in. The privilege would help him more if what he did wasn’t illegal per se, but they didn’t like that it was publicized.”

So it would be easier for Muto to argue for the protection of information he obtained while at Fox News – say, his knowledge of what it’s like to work with Hannity, or photos of the bathroom – than materials taken from the company without permission, such as videos. The search warrant says that Fox News believes that Muto accessed and edited more than 10 videos like the ones that were posted on Gawker. (Leslie doesn’t know what Muto’s employment agreement specified.)

Even so, Leslie said, “Fox should tread very lightly before saying someone who works for a private company or another organization has a duty to never disclose that.” Employees’ decisions “of when to disclose information is very beneficial to journalists, even Fox News journalists.”


10 Responses to “Should Shield Law Apply to Joe Muto?”

  1. Leaking stuff from your employer isn’t journalism. I see no reason why the shield law should apply.

  2. I tend to agree. It’s not like the ABC scenario where journalists went to work undercover with the sole purpose of trying to get information. This was an employee who didn’t go to work with the expressed purpose of digging up info on FNC.

  3. I have to wonder what kind of non-disclosure terms are in his contract.

  4. ^ I think that’s exactly right. Muto can probably say anything he wants about the interactions among other FNC employees that he’s observed and remembers but any physical or intellectual property he takes out of there is criminal.

  5. another visit by the same horse.

  6. missy5537 Says:

    This type of story really snaps my cookies.

  7. Should shield law apply?

    Uh, no. He thought he’d be cute and pull one on Fox News. Not only was he clumsy, he didn’t really deliver the goods. Reap the consequences of your actions.

  8. And those consequences are losing his job, possibly being prosecuted, maybe a civil lawsuit (to make sure he’s paying News Corp for decades to come), never getting hired because nobody can trust him… for pocket money.

  9. Surely this is a matter for the LNC. The whole shield law conundrum needs to addressed from a logistical perspective to bring the situation under control. Come on guys!


  10. It’s a long long time, from April to September…

    Frank Sinatra

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