CBS seizes confidential files of fired reporter following Hunter Biden's laptop story in 'unprecedented'

A popular CBS correspondent who was investigating the Hunter Biden laptop scandal before she was fired last week has had her personal files seized by the network in an “unprecedented” move, sources told The Post on Thursday.

Kathryn Herridge — who was in the middle of a First Amendment case being closely watched by reporters across the country — was among 20 CBS News employees laid off as part of a larger purge of hundreds of employees at parent company Paramount Global.

Her firing stunned co-workers, but the network's decision to keep her personal material, along with a work laptop where she may have other confidential information, has left many employees shaken, according to insiders.

CBS has confiscated the computer and confidential files of Catherine Herridge, who was ousted last week as part of widespread layoffs. Nathan Posner/Shutterstock

“It's very extraordinary,” a source familiar with the situation told The Post, noting that the files — which are now supposedly owned by CBS News — likely contain classified material from Herridge's tenures at both Fox and CBS.

The source said the network had stored all of her personal belongings except for Herridge's notes and files and told her it would decide what – if anything – would be returned to her.

“They never seize the documents [when you’re let go]A second source close to the network said. “They want to see what harmful documents she has.”

A CBS spokesperson responded to claims that the network plans to keep any sensitive information about Herridge.

“We respected her request not to view the files, and out of concern for confidential sources, the office she occupied has remained secure since she left,” the representative told The Washington Post.

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

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

Herridge is under fire for not complying with U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper's order to disclose how she learned of a federal investigation into a Chinese American scientist who ran a graduate program in Virginia.

The journalist may soon be held in contempt of court for not revealing her source in an investigative article she wrote in 2017 when she was working at Fox News.

She could be required to pay fines that could total up to $5,000 per day in person.

Insiders said there were concerns that CBS could be subpoenaed to reveal the identity of its source, which would threaten the principles of a free press.

Katherine Herridge is in the midst of a First Amendment case that is being closely watched by reporters across the country due to the Hunter Biden laptop scandal.

“This is a company that just plays checkers. They don’t play chess,” said the second source. “They don’t understand the consequences of their actions.”

Herridge did not respond to requests for comment.

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

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

Herridge faced roadblocks from senior officials over her coverage of Hunter Biden and also clashed with CBS News President Ingrid Cibrian Matthews, an acrimonious executive who was investigated — and acquitted — in 2021 over nepotism and discriminatory hiring and management practices, the Post reported. Earlier.

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

Insiders were shocked by the release of Herridge – a well-known journalist – adding that the seizure of her files was “unprecedented”. AP

Jonathan Turley – Legal researcher and former CBS legal analyst, who first reported on the seizure of Herridge V. documents Opinion piece for The Hill He said that the timing of the journalist’s termination raises doubts.

“She was following stories that were not welcomed by the Biden White House and many Democratic forces, 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 feedback and make the files available if needed in future connections, but leaving sensitive documents in the hands of unnamed CBS officials could put Herridge's many other confidential sources at risk.

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

Herridge is currently fighting the First Amendment case, protecting the identity of the source. Catherine Herridge/X

Turley said CBS's “draconian approach” to the files was a “terrible mistake” and that it “sent a chilling signal through the ranks” of the network.

A source familiar with the issue said that SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents CBS employees, is “concerned” about CBS' move and how it could affect journalistic practices and source confidentiality.

A SAG-AFTRA representative did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but told Turley: “It is a matter of principle. It is a matter of grave concern. We are considering all of our options.”

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