Fired reporter to testify CBS News crossed ‘red line’ by taking her files

A longtime journalist laid off by CBS News this year will speak out about her firing for the first time on Thursday at a hearing in Congress and plans to criticize the network for taking files containing confidential source information.

Catherine Herridge, a former senior investigative correspondent, will appear as a witness before a House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee hearing on press freedom issues and say that her former employer encroached on her rights, according to her opening statement, obtained by the Washington Examiner.

“CBS News’ decision to seize my reporting records crossed a red line that I believe should never be crossed by any media organization,” Herridge will say.

Herridge had a high-profile role at CBS News beginning in 2019 and, prior to that, had worked at Fox News since the 1990s. She became known for covering national security issues and, more recently, investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden.

Her firing became a source of controversy after several reports indicated that CBS News “seized” her items, including confidential source information, upon her termination. Herridge plans to explain what happened to lawmakers during Thursday’s hearing.

“When  I  was  laid  off  in  February,  an  incident  reinforced  in  my  mind  the  importance  of protecting confidential sources,” Herridge plans to say. “CBS News locked me out of the building and seized hundreds of pages of my reporting files, including confidential source information. Multiple sources said they were concerned that by working with me to expose government corruption and misconduct they would be identified and exposed.”

When CBS News was previously pressed by Congress on Herridge’s dismissal, the network adamantly denied that it had “seized” her files and said it handled her termination in a normal manner.

Human resources department staff retrieved Herridge’s personal belongings from her office, such as books, clothing, and awards, to return to her, “but at no time did anyone review any of the files or other materials,” a CBS News representative wrote to Congress.

“Contrary to several false press reports, absolutely none of Ms. Herridge’s files were ‘seized.’ Rather, CBS acted to secure and protect the material in Ms. Herridge’s office,” the representative said, adding that the network returned her items after her union, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, took issue with CBS News about the matter.

Herridge’s concerns about her termination also come as she appeals a judge’s decision in February to hold her in civil contempt for refusing to unmask the source of a series of reports she did at Fox News on a scientist’s alleged ties to the Chinese military.

The judge imposed an $800-per-day fine on Herridge until she provides the name of the source who disclosed to her private information about the scientist, but the fine is paused while the appeals process plays out.

“When you go through major life events, as I have in recent weeks, losing your job, your health insurance, having your reporting files seized by your former employer, and being held in contempt  of  court,  it gives you clarity,” Herridge will say.


Appearing alongside Herridge as witnesses on Thursday will be longtime journalist Sharyl Attkisson and Mary Cavallaro, the chief broadcast officer at the SAG-AFTRA News and Broadcast Department.

Read Herridge’s full opening statement below.

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