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Garland v. Torre and the Birth of Reporter's Privilege

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In 1957, Marie Torre, TV columnist for the New York Herald Tribune, wrote that Judy Garland was balking over a planned CBS special, apparently because, according to Torre's network source, she “thinks she's terribly fat.” Garland sued CBS for defamation and subpoenaed Torre to learn the name of her source. Torre herself then became something of a celebrity by refusing to identify him. Yet a vocal minority of reporters opposed her on the ground that the gossipy item about Judy Garland was too trivial or irresponsible to qualify for the protection of a reporter's privilege. Torre thought they were sexist or jealous.

Calling her “the Joan of Arc of her profession,” a federal judge sentenced Torre to ten days in jail for criminal contempt of court. The Second Circuit in 1958 affirmed the contempt sentence, but a visiting judge from the Sixth Circuit, Potter Stewart, wrote a nuanced opinion that recognized a First Amendment interest in newsgathering. Torre served her ten days in 1959.

In 1972, Potter Stewart, then serving on the U.S. Supreme Court, dissented in Branzburg v. Hayes and argued that reporters ought to be protected by a testimonial privilege if they fulfilled three criteria—basically the criteria that he had concluded that Torre did not fulfill in the Garland case. Many lower courts then used the Stewart dissent or Garland v. Torre itself to craft a conditional reporter's privilege. In this respect, Marie Torre served the profession more than her contemporaries could ever have imagined.

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torr (210), note (137), supra (120), report (116), sourc (103), time (86), news (84), garland (83), judg (80), court (75), case (64), privileg (61), jail (58), would (56), inform (52), stewart (48), 10 (48), herald (47), said (47), newspap (47), contempt (46),
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Name: Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
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http://www.aejmc.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p375812_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Bates, Stephen. "Garland v. Torre and the Birth of Reporter's Privilege" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Sheraton Boston, Boston, MA, Aug 05, 2009 <Not Available>. 2014-11-29 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p375812_index.html>

APA Citation:

Bates, S. , 2009-08-05 "Garland v. Torre and the Birth of Reporter's Privilege" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Sheraton Boston, Boston, MA Online <PDF>. 2014-11-29 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p375812_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In 1957, Marie Torre, TV columnist for the New York Herald Tribune, wrote that Judy Garland was balking over a planned CBS special, apparently because, according to Torre's network source, she “thinks she's terribly fat.” Garland sued CBS for defamation and subpoenaed Torre to learn the name of her source. Torre herself then became something of a celebrity by refusing to identify him. Yet a vocal minority of reporters opposed her on the ground that the gossipy item about Judy Garland was too trivial or irresponsible to qualify for the protection of a reporter's privilege. Torre thought they were sexist or jealous.

Calling her “the Joan of Arc of her profession,” a federal judge sentenced Torre to ten days in jail for criminal contempt of court. The Second Circuit in 1958 affirmed the contempt sentence, but a visiting judge from the Sixth Circuit, Potter Stewart, wrote a nuanced opinion that recognized a First Amendment interest in newsgathering. Torre served her ten days in 1959.

In 1972, Potter Stewart, then serving on the U.S. Supreme Court, dissented in Branzburg v. Hayes and argued that reporters ought to be protected by a testimonial privilege if they fulfilled three criteria—basically the criteria that he had concluded that Torre did not fulfill in the Garland case. Many lower courts then used the Stewart dissent or Garland v. Torre itself to craft a conditional reporter's privilege. In this respect, Marie Torre served the profession more than her contemporaries could ever have imagined.


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