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SAG-AFTRA Says Catherine Herridge’s Files Have Been Returned To Her By CBS News — Update

UPDATE: SAG-AFTRA said that CBS News has returned correspondent Catherine Herridge’s files, even though the network has disputed that they had seized her material after she was laid off.

In a statement, SAG-AFTRA said that they were “pleased to confirm that earlier today a representative of our union monitored the return of several boxes containing Catherine Herridge’s reporting materials from her CBS News office in Washington D.C. Herridge is currently reviewing the materials.

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“We welcome CBS News’ reversal which came after SAG-AFTRA’s intervention and widespread media coverage that underscored shared concerns about press freedom and the First Amendment.”

The network, however, had challenged the notion that they were retaining the materials.

“Catherine’s personal belongings were delivered to her home one week ago, and we are prepared to pack up the rest of her files immediately on her behalf – with her representative present as she requested,” a network spokesperson said last week. “We are awaiting a response from Catherine and/or her representative to do so. 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.”

Herridge was a senior investigative correspondent for the network but she was among the 20 or so newsroom staffers laid off earlier this month.

Last week, The Hill posted a piece from law professor Jonathan Turley in which he claimed that the network “took the unusual step of seizing her files, computers and records, including information on privileged sources.” He said that Herridge “was pursuing stories that were unwelcomed by the Biden White House and many Democratic powerhouses.”

Turley, though, has been a controversial partisan legal figure, particularly for a later op ed in The Hill in which he suggested that legal troubles were a Joe Biden “family trait acquired through generations of natural selection.” He even cited the president’s great-great-grandfather Moses Robinette, who during the Civil War was found guilty of attempted murder.

PREVIOUSLY: SAG-AFTRA condemned CBS News following a report that the network seized correspondent Catherine Herridge’s files after she was laid off earlier this month, but the network is disputing that is what happened.

Herridge, who was a senior investigative correspondent covering national security and intelligence, was among the 20 or so news division staffers laid off amid a round of cost cutting throughout Paramount Global.

Earlier today, The Hill posted a piece from law professor Jonathan Turley in which he claimed that the network “took the unusual step of seizing her files, computers and records, including information on privileged sources.” He wrote that the network was trying to determine what was proprietary information, and he said that Herridge “was pursuing stories that were unwelcomed by the Biden White House and many Democratic powerhouses.”

A network source, though, disputed the report that her files had been seized.

A CBS News spokesperson said in a statement, “Catherine’s personal belongings were delivered to her home one week ago, and we are prepared to pack up the rest of her files immediately on her behalf – with her representative present as she requested. We are awaiting a response from Catherine and/or her representative to do so. 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.”

SAG-AFTRA, which represents on-air correspondents, issued a statement this afternoon condemning the network.

“This action is deeply 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.

“It is completely inappropriate for an employer to lay off a reporter and take the very unusual step of retaining and searching the reporter’s files, inclusive of confidential source identification and information. From a First Amendment standpoint, a media corporation with a commitment to journalism calling a reporter’s research and confidential source reporting ‘proprietary information’ is both shocking and absurd,” SAG-AFTRA said.

“The retention of a media professional’s reporting materials by their former employer is a serious break with traditional practices which supports the immediate return of reporting materials. We urge CBS to return this material to Catherine in support of the most basic of First Amendment principles.”

Herridge’s representative did not return a request for comment, and she has not commented on her departure from the network.

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