Fox News reporter Jana Winter faces jail for doing her job too well. She's not been accused of any crime, only of protecting the identity of confidential news sources while reporting an important development in a major national story. A Colorado court has now compounded a pending murder trial with a second legal case, one with profound First Amendment ramifications.
The story started on July 20, 2012, when James Holmes walked into a midnight showing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" in an Aurora, Colo., theater and unleashed a hail of gunfire that left 12 people dead and 58 injured. The horrific shooting spree left the nation stunned and looking for answers.
Fox News sent Winter, a veteran reporter based in New York, to Colorado to cover the shooting and its aftermath. Winter soon broke an exclusive story revealing that, prior to the shooting, Holmes had sent a package to a University of Colorado psychiatrist that included a notebook "full of details about how he was going to kill people," according to one of Winter's sources. Her July 25 article on FoxNews.com also reported that the notebook contained illustrations of a massacre, including drawings of gun-wielding stick figures shooting other stick figures.