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Constitutional Law Keyed to Maggs
Cohen v. Cowles Media Co.
Citation:501 U.S. 663 (1991)
Dan Cohen, an active Republican approached reporters from St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch and others to provide documents relating to a candidate in the upcoming election. Cohen made clear to the reporters that he would provide the information only if he was given a promise of confidentiality. After consultation, the editorial staffs of the two newspapers independently decided to publish Cohen’s name as part of their stories concerning Johnson. In their stories, both papers identified Cohen as the source of the court records, indicated his connection to the Whitney campaign, and included denials by Whitney campaign officials of any role in the matter. The same day the stories appeared, Cohen was fired by his employer. Cohen sued the newspapers’ publishers, claiming that they had violated their promises of confidentiality.
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