Columbia Blogger Could Face Jail Time For Not Revealing Sources

LEXINGTON, SC (WLTX) - A Columbia blogger most-known for political posts could face jail time or fines for not revealing sources in a defamation lawsuit involving a former state representative.

In court Wednesday, Lexington County Circuit Judge William Keesley did not make a decision on whether to hold Will Folks of 'Fits News' in contempt of court.

Former Cayce Representative Kenny Bingham sued Folks for libel after he published articles in 2014 and 2015 on ethics violation investigations at the State House, citing anonymous sources.

A judge ordered Folks to reveal the sources last year, but Folks maintains he has a journalistic obligation to protect their identities.

"I am duty-bound not to reveal the sources," Folks said on the stand Wednesday. "It's the right thing to do."

Folks said he reached out to the sources, asking if they would waive the confidentiality agreement, and they declined. His lawyers said revealing their identities would cause irreparable harm to Folks' business and argued that most of the complaint filed by Bingham relates to information from sources Folks disclosed in the articles, not the anonymous sources.

Bingham's attorneys, who claim the information from the sources is false, questioned Folks on whether he's a journalist, and what ethics he follows. 'Fits News' has a motto of 'Unfair. Imbalanced'.

"There was a time when I didn't view myself as a reporter," Folks said on the stand. "My website is a hybrid of news and editorial."

In the articles at the center of the lawsuit, Folks wrote Bingham would be indicted amid the ongoing corruption probe. That did not happen, however several other state lawmakers were charged.

Keesley asked lawyers from both sides to submit arguments by Friday, July 7th, so he could make a decision on whether or not to hold Folks in contempt of court.
 

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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