Fox News Orders Hosts Not to Name Whistleblower on Air

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Fox News personalities were told they cannot name the alleged whistleblower who sparked an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, CNN has reported.

Lawyers and lawmakers have attempted to keep the whistleblower’s identity anonymous, but after The New York Times published details about the whistleblower many reporters began an effort to identify them. Several conservative outlets say they identified the whistleblower, and some have even published their name, but the identity of the whistleblower has not been confirmed by Congress or lawyers involved in the whistleblower complaint.

Sean Hannity, Fox News’ most-watched primetime host, said earlier this week that he had multiple sources confirming the whistleblower’s identity but would “keep playing the game” because the network was threatened by the whistleblower’s lawyers.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), an ally of Trump’s, said during a rally in Kentucky that “we also now know the name of the whistleblower” and has repeatedly threatened to disclose their identity.

For now, the whistleblower is protected by The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, a broad statute that has been expanded since its inception. That act makes it illegal for the government to retaliate against a whistleblower who reports violations or misconduct through the proper channels. Advocates for the whistleblower’s anonymity say that identifying the whistleblower would put them in danger and scare future whistleblowers from coming forward with critical information.

Attorneys for the whistleblower told CNN:

“Disclosure of any name undermines the integrity of the whistleblower system and will deter any future whistleblowers.”

It’s unclear what will happen if the whistleblower’s identity were revealed on-air. Because the statute protecting whistleblowers is broad, it’s possible that identifying them could set off a legal battle.

Fox News is playing it safe for now, but as other outlets publish the alleged name, onlookers are anxiously waiting to see how the major newspapers and networkers handle their identity. Some Fox News personalities, like Gregg Jarrett, seem to be laying the groundwork for revealing the whistleblower’s name.

“The notion that the Ukraine ‘whistleblower’ is somehow entitled to anonymity was probably first peddled by the Flat Earth Society,” Jarret wrote in a Fox News op-ed on Wednesday. “It is a myth and demonstrably so.”

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