SAN FRANCISCO, May 7 (UPI) -- The San Francisco Chronicle and two reporters have been subpoenaed to testify on a grand jury leak, the latest wedge between media and confidential sources.
At issue are articles printed about athletes and steroids that included secret grand jury testimony of famed stars such as Barry Bonds, the Chronicle reports.
Although protecting confidential sources has been the pride of journalists and seen as a way for government officials with knowledge of corruption to come forward, there isn't any hard legal basis for it, the newspaper said.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that the Constitution doesn't hold any special rights for journalists protecting such sources and recent actions show the ruling has held since then.
New York Times reporter Judith Miller's 85-day stint in jail -- for protecting a source in the special counsel's investigation into who leaked the name of a covert CIA agent -- is most notable.
Time Magazine reporter Matthew Cooper was given permission by his source to reveal his name to keep him from jail in the same case.
In 2004, Providence, R.I., TV reporter Jim Taricani was on house arrest for four months because he wouldn't reveal the source of a video showing the bribe of a city official.
A federal appeals court recently upheld a ruling that journalists using government sources in the 1999 spying claims against Los Alamos nuclear laboratory employee Wen Ho Lee must testify as well. Charges against Lee were dismissed and he is suing.
And the Bush administration is looking into the source of leaks that led to articles about secret Eastern European CIA prisons and a secret domestic wiretapping program.