FoxNews reporter Jana Winters, pictured, inspired the bill

So much for the spirit of bipartisanship that Governor Hickenlooper called for in his State of the State speech this month.  For the record, we didn’t actually expect the Democrats to suddenly embrace such a concept, after ramming though unpopular legislation last year without a single Republican vote, and their well-established track record of saying one thing and doing the exact opposite.

As we reported shortly before the session, Republican State Senator Bernie Herpin was intent on beginning his tenure at the State Capitol with a common-sense measure designed to protect the First Amendment rights of journalists.  Unfortunately, not even middle of the fairway legislation to protect a free press is palatable to Senate Democrat leadership, if the bill is brought forth by a Republican.  The measure failed to even make it out of committee, where it fell yesterday 3-2 on a straight party line vote.

Herpin’s legislation was a simple amendment to an existing Colorado statute designed to enhance the freedom of the press, and was modeled after New York’s reporter shield statute, recognized as one of the strongest in the nation.  Herpin’s bill would have raised the bar in the legal test that a petitioner would have to meet to compel the testimony of a journalist.

Herpin’s idea sprung form the case involving Fox News reporter Jana Winter’s reporting on the Aurora Theater shooting case, where the accused tried to force Winter’s testimony regarding a confidential source.

All in all, this was not a great week for Democrats’ relationship with the media.  First, embattled Department of Regulatory Affairs head Barbara Kelley told The Denver Post she would not be releasing the names of those on the panel, and then, ran to KDVR‘s Eli Stokols with the names, prompting irritation from Post staff.  And, now this.  Perhaps AP‘s Kristen Wyatt summed it up best: