The front page, above-the-fold big news headline in today's KNS says "Burchett Subpoenas Sentinel." This is big news, and editor Jack McElroy vents his outrage, saying "This is a heavy-handed attempt by the mayor to identify the source of a story he didn't like."
Burchett doesn't need to make an "onerous" (according to the KNS) demand to identify the source of the leak. The source's identity seems to be common knowledge. And the subpoena doesn't ask the KNS to identify the source, which is further proof of a conspiracy to "harass or intimidate" them according to the KNS.
Further, the subpoena is related to a matter entitled "Allison Burchett v. Tim Burchett," not "Tim Burchett v. KNS." Of course, to the KNS it's all about the KNS. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with a messy divorce, or discovery to establish means, motive and/or opportunity involving a related matter or anything like that. Because the KNS has quotes from random "experts" in Nashville and Virginia who know nothing about Burchett or the controversy or his divorce yet know exactly why Burchett subpoenaed the records, i.e. to intimidate the KNS and pierce the reporter's shield.
Regardless, the subpoena might not have been Burchett's smartest PR move considering the blowback in KNS comments, but then again we don't know its purpose. And he needs to clear up the discrepancies (which he has apparently been working on, having filed several amendments which today's big news story doesn't mention).
In the mean time, the latest milking of this possibly non-story by the KNS creates even more questions. For example, they published screen prints of online banking records. Was access to these records authorized by the account holder? Did it occur on KNS property using KNS facilities? The controversy is based on publicly available campaign finance reports plus check listings and images from the online banking service. Do they have the corresponding records such as invoice, receipts, etc. needed to develop a clear and complete picture? Who does? Also, did McElroy confront the process server who was just doing his job? Did he make a video recording of the confrontation?
At any rate, the KNS should not reveal their source, and if Burchett and his lawyers have a legitimate reason to obtain information unrelated to KNS reporting they should consider a different approach that does not involve innocent bystanders or a challenge to the newspaper's right to protect their sources.
[Edited for clarity]
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