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US News & World Report fights subpoenas from San Francisco city attorney

U.S. News & World Report is asking the court to dismiss a subpoena filed by the San Francisco City Attorney as part of the news organization’s First Amendment lawsuit against the city attorney.

The petition in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeks a preliminary injunction to block a subpoena filed against U.S. News earlier this month by San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu, who is named as a defendant.

“Plaintiff U.S. News & World Report, LP (“U.S. News”) claims that Defendant David Chiu, the City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco (“City Attorney”), in the exercise of his governmental authority, ,” Wednesday’s filing states.

It added: “The City Attorney is investigating U.S. News because he disagrees with its journalistic work and the methodology published by U.S. News in publishing the annual hospital rankings that U.S. News has published for more than 30 years. before filing a lawsuit.” , U.S. News explained to the city attorney the serious constitutional issues raised by the city attorney’s investigation and believes the matter has been resolved after six months have passed without hearing anything more. However, out of nowhere and without even acknowledging the serious constitutional issues at issue, on January 9, 2024, the City Attorney issued a letter to U.S. News that goes to the heart of U.S. News’ journalistic mission. and submitted a subpoena for questioning. ”

“Therefore, U.S. News is now asking this court to preemptively restrain the City Attorney from enforcing subpoenas during the pendency of this case, thereby restraining the City Attorney’s intrusions on the free press. “We seek to vindicate the U.S. and California Constitutions,” the filing added. .

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U.S. News & World Report has filed a First Amendment lawsuit against San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu. (Screenshot/US News & Report)

“The journalism we do, including the rankings and investigations we conduct, is entitled to the full First Amendment protections that benefit all news organizations,” a U.S. News spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “We are supporters of journalism.” It is a valuable and trusted source of information for individuals and families making important decisions about their lives, and we do not allow the important and impartial work of our journalists, in fact all journalists, to be censored by governments. yeah. ”

“Even though the purpose of the company’s lawsuit is to chill and thwart legitimate government investigations into possible illegal business practices, U.S. News alleges that its speech was chilled. is ironic,” Chiu said in a statement. “Despite U.S. News’ stated commitment to transparency, the company has for months dodged legitimate questions about its undisclosed financial ties to rated hospitals. The lawsuit is yet another baseless attempt to evade these questions and a waste of judicial resources. U.S. News is not above the law, nor with its bullying litigation tactics. We will never be deterred from standing up for our patients and consumers. ”

U.S. News & World Report, known nationally for its rankings of various institutions, appears to have angered Chiu, and his office sent the magazine a scathing letter calling for transparency in how it rates hospitals. . US News claims its methodology is public.

“While USNWR maintains its position as the expert in hospital rankings, medical experts have recently revealed that USNWR’s rankings have poor and opaque methodology, are misleading to ranking users, and are undermining hospitals nationwide. “We are concerned that this is creating perverse incentives,” Chiu wrote in a reply letter. In June. “Additionally, USNWR does not disclose the fact that it receives payments from at least some of the hospitals it ranks, which deprives the public of important information in considering the credibility of its rankings. As City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, I have a duty to ensure that San Franciscans and Californians have access to accurate information when making important health care decisions.”

Chiu continued, “To that end, my office is asking for three things. First, we want evidence to support USNWR’s claims about the quality of its hospital rankings. Second, we want evidence to support USNWR’s claims about the quality of its hospital rankings. Second, we want evidence to support USNWR’s claims about the quality of its hospital rankings. We request specific information about the basis for this and the obvious flaws in hospital rankings.” And third, we demand that USNWR take immediate steps to comply with Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) regulations that require it to prominently disclose which hospitals receive payments. Masu. ”

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David Chiu at TechCrunch

San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu has issued a subpoena to U.S. News & Report seeking information about how hospital rankings are formed. (Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Chiu filed two subpoenas against U.S. News earlier this month. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the subpoena could reveal further information about U.S. News’ “hospital ranking process” and “whether U.S. News’ ranking process and financial relationships with hospitals were a factor.” The company was seeking information regarding “certain internal business records.”

paper I got it. U.S. News says, “The company generates revenue from medical institutions through things such as the sale of ‘badges’ that high-scoring institutions can display on their websites and other branded materials.”

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U.S. News & World Report filed the First Amendment lawsuit against Chiu in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. (St. Petersburg)

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In response, U.S. News filed a lawsuit against Chiu last week on First Amendment grounds.

“Despite these bedrock protections, San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu (“City Attorney”) is currently conducting an investigation and is filing a lawsuit against plaintiff U.S. News & World Report, Inc. (“US News”). and issuing burdensome subpoenas. “Plaintiffs disagree with the views and opinions of U.S. News and the methodology (which is publicly available) for arriving at U.S. News’ rankings,” the lawsuit says. “Specifically, the City Attorney does not recognize his rigorous and well-regarded Best Hospitals rankings from U.S. News. This is clearly unconstitutional and his growing harassment must stop.” ”

Chiu was appointed San Francisco City Attorney in 2021 and previously served as a Democratic member of the California State Assembly.

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