If the Fairmont Sentinel isn't the most politically conservative daily newspaper in the state, it's darned close. The editors reject the bill on the grounds that it's not going to stop animal rights activists--and that good farmers have nothing to fear from a free press:
Any activist worth his or her salt is going to ignore it. Their goal is to expose abuse. Some possible time in jail is a small price to pay for these folks. And those who actually produce videos of bad behavior on farms or in processing plants are going to generate a lot of public sympathy, including among juries and judges. After all, abusing animals is a serious crime in itself. If someone exposes it, their "offense" amounts to little more than trespassing or petty fraud. The animal abuse is far worse.
Finally, no reputable farm or business that treats its animals well has to worry about any of this. And, again, that is true for the vast majority.
The New Ulm Journal, more to the center, but still leaning right, writes in Don’t punish whistleblowers:
The idea of criminalizing the act of documention and reporting potentially criminal behavior makes little sense. Whistleblowers do the public a service by bringing the illegal, immoral or shameful to light. If we pass laws to protect animal facilities from this kind of scrutiny, who else might feel entitled to special protection?
We would imagine that ACORN, the community organizing group that was brought down by a couple of underground "journalists" with secret cameras, would love to be able to charge someone with a criminal act. Instead, they suffered the embarassment of some of their staff being videotaped while advising a man and woman posing as a pimp and a prostitute on how to set up a brothel in the neighborhood.
Did O'Keefe's infamous sting operation make misleading edits? I believe so--but the same defense (and redress for targets via defamation law) exists for O'Keefe as for those in the animal welfare and animal rights movements.