Dan Cohen (plaintiff), an active Republican associated with an Independent-Republican gubernatorial campaign, approached reporters from the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch and the Minneapolis Star and Tribune. He agreed to provide documents relating to a candidate in the upcoming election in exchange for the newspapers’ promise to keep confidential his identity as a source. Despite this promise, the newspapers published the stories provided by Cohen and identified him by name as the source, as well as his association with the gubernatorial campaign. That same day, Cohen was fired by his employer. Cohen brought suit against Cowles Media Co. (CMC) (defendant), owner of the newspapers in question, in Minnesota state court. The trial court held for Cohen, but the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.