The U.S. v. Matthews case was definitely fair. Since NPR reporter Larry Matthews had no proof, despite mentioning on-air his intent to write an article on child pornography, he had no legal defense. Even if he had no contract with an editor, he should have at least had some form of notes. Without this, he was completely vulnerable and subject to any legal ramifications.
It serves as a lesson to any future undercover reporters. If their subject matter happens to be something illegal (smuggling, drug dealing, child pornography, etc.), they must take extra precautions to ensure they have at least some legal defense should police arrest them. If a reporter was going undercover as a drug dealer, and got arrested with a kilo of cocaine in his car, he better have some thorough notes or a contract with an editor to form at least some backbone of a defense case. Drug dealing, child pornography, and any other illegal activity is pretty serious business, so these risk-taking reporters must be ready.
In the legal sense, it wouldn’t and shouldn’t have made a difference. If all performers and viewers are of legal age (usually 18), no laws were broken and no arrest should have been made. In a perfect world (and here’s where my conservative and liberal views clash), all forms of pornography would be illegal, putting an end to the exploitation. So, if I ruled the world, it wouldn’t make a difference. But the laws being what they are, it makes a significant difference.