Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Salon's got it absolutely right about the Judith Miller situation. As much disdain as I feel towards her for her role in bolstering this corrupt administration's bogus war claims and as much schadenfreude as I feel at the news that she's going to jail, it is a miscarraige of justice and a disturbing precedent to lock up a journalist for refusing to reveal her sources. Heck, I could think of a dozen better reasons to put her behind bars without even really thinking about it.

And while we're at it: why not Bob Novak? That guy needs to see some bars clanking shut in his face at least once in his life. He might even start to grow a soul. We could call it a service to the community.


JBJ 11:57 AM, July 13, 2005  

Jacob Weisberg in Slate has a contrasting view:

Ah, I don't know--and I haven't read Salon yet. I just wish journalists would use their constitutionally privileged status to protect whistle-blowers, and not be an instrument of smear artists like Rove.

Hayden Childs 12:12 PM, July 13, 2005  

Hey, I have no problem with Time's action and could think of no greater justice than immediately sending Rove to Gitmo as an enemy of the state.

All of Weisberg's examples, though, are of journalists voluntarily revealing their sources out of a sense of the greater good, which is all fine with me. What sticks in my craw about the Judith Miller situation is that the courts are insisting that she (and the NY Times) involuntarily violate their own sense of disclosure. Not that Miller is a paragon of ethical behavior, but the principle slides us a good ways down a fairly slippery slope towards government regulation of the free press.

Chana M 1:20 PM, July 13, 2005  

I'm afraid I have to agree with Weisberg. There's a pretty clear distinction between leaks that serve the public interest and leaks that don't, and the Plame leak has nothing to do with the public interest. Given the serious nature of the crime of exposing a CIA agent, and the lack of public benefit, I think that Fitzgerald is well justified in pursuing Cooper and Miller, and that the journalists are not justified in protecting their sources at all costs.

Hayden Childs 1:56 PM, July 13, 2005  

I don't know. I mean, I agree with you to a large extent, but I'm also pre-disposed to agree with you, because both of us agree that Karl Rove is a scumbag who should be outed as the source of a potentially treasonous violation of his trust and Judith Miller is one of his tools, in every sense of the word. We can assume that she should have recognized, especially when Rove and Scott McClellan publically announced that Rove was not the leak, that the public interest would have been served by revealed that this was a bold lie in the face of the American people.

But she didn't, and we should, unfortunately, extend to her the benefit of the doubt that she and her bosses at the NY Times believe that the public interest is best served by protecting her source.

I guess it seems to me that "serving the public interest" is a fairly mutable concept, and could be construed to mean the opposite of our interpretation (in fact, I'm certain without checking that the conservative wingnut contingency is doing this in their blogs and Precious Fascist Moments scrapbooks). Because journalists, like all citizens bound by the Constitution, have a wide swath of grey ethical area in which they may interpret the public interest, it seems like a step towards totalitarianism to jail one for her stance.

And now I've been defending Judith Fucking Miller for way too long. I just don't want to see the same thing happen to the journalist defending the whistle-blower, as in JBJ's comment.

JBJ 1:25 PM, July 14, 2005  

Miller isn't always so careful about exposing sources.

It's tough. Who is to say what's in the public interest? I think about Daniel Ellsberg--there was a huge argument over whether leaking the Pentagon Papers was good for the public interest or not.

Protecting reporters' sources is important. But Judith Miller is a shitty test case.

Another thing I think about, and it may never be proven, but I believe this was an open secret in Washington for two years. I think scores of people knew that Karl Rove was actively trying to smear Joe Wilson. And no one thought it was worth publishing. One man's freedom of the press is another man's omerta. But hey, all we were doing was holding a presidential election. Anyway, I'm glad it came finally came out, I'm sorry it took Peter Fitzgerald being an extreme hardass for that to happen.

Hayden Childs 1:32 PM, July 15, 2005  

>Judith Miller is a shitty test case.

Damn, I couldn't agree more.

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