Wednesday, July 06, 2005

judging judy

on saturday, i posted the allegation that karl rove was matt cooper's and judy miller's secret source for the valerie plame outing. (rove's lawyer has tried to deny it, using weasel words such that rove could be both guilty and under investigation, yet the lawyer's statement could still be arguably true).

in that post, i mentioned that time was going to hand over cooper's notes, in what seemed to be an attempt to keep cooper from going to jail. whether that was indeed time's motivation is unclear, especially considering that the prosecutor later said that it wouldn't work: cooper would still have to go to jail if he didn't personally testify before the grand jury.

cooper would have gone to jail today, but shortly before the hearing he had a change of heart and decided to testify. he says he did so because his source explicitly and personally told him it was okay to testify.

judith miller, on the other hand, who became relatively famous for her extremely dubious reporting before the iraq war, where she penned quite a few now-proven-false stories that were spoon-fed to her by ahmed chalabi, still refuses to testify, and is on her way to jail. but who is she trying to protect?

Likewise, Fitzgerald has repeatedly said he already knows the identity of Miller's source and that person has relieved Miller of her duty to protect the source's anonymity. Yesterday, he suggested Miller will likely spend time in jail thinking about "whether the interests of journalism at large, and even more broadly, the proper conduct of government, are truly served" by her continued refusal to discuss her sources.

"Miller's views may change over time," he said, if her "irresponsible martyrdom" is later viewed by her industry colleagues as hurting, rather than helping, reporters' efforts to protect their sources, he wrote.

so the prosecutor already knows who the source is, and has a signed affadavit from that source authorizing others to testify. so what does she think she's accomplishing? same goes for cooper.

it's been pointed out repeatedly that this isn't a very good test case for journalistic privelege. shield laws and practices of journaltic confidentiality are there primarily to protect whistleblowers: those who want to expose wrongdoing but can't because of some risk to their own livelihood. maybe they would get fired if they spoke out. or worse: lynched, or driven out of town, or harassed, or smeared in the media. for them, the only choice is to go anonymously to the media.

but the plame situation turns that completely on its head. in this case, joe wilson was the whistleblower, and the journalists are trying to protect those who retaliated against the whistleblowers. instead of confidentiality being used to protect the powerless and vulnerable, it is being used to protect the powerful and punish the vulernable. instead of the press exposing a crime, the press was itself complicit in a crime, and now tries to protect itself. this is no deep throat scenario. this is protecting nixon while deep throat goes to jail.

1 comment:

stAllio! said...

work, damn you, work!