January 23, 2006

The Press - Hoist On Its Own Petard

Scooter Libby is planning to subopena a number of journalists in his defense trial. This poses a series of tough decisions for the press for a number of reasons. Timothy Phelps has a lengthy (but worth the time) article in the Columbia Journalism Review regarding the background of the Plame case, including his own actions and the actions of others.

Of course, as a member of the press, Phelps is not happy about the possibility of two things. One, that Libby may call journalists for testamony, and two, that the press doesn't seem to have the "protections" under the first amendment that it did in the past. Phelps does acknowledge that there are indeed limits on the ability of journalists to protect sources, but decries the lessening of that.

It should be noted that much of the current brouhaha is of the making of the journalism profession. They were less concerned about the "leak" than about (in general) being able to hammer the Bush Administration for wrongs (real or perceived). In fact, two journalists, David Corn (The Nation) and Paul Krugman (The New York Times) raised a big stink about the illegality of "outing" Plame.

Even Phelps says she was in a role "undercover." However, nothing could be further from the truth. Undercover typically means assignment in the field, pretending you are something you are not in order to gather information necessary for our national security. Plame worked in a "secret" department of the Directorate of Operations, but was not "under cover" as she drove to work daily, was doublessly photographed many, many times by our adversaries (who ever they may have been) and even people in her neighborhood knew where she worked. Too, her "cover" had been blown years before and that is why she was pulled from the field.

The press demanded an investigation until finaly, someone in the CIA asked for an investigation. Usually, these requests don't go very far as Phelps acknowledges. This time, however, with the reporters and Democrats up in arms, Gutless Ashcroft recused himself and recused his deputy from looking into the matter and appointed a Special Prosecuter to look into the "outing" of Valarie Plame.

As we know, that investigation went nowhere, despite calls for Karl Rove to be frogmarched out of the White House. Libby in what must have been a non-compos-mentos moment lied about who he talked to or when or under what circumstances and as a result he is up on perjury charges. If found guilty, I hope they throw the book at him. What could he have been thinking?

But, I digress. The issue is that the press, so rabid in their attempts to nail the Bush Administration (and denying that is ludicrous on it's face) is now going to have to testify in the Libby trial. Too damn bad. The old saw that you need to be careful what you ask for, because you may not like what you get couldn't be more apt.

Libby's right to a fair trial trumps, it seems to me, any 1st amendment protection the predatory press has. Phelps may have said it best:

The prosecutor seems to have had the last word about the First Amendment, at least for now. “Journalists are not entitled to promise complete confidentiality — no one in America is,” he told Thomas F. Hogan, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Hogan agreed. Of course, we never did have the right to offer complete confidentiality in every circumstance. But as a result of this case and others in the pipeline, the question now is, Can we honestly promise our sources anything?"

A tip of the GM Chapeaux to James Taranto

Posted by GM Roper at January 23, 2006 10:26 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Awesome......the harder you fling the bucket of manure, the more of a chance that it will fly back in your face.......lesson here?

Pour that bucket out gently......gently. Patience pays off.

Posted by kender at January 23, 2006 11:10 PM

...or, don't spit in the wind.

Posted by Woody at January 24, 2006 02:01 AM

The media likes to stir up the ingredients to their great sccops of the day, but when it comes time to eat the cooked product, they can't. This is the result of their own doing. Eat your cake, MSM!

Posted by Raven at January 24, 2006 05:54 AM

"predatory press" I like that.

Funny how Novak's name never appears anywhere anymore since he let the proverbial cat out of the bag.

Posted by Oyster at January 24, 2006 06:13 AM

As far as I'm concerned, the media as a whole carries an obligation to report the news, not their own biased, semi- or inaccurate version of same in order to sway voters to their partisan political agendas. In return for this responsibility, they enjoy a number of privileges, including the right to "protect" their sources.

Seeing as they haven't been holding up their end of things, using their privileged positions for political attack venues and all, it's time for some of those privileges to be taken away.

Perhaps that will serve as a wake-up call for the next generation of reporters.

Posted by Seth at January 24, 2006 06:57 AM





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