Thursday, July 7

Woman in Chains

Let's begin with some unintentional humor. At least I assume it was unintentional:

"Judy has chosen such an act in honoring her promise of confidentiality to her sources," he said. "She believes, as do we, that the free flow of information is critical to an informed citizenry."
Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.


So here's a little excerpt from Amendment V of the US Constitution:

"...nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself..."

Sounds absolute. Until you look up the definition of transactional immunity.

There aren't any absolutes in Amendment I either. A moment's thought about the sort of havoc which could be wrecked by a reporter freed from all constraints against conspiracy shows why. So, no thanks, I'm not buying the idea that I have to defend Judy Miller in order to defend freedom of the press. Miller was stovepiping administration propaganda. She is then involved in an attempt, serious and possibly criminal, to intimidate an opponent of that administration and, for all we know, several others who may have had information "critical to an informed citizenry". At that point we've entered a crowded theatre. If the confidentiality of a source can be used to shield the exposure of some other source then we can no longer stand on platitudes about the need for confidentiality. We have to decide who is worthy of protection based on the facts of the case.

Miller had, and has, no right to offer any source a promise of complete confidentiality. She may have the informal right to choose to go to jail over the matter. And Judge Hogan had every right to send her there.

And I think that before people like Keith Olbermann join in the media chorus in her defense they ought to take a hard look at the woman herself. Is Miller actually protecting a source, or has she found an opportunity to defend what's left of her standing as a journalist? (And I don't say her "reputation" since I don't think she has one left.) Miller, after all, did not publish any stories based on the information about Joe Wilson's wife, and so far as we know the information came to her as part of the attempt to plant it. That "source" is most likely more like a pipeline. Considering she was almost single-handedly responsible for the Times' fictional pre-war WMD tales, she might find four months in stir preferable to revealing just how connected she truly was. Free speech and freedom of the press may protect scoundrels as well as the public's right to know, but that doesn't mean we have to join them in the trenches. It is one thing to defend Harry Reems' right to make porn. It's another to propose putting him on a stamp.

3 comments:

Hokie said...

On the list of things that Anonymous Sources Should Not Be Used For, I think selling the official administration line and political smear jobs, particularly ones that are of an illegal nature, are pretty high.

KathyR said...

I figure she's doing it to get a story out of it.

I think it is pathetic and disgusting that the first and only person going to jail so far over the Plame thing is Judith Miller.

Pepper said...

Why isn't Novak in stir? What did he do to get out? He's the one who started the whole thing in the first place ...

I already posted about this, but I don't like the idea that journalists are supposed to play all "buddy-buddy" with the administration. Journalists and politicians are not supposed to be friends. Journalists get the information and get it out there. I think Judy got all caught up in the idea that she had influence on the administration's policy.