NYTimes and Time left with one appeal
Things are looking grim for Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times. They are both resisting a subpoena regarding the identity of their sources in the case of a leaked C.I.A. agent. The federal appeals court rejected their request for a stay on the subpoena and they now are limited to going to prison or attempting a last appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. It's unknown what part their testimony would play and I don't think liberals quite know what they want out of this case. Many are wishing they could pin the leak on the Bush Administration--something they have already done their best to imply without opening themselves up to libel charges. On the other hand, if these two reporters (from liberal leaning media outlets) hold the line and don't reveal their sources, then it would seem the Democrats have no chance to attempt to pin the tail on the elephant.
The case is a complicated one, seemingly full of rumor and intrigue. The case involves intelligence on WMDs out of Iraq and the case for the War in Iraq. Former Ambassador Joe Wilson was commissioned to confirm WMD reports and reportedly came up empty. His information was not given as much weight in the final decision and I cannot assume to know the reason--as does every liberal in Washington D.C.
His wife, an "undercover" C.I.A. operative named Valerie Plame, ended up getting leaked to the press via several "sources." The first to mention anything about her was syndicated columnist Robert Novak who "some say" has cooperated in the investigation. There is also confusion about whether her actual job description would have made it a bid deal for her name to be revealed--something Novak said is the case--that it wasn't a problem because it wasn't a secret really. The investigation, Novak said, is standard procedure in all leaks.
Novak's original beef was with Wilson's record of anti-Bush action--he didn't think that he could be trusted to get an accurate report with his record. Wilson was the one who then accused the White House of leaking his wife's name in retaliation...and that was just the beginning.
Here's some good links for background information:
An October 2003 CNN article here, Novak's original July 2003 "Mission to Niger" column that started it all, and also his response to the ensuing hoopla.
All that is neither here nor there and I hate to get into it. The issue at hand is the two reporters who have refused to reveal their sources. Again, the federal appeals court rejected their request for a stay on the subpoena and they now are limited to going to prison or attempting a last appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. And herein lies the greatest issue of interest to me:
I don't think the high court will take the case, but if they do, they would set themselves up for a landmark decision regarding reporter's privilege. Personally I think journalists, who constantly refer to “critics” who say one thing or another, or “government sources” who say this or that, abuse what privilege they may have. This forces the reader to put ultimate faith in the reporter--something the reporter doesn't have a right to ask of the reader. Journalists who cite anonymous people do so because they think they won't be able to get any information at all if government officials are cited by name. The two problems are these: first, there is the ultimate trust in the journalist issue, and then there is also the temptation on the part of the "sources" to leak something false to an unwitting press, and since they won't be named, it won't hurt them.
Enough about journalism for a few days. Thank you for actually reading this far and I hope I haven't sent you back to normal life more confused.