Head West, Turn Right

The Joint Blog of the Conservative Northwest Blogging Alliance: Red State Points of View from a Blue State Point on the Compass.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

GOP: Media's best friend

What is a good indication of political balance in the media? When lawmakers and politicians from both parties support media "shield laws" to protect confidential sources.

In the past, I've tended to consider this a more liberal issue, but not totally. My hesitation stems from being leery of the liberties many journalists take in using anonymous interviews--as I wrote in The Western Front last spring. At the moment, there is no federal shield law to protect journalist from grand jury subpoenas and the like. What conservatives have come out in support of more journalistic protection? The names are surprising.

Congressman Mike Pence, a conservative superstar in the Midwest, and increasingly more recognizable as one of the most effective conservative leaders in the House, has become one of the primary sponsors of a federal shield law. I hate to say it, but The New York Times reporter, Judith Miller's fight to protect a Republican source may have had something to do with the surge in GOP attention. That source, Cheney aid, “Scooter” Libby, has since, of course, been indicted in the leak you all know so much (or so little perhaps) about by now.

Note: I added a new link on my blog for my good friend Aaron Hankin, who heads up the "Draft Pence Movement" dedicated to promoting a Pence a presidential bid in 2008. There's a lot of material on his blog.

On the Washington state level, conservative Attorney General Rob McKenna has garnered the respect of journalists everywhere by first getting his hands dirty cleaning up the access laws (freedom of information laws) in Washington, and now, by publicly endorsing a state shield law. While Washington doesn't have a shield law per se, some Washington courts have ruled favorably to journalists in the past, setting minor precedent for partial protection. As stated in The Seattle Times, many would like the protection to be more water tight.

"Someone might say we don't need it; we've only had a few cases," (McKenna said.) "But not having it can chill the speech of a confidential source. You don't have to have a case where someone is being put in stocks in the public square for this to be a good idea. It will encourage confidential sources to reveal important information to the media."

It bears noting that Stefan Sharkanski of Sound Politics.com doesn’t really care about it, just as long as bloggers are included, and I would agree that there can’t be special privileges granted to some citizens just because they are gathering the information for a certain kind of publication. If the first amendment is going to be construed to protect one person, there had better not be a double standard.

Crossposted at Meneltarma


At 7:48 AM, Blogger NoTONoEagles said...

Help Mommy, there are Liberals! underneath my bed!!! (No, seriously, that's the name of the book...) Don't believe me? The dang thing's on Amazon, not some hippie-press bullcrap ;) Anyway, thought you might enjoy, pinko ;)

At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't get it.

On many issues there are no Republicans, no Democrats, no liberals, no conservatives.

Only insiders and outsiders.

Shield laws for reporters is obviously something insiders like because they can say things without being held accountable for what they said. It is great for those who like backdoor behind the scenes tactics as opposed to above the board dealings.

I don't believe in special rights for reporters. The "court" of public opinion can damage people just as much or even more than a court of law.

"Unnamed sources" or "well placed sources within" harms the political process. For when someone is unnamed it is practically impossible to fight out if Mr or Ms Unnamed has an agenda.

We need as much openness within our political process as possible. So called Shield Laws prevent that.

I don't care if some of the people promoting this are considered "conservatives" you need to look at issues on their own merits as I have seen so so many times when people who are perceived as "good" promote bad things. Think for yourself!

And never forget, all too often in politics its not republican vs democrat, or conservative vs liberal. All too often groups who appear on the surface to be foes, often unite on issues where it's the insiders vs the rest of us.

In fact, I know that in real life many "conservative" politicians and Liberal ones have had great friendships. Too many people just use ideology as a way to get elected and couldn't care less about it when they become part of the insiders. To them they get into politics to be something, not to do something.

At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Unnamed sources" or "well placed sources within" harms the political process. For when someone is unnamed it is practically impossible to find out if Mr or Ms Unnamed has an agenda

At 2:21 AM, Blogger Mark R said...

cool, I'm being lectured about anonymous sources by an anonymous source.

I think if you had read my article in the Front you would have come away with a sense of just how healthy my scepticsm for protecting journalists tends to be.

As an aside, the irony is that shield laws are proposed to promote open government (so people will squeal).


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