While the rightie bloggers fall in line with the RNC Talking Points, linked here…
RNC Talking Points
and the so called liberal press from the NY Times to the TV pundits bellyache about the loss of the “freedom of the press”, they’re totally ignoring a KEY point, and also providing a telling example of why the press isn’t exactly “Free” anymore.
Everyone’s talking about Judith Miller having to do time (I won’t even talk about Robert Novak getting a free pass beyond speculating that maybe he’s the one who provided the 8 pages of sealed documents that keep this case alive… once again, idle speculation)
Anyways, this “freedom of the press” thang is overrated, in this case. Time Inc, by handing over Cooper’s notes, wasn’t violating this time honoured tradition by a long shot.
The purpose of “confidential sources” is to protect the identity of whistleblowers revealing wrongdoings, whether they be gov’t abuses or violations being committed by the corporation they work for. This is a noble and ethical endeavour, and has lead to the exposure of all sorts of criminal activiity in the higher echelons of power.
This protecting of sources is NOT extended when the journalist knows that the source is engaging in felonious crimes.
In the Rove/Plame case, the source passing on the information is the alleged criminal act, so this “journalistic freedom” is a red herring.
Rove’s passing on of information is not the act of a whistleblower getting information out to expose criminal wrongdoing, but a potentially criminal act of an agent of the government, trying to EXTEND the power of the Executive branch through what is SUPPOSED to be a free and independant press. Miller, Cooper and Novak are being USED by the administration for petty political retribution, either knowingly or not.
To see the great majority of the press rally behind Miller, and chastize Time Inc., is a sad perversion of the idea of a “Free” press.
A long time ago, one of my favourite authors, Harlan Ellison, wrote about the state of journalism. At that time in the late 70’s/early 80’s, he was worried about the effect of having “Journalism Schools”, as all the old school greats never had to attend an institution of higher learning to study journalism. Instead, they came from disparate backgrounds, some from the streets, some from Ivy League schools where they studied history, english, economics, or whatever, and applied their knowledge and life experiences to the task of writing.
He argued that the “new crop” of journalists coming out of journalism schools would be more isolated, and less free, as they become part of the very establishment they are meant to cover.
Over 20 years later, what he wrote seems more and more true. The majority of journalists these days are navel gazing, so wrapped up in the concept of “protecting sources” that they’ve forgotten what it really means. In the end, they’re defending Miller, who is doing nothing more than taking a bullet for the potentially illegal act of leaking a covert spy’s name to the press.
If that’s the idea of a “Free Press” these days, it’s a sad state of affairs indeed.