Friday, November 04, 2005

Opinion unencumbered by fact

The professor, First Amendment Champion, opines:
We've set a precedent -- egged on by the editorialists at the New York Times and those who follow their lead -- that leaking classified material to journalists should be prosecutable. If I were the Bush Administration, I'd be sorely tempted to start subpoenaing journalists right and left when they reported on classified information. You want it? You got it.

Unhelpfully, Reynolds provides no link to these alleged editorials emanating from W. 43rd Street that have been egging on the prosecution of Libby. I wonder why that is. Is it because they don't exist? I would say yes, judging from a search I conducted of The Times's archives.

Here is The Times's editorial from last Saturday:

While she was imprisoned for 85 days, this newspaper and this page gave Ms. Miller unwavering support. Recently, Times executives have expressed regrets about some of the ways her case was handled. Reflecting on these events, we have no reservations about the obligation of this paper to stand behind our reporter while she was in jail. We also think Ms. Miller was right on the central point, that the original blanket White House waiver was coerced.
Hm. That sounds like a defense of source-protection. And here, contra Reynolds, is an October 1 editorial that again discusses the need to protect sources:

Reporters are not given the luxury of choosing the circumstances under which they take a stand on their right to guarantee confidentiality to their sources. The case that enveloped Ms. Miller was not a situation in which a whistleblower came forth, under promises of anonymity, to offer information that would protect the public from wrongdoing. Instead, the questions involved the murky world of Washington politics, where reporters and government officials talk and trade information. But reporters do not get to limit themselves to working with saintly and heroic figures. While The Times and other news organizations have made enormous efforts to restrict references to unnamed sources, it is impossible to report on what happens in any administration -- particularly one as secretive as this -- if journalists talk only to people who are willing to be quoted by name.


When a journalist guarantees confidentiality, it means that he or she is willing to go to jail rather than disclose the source's identity. We also believe it means that the journalist will not try to coerce the source into granting a waiver to that promise -- even if her back is against the wall.

Indeed, anyone who has followed this story even half-a-bit, must know that it was precisely The Times's blind acceptance of Miller's source-protection that has angered many on the Left. But that's a whole nuther debating point. If Reynolds has a copy of an editorial that says giving up sources to prosecute the administration is a good thing, he's probably the only one in the country.

It must be good to live in the Professor's fact-free universe.

Full disclosure: I'm a frequent contributor to The Times.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 5:51 PM

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