(For the longest time, Chapman took positions which were left-wing or middle of the road on most issues. As far as I’m concerned, though, he has officially “gone over to the dark side” with this one)…
The editor in chief of Time Inc. made news the other day by offering to do what most of us take for granted: obey the law. It's about time.Note Chapman’s huffy and self-righteous tone. It gets worse.
When I first heard about what Normal Pearlstine did (the editor in chief), I got PO’ed. However, after I read the article about the Miller/Cooper/Plame case in Time this week, I understood that he had exhausted all the legal remedies that he could and that his course of action, though regrettable, was understandable. It would have been unthinkable in the era of Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, but everything is “through the looking glass” now.
Reporter Matthew Cooper has declined to testify in the federal probe of the outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. But after the Supreme Court spurned his appeal on Monday, his superiors elected to turn over his notes, which apparently will make his refusal irrelevant.Uh, no. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, for some reason that is an utter mystery to me, still wants Cooper to testify. And it’s probably a good thing the Supremes didn’t hear it, because any ruling coming from this bunch may have further eroded the reporter’s right to confidentiality.
"The same Constitution that protects the freedom of the press requires obedience to the final decisions of the courts," said editor Norman Pearlstein -- an insight that has eluded many of his fellow journalists.“Many” reporters, huh? Do you have “many” examples?
That would include New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who claims the prerogative of deciding for herself what information the grand jury is entitled to hear, and whose publisher backs her up.Who claims the prerogative of giving up information in a way that protects her sources, yes, and her published SHOULD back her up.
By the way, I’ve read comments from some lefties who have decided to gang up on her (such as Atrios) in part because she was a cheerleader for Iraq War II and she dumped on John Kerry during the last election. Wrongheaded as it was for her to do that, that’s not at issue here.
Like Cooper, she apparently had a conversation with the leaker (or leakers) about Plame. Even though she didn't write a story, that could make her a witness to a federal crime, since it is illegal for a federal employee to unmask a covert agent.Yes, but she didn’t do the unmasking, did she? (Chapman will get to that shortly).
But Miller feels she has the right and the duty to keep her promise of confidentiality to her source, never mind that her source had no respect for his own secrecy obligations. She says she will go to jail rather than cooperate, and this week, she may get the chance.If you follow this logic, then anyone who has broken or will break a law should not be used as a source for a news story. If you take that logic one step further, then that would invalidate most plea bargains where criminals agree to lesser charges in order to give somebody up.
A seasoned reporter such as George Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer, for example, reports on organized crime frequently. I know he’s had some run-ins with both the people he reports on and law enforcement, but part of the reporter’s job is to know how to straddle “the razor’s edge”.
(Actually, as I read Chapman’s remarks, I’m starting to wonder exactly what his background in journalism was before he landed this column gig at the Trib.)
Her fortitude would be admirable in a noble cause, which unfortunately this is not.No argument here.
Plame is the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who infuriated the White House by publicly rejecting claims that Saddam Hussein was trying to acquire nuclear weapons. After he wrote an article criticizing the administration's evidence, someone leaked the information in an attempt to discredit him.I was actually going to give Chapman the benefit of the doubt and attribute his remarks to being blinded, so to speak, by righteous outrage over Bushco’s antics in this, until I read the following paragraph.
Columnist Robert Novak obligingly published Plame's name, which he said he got from "two senior administration officials." (Novak refuses to say whether he's testified, but since he hasn't been threatened with jail, it's safe to assume he has.)No it isn’t. What kind of a statement is that? It’s not safe to assume that Novak and Fitzgerald have had any communication at all. Who’s your daddy, Steve?
Miller and Cooper have chosen to shield someone who blew an American agent's cover for political revenge.That’s assuming that Miller and Cooper’s source did that (paging Karl Rove), but again, that’s ultimately up to the courts to decide.
This is a terrible mistake for two reasons. In the first place, as the Supreme Court made clear, it is based on a legal privilege that exists only in the fertile imagination of journalists.It has also been substantiated in practice and through case law over many years.
In the second, it may serve to protect a serious felon from being brought to justice.Consider the chilling effect, Steve. No source would ever talk to a reporter again. Besides, as I’ve already said, if Fitzgerald wanted to get from A to B as directly as he could, Novak would be sweating it out in the box (oh, uh…sorry, I forgot. He must have testified already, right?).
Cooper is cooperating, but apparently that isn’t enough to satisfy Mad Dog Fitzgerald. But I’m sure he’ll make an example of Miller all the same (update: he did).
Miller insists that her subpoena, by compromising the confidentiality of news sources, threatens the public's right to know. But there are some things the public has no right to know -- including the names of covert agents. If Plame's exposure had made her a terrorist target, that would be painfully obvious.Hello, I’m Steve Chapman. I'm going to talk down to you like you're a moron for a little while. Do you mind?
The law in question was passed in 1982 after rogue agent Philip Agee outed more than 1,000 CIA operatives, potentially jeopardizing their lives. No one has argued it should be repealed. But if federal employees can leak names to journalists without fear that the reporters may testify against them, the law would have all the value of a Confederate bank note.Fear of testifying against them might “dry up” these potential sources also (how many times do I have to keep mentioning this?).
It may not be surprising to find a couple of journalists behaving irresponsibly.To you, maybe, though I don't consider Miller and Cooper's behavior "irresponsible".
What is surprising is that the entire press has rallied behind them. A host of news organizations signed a brief siding with Cooper and Miller during their court battle. Editorialists at The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, who normally can't agree that shamrocks are green, both condemned special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald…That should be your first clue, Sherlock.
…for thinking the protection of our spies justifies inconveniencing reporters.That may be the snottiest remark of this whole rant. I would consider jail a bit more than a minor inconvenience.
But even the states that have shield laws allow prosecutors to subpoena reporters under certain conditions. Federal courts have ruled that even if there were a reporter's privilege not to testify, it would not be enough to excuse Miller and Cooper, because the information sought is crucial and the prosecutor has exhausted every other means of getting it.That may be the biggest LIE of this whole rant. How has Fitzgerald “exhausted” his ability to get information out of Novak?
Besides, the reporters weren’t asking for immunity from testifying. They and their news organizations were asking for some judgment and common sense on the part of the special prosecutor, which I guess isn’t going to be forthcoming.
The only protection that might help is an absolute shield, akin to the attorney-client or doctor-patient privilege. But as University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone notes, even those have exceptions.As they should.
If a client asks his lawyer how to get away with robbing a bank, the conversation is not protected, because the privilege was never meant to facilitate violations of the law.Oh, so now you’re suggesting that, somehow, Cooper and Miller are co-conspirators because they “facilitated violations of the law.” What journalism school did you graduate from anyway? Whattsamatta U?
The sort of privilege sought by the news media, however, would do just that. Reporters who are witnesses to a crime could evade the normal duty of citizens to tell what they know.Sure, they “could,” and so could other professionals. Also, monkeys “could” fly out of my butt. Guess the glass is always half empty, isn’t it Steve?
Journalists like nothing better than exposing self-seeking behavior by special interests who care nothing for the public good. In this case, they can find it by looking in the mirror.I take back what I said earlier. THIS is the snottiest sentence in this whole rant.
Yeah, so Cooper and Miller did this because they LIKE prison and they LIKE being the objects of scorn and ridicule by hammerheads such as yourself, and they LIKE having their lives turned upside down.
Steve, if you have any sense of integrity left, go get a job with Fox and be more honest about passing yourself off as the shill you truly are. Somebody else around here needs to look in the mirror too.
P.S. - One more thing, Mr. Chapman: Read this column from Molly Ivins to get a clue.