Friday, September 22, 2006

The Shield And The Sludge

This Editor and Publisher story reports on Bushco’s opposition to a federal shield law for journalists, with time running out for the 109th Repug Congress to act on this law and ensure the free flow of information that we need to make informed decisions in this country.

(I mean, of course the Repugs have to oppose this. It’s a no-brainer. Can’t have those pesky journos sneaking around and checking up on us and holding us accountable, can we now?)

I’ll admit that there’s nothing newsworthy about that. However, the name of the person arguing in support of the shield law did catch my attention.

And that person would be Ted Olson.

I haven’t really found an answer to this question, but why would a totally unrepentant Repug sympathizer like Olson support shield law protection for journalists?

Why would someone hip deep in The Arkansas Project (which Joe Conason explains as part of his story on Olsen here) care about freedom of the press (to say nothing of the fact that, as solicitor general from 2001 to 2004, he coordinated defense of the legal challenges to this administration’s lawless anti-terror strategy)?

This excerpt from a article may shed some light:

Olson has often represented the news media and has argued in favor of a federal shield law for journalists. This, even though he has served Republican administrations which have launched leak investigations and have been largely hostile to the press. Olson sees no contradiction. Is there anything The New York Times could print, he is asked, that would make him unwilling to defend it? "I doubt it," Olson replies. "I can't think of any circumstance where The New York Times wouldn't deserve a really good lawyer." There is only one kind of client Olson would probably decline, he says. "A terrorist. I would have a problem with a terrorist."
This is understandable since Olson’s wife Barbara, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77, was killed when the plane crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11 (though I recall Barbara Olson’s talk show appearances with loathing for her vitriol against the Democrats, I still sympathize with Olson for the tragedy).

In the five years since his loss, Olson says, he has not connected often with other relatives of 9/11 victims. "I didn't have the time or the emotional resources to do my job and also connect with victims' families," he explains.
Don’t think for a minute that Ted Olson will ever “turn over a new leaf” in opposition to the Repugs and their sympathizers for whom he carried water for many years, and may yet do again (as the story notes, he is now in private practice).

But on this occasion, he should be commended for advocating passage of the federal shield law. It’s nice to come across someone in league with the crooks running our government who actually shows a conscience from time to time.

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