11/20/2005: The 'Plan of the Hacks...'
[Hat tip to for the great title and graphic from both firedoglake and Bob Geiger]
Leonard Downie's Plan is to run TeeVee interview *interference* for good ole Water(gate)-Toting Bob Woodward on the MSM networks and in the WaPo.
I still have a FEW problems with Mr. Downie's answers - like these Q&A over the Bob Woodward matter:
“…It was later, after the Fitzgerald investigation was underway, that Bob became concerned about being subpoenaed. In the meantime, however, once the relevance of his conversation became clear because of the controversy over the Novak column, Bob should have told me about his conversation, even if we would have been unable to publish anything about it because of his confidentiality agreement with his source…”
“…As Bob has said, he objected in principle to having reporters forced by Fitzgerald to testify about confidential source relationships and about the chilling effect he feared it would have on reporting….”
“…This is one mistake that Bob has made in over three decades of extraordinary reporting, beginning with Watergate, that has performed a great public service for our readers and all Americans by revealing more about how our government works -- and holding it accountable -- than any other journalist….”
“Q: “… Is it not true that keeping your word with an unnamed source is what's most important, and Mr. Woodward did just that? In some regards, I think Mr. Woodward should have come forward sooner but on the other hand doesn't a reporter have any privacy in their own lives? Is a reporter always morally obligated to tell everything he/she knows about a subject to his/her employer? I do hope Mr. Woodward is not punished for this one mistake.
A : I agree with you, except that reporters should share with their editors significant information of his kind, even in a confidential source relationship, so that the editors can help the reporter decide what to do with it in the best interests of our readers, as well as making certain we do violate a confidential source agreement….”
“…Both Woodward and Miller, as did several other reporters, testified in Fitzgerald's investigation only after being specifically released by their sources from confidentiality agreements for the purpose of their testimony….”
“… so long as the confidential source agreement was not violated…”
These all have the same concept of the “confidentiality agreement” being the MOST Important thing, and operating on a conclusion that Unless and Until a source AGREEs to break that confidentiality, there is no release.
That is simply Legally NOT permissible nor the Case Law rules. As Downie well knows, given that Mr. Walter Pincus (another WaPo columnist) has been held in contempt by a different Court in a ruling on this issue of what kind of *qualified* priviledge rules govern in this case and when reporters MUST comply with a Court's ruling to discuss their sources (see this previous post.)
I'll repeat what is worth repeating here: There is NO ABOLUTE, UN-QUALIFED Priviledge for a Reporter on a confidentiality agreement.
They have no legal standing to refuse to reveal the confidentiality of a source when ordered to do so by a Court under the balancing test of the First Amendment protections. With or without the consent of the “Source”, Ms. Miller would have been required to testify, as would Mr. Woodward be so obligated to testify.
And these reporters, Bob Woodward, Walter Pincus or Judy Miller, who think they have some ability to make up the rules to suit their own individual needs are just WRONG.
And apparently Downie is willing to run this kind of interference for them.
Well, Morally, Legally and Ethically they are WRONG under certain circumstances. And one of the kinds of circumstances where it is WRONG to shield a confidential source is when the CRIME which has been committed IS the information received from the Source. They must behave like all Citizens must behave and cooperate with the investigated when they are the *eye-witness* to the CRIME.
As Marty Kaplan so cogently puts it: A Piss is Not a Leak.
So, these folks need to get off their First Amendment High-Horse and play by the rules that exist in the real world and under the law.
Karen on 11.20.05 @ 01:48 PM CST