Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Choice words
Get the feeling special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has a problem with Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller? Not only did he shoot down their requests for home detention instead of jail in the Plame/CIA leak case, but he added a few swipes at the NYT reporter in particular (I'll bet Ahmad Chalabi never treated Miss Judy like this...):

Speaking of Miller, Fitzgerald wrote, "Certainly one who can handle the desert in wartime, is far better equipped than the average person jailed in a federal facility." Miller, of course, covered (some say, mis-covered) the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq following the U.S. invasion.Fitzgerald mocked Miller's claim that being denied cell phone and e-mail privileges would be adequate punishment: "Forced vacation at a comfortable home is not a compelling form of coercion."
and this:

"Special Counsel appreciates that Miller is also someone who thinks deeply. She is an investigative journalist who has won a Pulitzer Prize and authored several books, including one titled 'God Has Ninety Nine Names' that contains a chapter singularly insightful as to the history and orientation of Egyptian terrorist groups. Neither Special Counsel, nor this Court, should lightly conclude that Miller will spend months in jail without thinking more deeply about the issues discussed above and, in particular, thinking about whether the interests of journalism at large and, even more broadly, the proper conduct of government, are truly served by her continued refuals to obey this Court’s order to testify in an investigation in which she is an eyewitness and her putative source has been identified and has waived confidentiality....
Ouch. That's only a sample. Read more here. ... And I still say those who are defending these reporters miss the key point: they aren't defending some poor whistleblower, or acting "to protect the public" and its right to information, they are protecting a possible criminal who used them and classified information for a political vendetta. In effect, these two journalists are turning principle on its head by cloaking themselves in the notion of journalistic privilege in order to protect the government FROM the public's right to know. And as Craig Crawford points out, without a federal shield law, Cooper and Miller have no legal leg to stand on.

BTW it IS true that this case could have a chilling effect on newsroom managers' willingness to allow confidential sourcing in some cases, but if Jonathan Alter is correct in saying that such a move will reduce news to the reading of press releases, what does he think goes on in most newsrooms now? What was Ms. Miller was doing during the run-up to the war, if not re-gurgitating notes "from the desk of: the neocons and Ahmad Chalabi"? I doubt confidential sourcing will up and disappear because Miller and Cooper are forced to do the perp walk, or better yet, to talk. Government officials are far too spoiled by the practice of being able to hand out news items "on background," and news directors and managing editors are far too pressed for ratings to let the competition get all the "confidential" scoops. BTW Crawfort is right about another thing: whoever the source is that Miller and Cooper are protecting -- Karl Rove or not -- he (or she) is a rank coward.

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posted by JReid @ 12:08 PM  
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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