Friday, July 01, 2005
The Face of Cowardice
When cowardice is made respectable, its followers are without number both from among the weak and the strong; it easily becomes a fashion.
Eric Hoffer (1902–83), philosopher
I canceled my subscription to Time magazine with the following note: I am absolutely shocked that Time Magazine did not uphold the rights of journalists to protect sources. Without the ability to protect sources, journalists have lost their ability to serve as the watchdog of government. You are cowards and I have no interest in supporting your decision.
Matthew Cooper, a Time reporter, and Judith Miller of the New York Times face up to four months in jail for refusing to give up their sources to special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald. A federal judge is scheduled to impose their sentences next week.
According to articles in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, with one of its reporters facing an imminent jail sentence, Time magazine said yesterday that it would provide documents concerning the reporter's confidential sources to a grand jury investigating the disclosure of the identity of a covert C.I.A. operative, Valerie Plame.
"For 30 years, we've assumed that strong journalistic institutions would stick together and protect their employees," said David Halberstam, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author. "Now, a new wind is blowing. That united front is gone."
A key reason for the change, he said, was that Time magazine had been "swallowed up" by a conglomerate that must answer to a board of directors and millions of shareholders.
Norman Pearlstine, Time Inc.'s editor in chief, said that he and his corporate bosses had backed Cooper's refusal to hand over information to prosecutors, defending the right of reporters to enter into relationships with anonymous sources. He assailed the court rulings and what he predicted would be a "chilling effect on our work."
In an interview, Pearlstine said he had made the decision after much reflection. "I found myself really coming to the conclusion," Pearlstine said, "that once the Supreme Court has spoken in a case involving national security and a grand jury, we are not above the law and we have to behave the way ordinary citizens do."
(note: please see "There's that nasty F-word again" at Bitchph.D)