Thursday, July 07, 2005

Jailing A Reporter Is Wrong
In Order to Reveal Sources!

The freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.
George Mason (1725 - 1792), U.S. statesman

B2 made mention of the jailing of a reporter below, but this is truly a crime on our rights to have a free country, I have to add my two cents. This is a very important and frightening story. It is a shame and a travesty that Judith Miller, an investigative reporter for the New York Times, who did not write a story should be sentenced to jail for not revealing her source. She has committed no crime -- NONE. (please read the NYTimes' editorial on the matter)

Miller told the judge, "If journalists cannot be trusted to guarantee confidentiality, then journalists cannot function and there cannot be a free press."

Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart explained in a 1974 speech, the primary purpose of the First Amendment was to create a fourth institution outside the government as an additional check on the three official branches (the executive branch, the legislature and the judiciary).

For an innocent reporter to face jail time is as highly un-American as torturing prisoners and holding no one in power responsible for such a crime. It’s time to wake up and realize that our freedoms are not disappearing slowly, but rapidly.

An extremely dangerous precedent has occurred. Let’s just extrapolate this a bit further: does this now mean that one can be jailed because someone might have told you something and you might know something?

The myth of an unfair press promulgated by the Republicans under then House Speaker Newt Gingrich, only serves to empower conservatives to control the debate. Now the dire warnings of corporate conglomerations such as Time-Warner caving under shareholder pressure to give up a reporter’s notes or Disney not distributing Fahrenheit 9/11 because its CEO did not agree with the politics of the movie are trampling on everyone’s rights Republican, Democrat or independent.

As Hendrik Hertzberg in his book “Politics, Observations & Arguments” writes:

A free and critical press may sometimes be a tactical disadvantage for a society. But surely it is a huge advantage strategically, because it enables a society to apprehend and correct its own defects.

Woe to that nation whose literature is cut short by the intrusion of force. This is not merely interference with freedom of the press but the sealing up of a nation’s heart, the excision of its memory.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist


Devo said...

I'm pretty torn on this particular issue, Misanthrope. On the one hand, journalism is certainly on the decline as a reliable institution and needs every remaining protection to be shored up and potentially resuscitated.

In the case of Woodward and Bernstein, the source was doing an honorable thing by exposing a slimy bastard for what he is, a slimy bastard.

In this case, the bastard was committing an act of pure malice. Does this person really deserve the protection ostensibly afforded by journalistic iontegrity? Is it really "integrity" when you're protecting the slimy bastards you once took such pride in exposing?

I, for one, don't know. However, I do know that we've decided to test this whole journalistic integrity thing on a really slippery and probably pretty ill-advised case. Whatever the outcome, I don't see a victory in the outcome.

The Misanthrope said...

Hey Devo, as much as I despise Turd Blossom (Bush’s nickname for Karl Rove, for those who do not know), I would rather protect journalism’s ability to report and uncover information than have Rove in jail, besides Bush would never allow that to happen. What journalists need to be ever vigilant about is not to become stooges for partisan politics. The Bush gang has been masterful in dealing with the media and manipulating reporters through fear and favor.

Judith Miller’s case seems particularly partisan since she did not write a story and she is being prosecuted for possibly knowing information, which is a very dangerous precedent. It is no secret that the Bush gang hates the New York Times with a vengeance. And, if anyone knows how to be vengeful it’s Bush.

Devo said...

I do agree with you, Misantrhope, that journalism needs to be protected, now more than ever. I also agree that Bushco is coated with more teflon that Clinton ever had, and nobody in that entire criminal organization is likely to face any sort of rational justice. I do suppose that compromising integrity just to stick it to the man is probably misguided at best, downright dangerous at worst (setting a precedent and all)... it's just so damn frustrating seeing outrageous, jaw-dropping, brazen actions like what Rove might or might not have done go unpunished, almost unnoticed and always pulled off with that same shit-eating grin that Bush uses when he's condescending... er... giving news conferences. I also return to my incredulous inquiry before: what is happening to the real perpetrator, Novak? These propaganda mouthpieces are getting away with as much -- if not more -- than the damn Administration!!! How the hell can these morons bleat about the "liberal media" when a ridiculous percentage of the very same media is owned by Sinclair???

Sometimes I just don't get it. I'm gonna go read me some Farenheit 451 or 1984. That'll make me feel nice and un-paranoid.