Saturday, July 09, 2005

Journalists and the Law

According to a New York Times report, the editor of The Cleveland Plain Dealer said that it is not publishing two "major investigative articles" because they are based on "illegally leaked documents." He said the paper is concerned about being forced to reveal the identities of the sources who illegally provided the documents.

The editor referred to the recent cases of Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine. Both were legally required to reveal sources to a grand jury. Miller refused and is in jail, and Cooper agreed to identify sources just before he was sent to jail.

The editor said he was surprised that there was so little public reaction to the disclosure that "real live news had been stifled." I'm not surprised. Most of the American people don't share the media's opinion of its own importance. More than that, most people don't trust the media, and they don't approve of stealing or illegally receiving stolen information.

Even though the paper has decided not to publish, the editor and his reporters said they would be willing to go to jail if necessary. No doubt. Nothing makes a journalist more famous and envied by his colleagues than to become the star of the story, and that's what most of these self-absorbed prima donnas really want.

Government at all levels possesses legally restricted information, such as classified defense information and grand jury proceedings. The government's ability to keep information like this secret is important to all of us. That's why it's against the law to steal it. Journalists who do that aren't heroes. They're criminals, and criminals belong in jail.


Blogger carla said...

A free press that's able to report any government wrongdoing is crucial to a free society.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer story IS very important because unlike your contention..the media is extremely important to the function of the United States.

Debasing the media is playing into the hands of those who find government more important than the citizenry, Tom.

3:11 PM, July 10, 2005  
Blogger Zipcard2 said...

The media has done it to itself. It's a shame that the media has become for the most part bought and paid for by "special interest" groups. They should be held accountable for their actions as well as anyone else. Most aren't. They get away with printing rumors with nothing to back them up except "protected" sources. It has become sickening.

5:26 PM, July 11, 2005  
Blogger John Walter said...

Neither reporters nor elected officials are above the law. In any criminal investigation, a citizen is obliged to tell what he or she knows. To do otherwise is aiding and abetting.

At the same time, does anyone notice the irony of this situation? The NYT and Time Magazine, both of which are hostile to the president, are placed in a position where they are attempting to conceal sources whose leaked information has helped administration pursue policies which they despise.

Covering up for Karl Rove! My goodness!

10:50 AM, July 12, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Carla, no one has a greater appreciation for the necessity of a free the press than I. The only points I've tried to make are that journalists are not above the law, no matter what they think, and American journalists are citizens of the U.S., with the responsibilities that implies, no matter what they think. Journalists can do their jobs effectively and with perfect freedom if they simply report the news without trying to steal information or committing other crimes in the process.

5:03 PM, July 12, 2005  

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