(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Monday, July 11, 2005

Cooper, Time, Miller and Rove
This article about Matt Cooper's near-jail experience to protect his "source," Karl Rove, makes the whole thing seem extremely odd to me. If I'm reading correctly, Rove really had (as we were all led to believe) signed a document waiving any confidentiality privilege and giving his permission for any reporters to testify about conversations they had with him. And so first odd thing is that Cooper -- perhaps along with many others in journalism -- thinks that morality or professionalism or something requires a journalist to refuse to testify EVEN IF there is such a waiver, unless the source ALSO tells the particular journalist "yes, and that includes you"? I do understand the notion that some waivers, in some contexts, are coerced. But the only "coercion" that could have existed here was Rove's own mental calculus about what was better as a political matter and what was better for his own job prospects. But Cooper thought that morality required him to keep Rove's statements to him a secret, even though Rove had balanced his own interests and decided to the contrary? This really does sound to me as though journalists think that they are super-human, more wise than the rest of us and bound by their own non-legal moral code that trumps everything else.

The second odd thing is -- ok then, is Judith Miller even more so? Or is her source someone else, someone who either hasn't given a blanket waiver or wasn't willing to have his lawyer tell hers, "yes that means you too."?

posted by sam 7:14 AM 2 comments

2 Comments:

My gut reaction is that Judith Miller is protecting herself under the guise of her so-called journalistic integrity. She has been complicit in promoting the administration's (and Chalabi's) p.o.v. on the war, so she has a lot to hide. Watching Bill Keller on CSPAN trying to defend Miller with call after call (and one very reasonable gentle caller from a small family owned newspaper, explaining why Miller covering up for a crime isn't equivalent to journalists protecting sources who are exposing crimes...) was quite interesting.

By Anonymous am, at 9:20 AM  

This is what journalistic "integrity" and principle have come down to: a willingness to go prison to avoid harming or angering the Bush Administration. Access to highly placed government sources--not investigative tenacity--is the stock in trade of certain journalists; and Miller is a good example, she has spent years being fed and then trumpeting propaganda from her well placed sources in the highest reaches of the federal government. She did it with Nicaragua in the 1980s when she helped justify U.S. support for the terrorist contras and she did it in the run up to the Iraq war, giving credence to the WMD fictions. Time and Matt Cooper will pay the price in lost access, but Judith Miller will continue to be able to advance government policy through her "investigative" reporting. In this sense, protecting the source is an inviolate reporter's principle--even when it involves covering up, instead of exposing, a crime--but its quite a bit less high minded than the way the NYT likes to present it.

By Anonymous LJ, at 7:13 PM  

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