Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Come clean

An interesting piece in the Village Voice, of all places, that touches on the notion that reporters need to be a bit more forthcoming about their role in L'affair Plame (Hat tip to the gentlemen at Real Clear Politics for digging this out).

Take the story in Washington now about the "outing" of a CIA operative's identity. The press was directly involved in the blowing of Valerie Plame's cover because the White House used reporters as their conduits for the leak. That led to the current investigation by a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald. Under certain circumstances, revealing the identity of an undercover intelligence officer—or disclosing classified information—can be a federal crime. So can perjury or obstruction of justice, both of which may have occurred during the 18-month course of this investigation. A number of reporters and a larger number of Bush officials have given depositions to Fitzgerald or testified before his grand jury. One reporter, Judith Miller of The New York Times, has been jailed for civil contempt for refusing to identify her confidential source or sources. I think she did the right thing, as did the Times for supporting her all the way.

Yet when the investigation concludes, Miller and the other reporters who were caught up in it face another serious issue: Since they played a definite role in the story, will they explain that role to the public, the audience we journalists say we serve? Will they come forward and describe in detail—as reporters do all the time about the participants in events we write about—what transpired, what the reporters told investigators, why they or their employers chose or refused to cooperate with the authorities, and so on? In other words, will they tell their own stories? They can do all this without giving us the names of their confidential sources, which is a serious breach of journalistic ethics and tradition.

Of course in keeping with the grand tradition of the Voice, the underlying presumption is that of ill will on the part of the Bush Administration at Joe Wilson and his clandestine bride. But the underlying issue of press involvement in such stories is one worth thinking about and consequently worth discussing.

Sydney Schanberg puts it so:

Why do I consider this personal accounting by journalists so important? Because they and their journalism were pieces of the story and should not be left blank. Because reporters risk losing credibility as independent observers if they are seen as cooperators and information gatherers for government agencies. And, perhaps most crucial, because we have no rational explanation for calling regularly on government and corporate giants to release all possible information to the public if we ourselves decline to release the details about our roles and our processes when they are germane to the story.

Just something to think about...

No comments:

  • Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels
  • Evangelical Outpost
  • One Hand Clapping
  • Camp Katrina
  • TPMCafe
  • Dodger Thoughts
  • Boy of Summer
  • Irish Pennants
  • tabletalk
  • Fire McCain
  • My Sandmen
  • Galley Slaves
  • Michelle Malkin
  • myelectionanalysis
  • Iraq the Model
  • Mystery Pollster
  • A Bellandean! God, Country, Heritage
  • Right Truth
  • The Fourth Rail
  • Counterterrorism Blog
  • Just One Minute
  • Broken Masterpieces
  • Kudlow's Money Politic$
  • Econopundit
  • Tapscott's Copy Desk
  • The Blue State Conservatives
  • Palousitics
  • Christian Conservative
  • Outside the Beltway
  • The Belmont Club
  • Froggy Ruminations
  • The Captain's Journal
  • Argghh!!!
  • Chickenhawk Express
  • Confederate Yankee
  • Reasoned Audacity
  • Taking Notes
  • ThisDamnBlog
  • Three Knockdown Rule
  • Dogwood Pundit
  • Dumb Looks Still Free
  • Unfettered Blather
  • Cut to the Chase
  • Alabama Improper
  • Austin Bay Blog
  • Michael Yon-Online
  • The Trump Blog
  • A Lettor of Apology
  • GM Fastlane Blog

  • Powered by Blogger

    Listed on BlogShares Who Links Here