Mudcat Café message #1413123 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1413123
Posted By: GUEST,Amos
17-Feb-05 - 01:55 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Another article on the corrosive chilling of free press in the United States by its own leadership:

The Need for a Federal Shield

Published: February 17, 2005

As a matter of self-interest, Americans need to appreciate the rising threat to the news media's ability to provide a free flow of information about their government. Close to a dozen reporters around the nation face legal pressure to reveal sources, and some face the threat of jail terms. A federal appeals panel in the District of Columbia declined this week to spare Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times the prospect of being jailed for up to 18 months. They are refusing to testify about confidential sources to a grand jury investigating how the name of a covert intelligence officer was leaked to a conservative columnist.

The leaking is a potential crime, and while the reporters did not reveal the officer's name, their digging after the leak is being construed by the courts as making them essential to the investigation.

Ms. Miller never wrote a story about the issue. Mr. Cooper wrote about the administration's rumored political motives for unmasking the officer to the columnist Robert Novak. It remains a mystery whether prosecutors have tried to compel Mr. Novak's testimony; he will not say.

The chilling possibilities for journalism at large are obvious as the case moves further along the appeals chain. Government officials with valuable information on matters of public interest may have second thoughts about trying to reach the public through trusted reporters. Journalists will more than ever have to weigh the risk of jail against the need to protect worthy sources, a practice with a long history of redounding to the citizenry's benefit. (...)