BLITZER: Why didn't you immediately inform your readers, when he told you, yes, he had learned about this early on, long before, you know, Bob Novak wrote his column in July of 2003? Why not, without revealing the source, at least tell your readers what's going on?
DOWNIE: Because the source didn't allow us to. The source was insisting on maintaining the confidentiality of this particular part of his interviews with Bob and the rest of these interviews with Bob, for that matter. So we didn't have something we could report at that time.
So, it's not just source identities that are now confidential but the information that they tell you? The Washington Post pays Woodward to discuss things with people he can't tell his readers?
BLITZER: You could have revealed to your readers that an unnamed source had told Bob Woodward about this two years earlier without naming the source.
DOWNIE: At that point, once Bob had told me about this, then a chain of events took place that led to his being asked by the special prosecutor to testify in a deposition, which Bob did on Monday.
I still haven't gotten clear on what this "chain of events" was, but in any case once again why is the content of the conversation itself secret?
BLITZER: There were some days, though, that you could have. You're saying that this happened before October 28th, the day the grand jury expired. That was the day that Scooter Libby was indicted. He came to you a few days earlier. It wasn't until November 3rd that this source came to the prosecutor, to Patrick Fitzgerald and said, "I did have a conversation with Bob Woodward." So there was a period of a week, at least, I'm guessing, that this information could have been disclosed.
DOWNIE: During which time we were still under the confidentiality pledge, as we are as I sit here talking to you right now. That this is a confidential source who does not want us to report on this information. And we're still unable to. We must maintain the sanctity of these source relationships.
So, the "sanctity of these source relationships" means they tell you things you promise not to reveal to your readers?