Friday, October 10, 2003

Taking Ethics Advice...

...from Cokie and Steve Roberts is like taking civility lessons from Donald Luskin, but I think they get it right here.

The test for any journalistic decision is weighing the benefit against the cost, and the costs were high. This agent’s career was damaged and her contacts jeopardized. But readers received little benefit from learning her name. Novak was wrong to reveal her identity.

But, of course, they get it wrong here:

Still, we strongly support Novak's decision to protect his source's identity, even if that source committed a crime by blowing the agent’s cover.

Novak had no problem revealing that he had used Robert Hanssen as a source. There was little or no reason to do so, as Novak didn't admit to passing on any erroneous information (whether or not he did is another question).