Monday, August 09, 2004

Russert Squeals

Depending on what Russert actually knew, I actually thinking squealing is the right thing to do here, and doing so is not a violation of any reasonable journalistic code of ethics.

But, here we have what appears to be a case of Russert standing on what he perceived as principle -- until faced with the possibility of jail time. If so -- coward.
A reporter is being held in contempt of court and faces possible jail time, and another was earlier threatened by a federal judge with the same fate, after they refused to answer questions from a special prosecutor investigating whether administration officials illegally disclosed the name of a covert CIA officer last year.

Newly-released court orders show U.S. District Court Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan two weeks ago ordered Matt Cooper of Time magazine and Tim Russert of NBC to appear before a grand jury and tell whether they knew that White House sources provided the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame to the media.The Justice Department probe is trying to determine whether this information was provided knowingly, in violation of the law. Hogan's orders show that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald believes Cooper and Russert know the answer.

Cooper still refused to answer questions after Hogan's July 20 order, and on Aug. 6 Hogan held him in contempt of court and ordered that he go to jail. Cooper has been released on bond pending his emergency appeal to a federal appeals court. Hogan has ordered that Time pay a $1,000 fine for each day Cooper does not appear before the grand jury.

Sources close to the investigation said they believe Russert was not held in contempt Aug. 6 because he agreed to answer the questions after Hogan's July 20 ruling.

Of course, it goes without saying that once Russert became a part of an investigation of the highest officials in government he should have been put on leave until it was resolved.