Saturday, July 16, 2005


On Miller:

We're into some deep ethical shit here, at least if you're a journalist or still have the values of one. Utlimately, it gets to a debate over the future of the First Amendment in a system increasingly dominated by money and power. But along the way, it makes an intermediate stop at the question of whether, net-net, it is still in the public interest for journalists to protect their sources from the long arm of the law.

I've always been an absolute supporter of the duty -- not the right, but the duty -- of reporters to protect their sources. There was a time when I would have been an equally unthinking, knee-jerk supporter of a federal shield law. But, after what's come to light about the Rovians and their cozy little circle of journalistic collaborators, I have to think about it.

Left to their own devices, corporate journalists seem increasingly inclined to act as an arm of the government, not a watchdog of it. Which means the licence granted by the traditions of the profession -- which in some ways extend even further than the legal rights guaranteed by the First Amendment -- can and are being used against the public interest, not to protect it. We seem to have run into yet another variation on the old Roman question: Quid custodiet ipsos custodes? Who shall watch the watchers?

He also points out that the Times itself is releasing non-denial denials regarding Miller's role in this. Fascinating.