Thursday, March 24, 2005
Reversing course: Now that it looks like some reporters may face jail time at the hands of an overzealous prosecutor (originally egged on by various newspapers), journalists are now considering that a crime may never have occurred in the Joseph Wilson/Valerie Plame expose.
The 40-page brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, argues that there is "ample evidence . . . to doubt that a crime has been committed" in the case, which centers on the question of whether Bush administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame in the summer of 2003. Plame's name was published first by syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak and later by other publications.
The friend-of-the-court brief was filed by 36 news organizations, including The Washington Post and major broadcast and cable television news networks, in support of reporters at the New York Times and Time magazine who face possible jail time for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury investigating the allegations. Those two organizations filed a petition Tuesday asking the full appeals court to review the case.
A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit ruled in February that two reporters -- Judith Miller of the Times and Matthew Cooper of Time -- should be jailed for contempt if they continued to refuse to name their sources to the grand jury.
This is an issue the media outlets should have addressed early on -- but they weren't interested because it was a handy club with which to bash the Bush administration. Now that that club has turned into a sword hanging over the heads of some journalists, the newspapers, magazines and TV news networks have reconsidered their position.
Is the media interested in the truth, or in chasing a "scandal" that benefits their ideological allies? Apparently the answer is first the latter, then the former.