Reporters Must Disclose Sources

by TChris

The conflict between reporters who want to protect their sources and prosecutors searching for leakers is in the news again. So is Judith Miller, and again the reporters are losing in court.

Someone told Miller and another reporter, Philip Shenon, that the government was poised to seize the assets of two Islamic charities. The charities were allegedly tipped to the government's plan when the reporters contacted them to get their reactions to the upcoming raid. Prosecutors want to know who tipped the reporters.

In a 2-1 decision, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the government's interest in learning the identity of the leaker outweighs the interest of a free press in protecting its sources.

"No grand jury can make an informed decision to pursue the investigation further, much less to indict or not indict, without the reporters' evidence," Judge Ralph K. Winter Jr. wrote for majority, in an opinion joined by Judge Amalya Lyle Kearse. "We see no danger to a free press in so holding. Learning of imminent law enforcement asset freezes/searches and informing targets of them is not an activity essential, or even common, to journalism."

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    Re: Reporters Must Disclose Sources (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Aug 02, 2006 at 01:55:57 AM EST
    When are we going to learn the difference between protecting a source to prevent a crime, and protecting a source to help commit, or get away with, a crime? If that simple distinction does not get made, it is that much harder to get righteous whistle-blowers to come forward, and THAT is the aim of the administration. It would help a LOT if the media was not panting for sensationalism, and instead, looking out for the need for an informed populace.

    Re: Reporters Must Disclose Sources (none / 0) (#2)
    by scribe on Wed Aug 02, 2006 at 03:14:48 AM EST
    Wouldn't it be funny if Judy's answer was "Scooter Libby, at the Mayflower Hotel, with a brioche"?

    Re: Reporters Must Disclose Sources (none / 0) (#3)
    by jen on Wed Aug 02, 2006 at 05:33:42 AM EST
    Reporters don't think before they "call for a reaction" - Like calling family before they have been notified. - Don't newspapers have lawyers and such? Wouldn't calling the target of a police raid ahead of time (especialy on information obtained through back channels) be legally iffy?

    Re: Reporters Must Disclose Sources (none / 0) (#4)
    by legion on Wed Aug 02, 2006 at 07:21:50 AM EST
    Jen - Ah, but we already know from the Iraqi WMD fallout that Miller had effectively no oversight whatsoever. Why should she follow rules if nobody's going to make her? It works for the gov't...

    Re: Reporters Must Disclose Sources (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Aug 02, 2006 at 08:03:37 AM EST
    Why should reporters get extra rights that I don't have? Who died and made them gods?

    Re: Reporters Must Disclose Sources (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Aug 02, 2006 at 01:14:38 PM EST
    I'm torn. "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." - Thomas Jefferson On the other hand, we are at war. On the third hand, we can't trust this administration with any suppression of the media. To much risk of covert reasons behind their censorship efforts.

    Re: Reporters Must Disclose Sources (none / 0) (#7)
    by jen on Wed Aug 02, 2006 at 03:12:55 PM EST
    Why isn't warning the mosque illegal? Regardless of source?

    Re: Reporters Must Disclose Sources (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimcee on Wed Aug 02, 2006 at 04:29:12 PM EST
    NYTimes just keeps hitting itself in the face every time they try to open the door. It never seems to occur to them that they are subject to the same laws as the rest of us proles. That's what happens when a publishers closest connection to the people is those it encounters in its youth while exiting the limo and entering the prep school door.