Wednesday, February 16, 2005
(P)lame Press Privilege
I've never understood why the reporters who received grand jury subpoenas in the Valerie Plame case tried to use the "anonymous source" privilege to get out of testifying. Now that a federal appeals court has ordered them to testify, it's clear that this case is different from others where protection of anonymous sources is vital. This graf from a Forbes article captures the distinction perfectly:
In any event, the Plame case is nothing like the prototype that might justify a privilege. In this case, the crime, if there was a crime, was the leak itself. The sources were not witnesses to scandal; they are the scandal. Those who exposed Wilson's wife in effect used the press to do their dirty work, not to cleanse it. Their goal, at least according to Wilson, was not to reveal truth, but to punish Wilson for his revelations.
As best as we can tell, they are not brave truth tellers, but craven score-settlers, and powerful government officials to boot. Wouldn't it serve even the press' interest--along with everyone else's--to expose these scoundrels rather than continue to help them hide?