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Monday, 27 June 2005


Steve Bates

My only question is why Novak isn't facing the same threat. Maybe it's because he has already testified... that sleazebag, faced with prison time, wouldn't give a moment's thought to whether his testimony would or would not be a violation of his journalistic ethics. But given all the secrecy surrounding the investigation, there's always the possibility that someone intervened in Novak's behalf behind the scenes. If the leaker is high enough up in the administration, he may be able to accomplish that, and we'd never be the wiser. Am I reading this the worst way it could be read? yeah, I am; so what? why should I not?


I think Novakula has already squealed...or struck a deal for immunity. But no, he wouldn't have had to think twice about violating his journalistic ethics--largely because he doesn't have any.


Granted, in terms of corruptive scope, as well as the depth of investigation, this doesn't compare so well to Watergate. To suggest, however, that it won't negatively impact the number of potentially vital anonymous sources is really presumptuous.


I have to disagree, Noah. It's not my impression, admittedly not on the basis of an overwhelming amount of information, that "vital anonymous sources" are either coming forth in droves now or likely to be scared off by the rulings in Cooper and Miller.

What we seem to have is a plethora of anonymous flacks--be they from government, the corporate world, or even the media itself--coming forward on "deep background" to do what amounts to little more than spin, and getting treated like they were the functional equivalents of Deep Throat. They aren't revealing corruption or malfeasance, they're carrying water for their bosses as a matter of routine. Modern journalism may have become addicted to them, and relies on them to an admittedly alarming degree. But that doesn't make them noble, and it certainly doesn't mean they should be able to hide behind the shield of the First Amendment--which was designed for precisely the kind of "vital anonymous sources" you're talking about.

What we need is for the members of the modern media to understand the distinction, and to give promises of confidentiality only to people who really need it.


If you could, I'd appreciate a heads-up on
whatever literature informed your perspective. As far as I've learned both from actual news content and analysis, finding any divergence from official party messages in political reporting requires a reliance on anonymous sources. I'd love to read anything that substantively contradicts this impression, however.

Also, I don't see this as a matter of the press' air of nobility, but rather the accessibility and variety of information, which already suffers for the overconcentration on official governmental sources in the media.


Refining the above comment a bit, I didn't mean to suggest that there is an absolute lack of information beyond the talking points of political organizations, but a much less ample body of commentary than is obtained with the veil of anonynmity.

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