Saturday, March 10, 2007

Journalists Calling For A Law That Would Prevent Reporting

Posted by olvlzl.
The Scooter Libby trial and conviction has left the media calling for shield laws, the necessity of protecting confidential sources is the rationale. Looking at the entire picture, I’m inclined to believe that confidential sources for journalism do need protection but, as you can imagine, I’m not buying that Judith Miller and Robert Novak’s cronies are the ones who are at issue.

Joe Wilson’s piece that set off the frenzy of law breaking that culminated in Scooter Libby’s conviction was certainly the most important actual reporting on the case for invading Iraq in the corporate media in 2003. Those weren't exactly numerous back then. He went to Niger, found that part of the “case” to be untrue and reported it in the media. The New York Times, home of Judith Miller’s neo-con stenography printed it, probably the only actual media story in the whole thing. Miller reported neo-con press releases, Wilson reported what he had found out.

Scooter Libby’s role as a “source”, as claimed by Miller and other corporate shills, was far overshadowed by his potential role as a felon or a shield for other felons. Miller wasn’t covering up for a “source” she was covering up law breaking. Reporters, even real ones, don’t have a right to cover up crimes. Miller, as the world should certainly know by now, isn’t a real reporter, much, much less Robert Novak.

Lost in this whining by the media is the plain fact that Cheney’s office was involved in a conspiracy to keep the public from finding out that the case made to invade Iraq was a gauzy veil of lies. They were the ones who were trying to subvert “the People’s right to know”. Robert Novak was not acting as a journalist in going with their spin, he was an active part in trying to punish Joe Wilson for doing real journalism. And that shouldn’t ever be forgotten. While the media stars were covering up the truth for the Bush regime*, Joe Wilson was the one who was guilty of telling the People the truth.

I used to be a supporter of shield laws, knowing that unless people know the truth they will be helpless in the face of public relations on behalf of oligarchy. This affair has made me change my mind. Novak, Miller and the rest of the Bush Regime’s Friends List don’t deserve protection. They don’t practice journalism. A shield law isn’t a right for the corporate media, it would be a considerable privilege, not a personal but a professional privilege. Privileges like that should be given only if there is a compelling public service requirement, a service paid by the recipient of the privilege to the People. Our media, the ones who will never risk ending up on another Republican president’s Enemies List, giving them a shield law would only result in another Scooter Libby being able to suppress the truth without having to worry about someone testifying about it. It would end up protecting criminals. What is most revealing about this is that, these “journalists” are calling for a law that would enable another president or vice president to punish people for practicing journalism.

* Last night on the “News” Hour, David Brooks was continuing that effort.