Tuesday, June 28, 2005

AS HE DOES WAY MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, Kevin Drum gets it absolutely right when he goes on record to defend the right of reporters not to reveal their sources -- and when he says why that right is so important. It has to do with journalistic integrity and freedom; not with whether the reporter is an all-around nice guy and great family man, or with whether the reporter is a corporate media flack who never met an establishment boot she didn't want to lick.

... I've never met either Matt Cooper or Judith Miller, but I don't think their personal likability should be an issue one way or the other in this case.

Despite that, I agree 100% with Garance Franke-Ruta and Armando that liberal blog readers ought to change their tune on this issue posthaste. You either support the right of reporters to shield their sources or you don't, and your opinion shouldn't vary based on whether (a) you dislike the reporters in question or (b) you'd like the information they're hiding to become public because you think it would be embarrassing to George Bush.

As it happens, I favor the passage of a federal shield law for reporters that would protect their right to conceal their sources. Today, we don't have one (although some states do). If Miller and Cooper are sent to jail, it will have a chilling effect on the ability of reporters to aggressively cover government malfeasance, and in the end I think that's way more important than the details of this particular case. God knows we don't need the press to become even more timid than they already are on this score.

The First Amendment. It rocks.

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