Friday, December 10, 2004

Secrets & Lies & Videotape

I watched Lou Dobbs tonight. He covered the Jim Taricani case - the reporter sentenced for not revealing his source who provided him with an FBI videotape showing a city official being bribed.

Meanwhile, in that little matter known as the Valerie Plame case, I have seen only brief mention of Robert Novak's name in connection with it. He wrote the article, didn't he? And isn't leaking the name of a CIA operative a higher offense than leaking a local FBI investigation tape?
I think Novak is a bit of a scumbag, but I don't think he should be punished. Honestly, it probably shouldn't be taking them so long to find out who leaked the name (hmmm....). Still, Novak didn't take any heat for publishing the information or for witholding the name of his source.

"Novak refused to say whether he has also received a subpoena; he is referring all questions on the matter to his attorney.

In a statement, NBC News President Neal Shapiro said the network would fight the subpoena, although Russert was not the recipient of a leak.

"The American public will be deprived of important information if the government can freely question journalists about their efforts to gather news," Shapiro said. "Sources will simply stop speaking to the press if they fear those conversations will become public."

Time Magazine general counsel Robin Bierstedt told CNN that the publication would also fight the subpoena, saying that Time's policy is to protect confidential sources. Time Magazine and CNN are related companies, both part of the Time-Warner Co.

Former federal prosecutors told CNN that investigators are required to exhaust other possible leads before resorting to questioning journalists, so that issuing subpoenas is a signal that the investigation is in its final stages."
I think Novak should take some heat from media colleagues and from viewers for being a Republican stooge, and for disclosing Plame's name to no end. Alas, it will not happen. And meanwhile, it seems that others are being pulled into this vortex.
"In perhaps the highest profile case of its kind, reporters from the New York Times, NBC and Time Magazine were held in contempt this year as part of the investigation into whether the Bush administration leaked the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame to the news media."
All of this love of disclosure is ironic given that it is done in pursuit of more secrecy.