Sunday, March 11, 2007


Foxes and Hens

Hearing the pundits and talking heads speak about the potential for a chilling effect on journalism due to the involvement of journalists in the successful prosecution of "Scooter" Libby indicates to me that they just don't "get it" and potentially are purposefully refusing to "get it": it's one thing to protect the identity of a whistle-blower, be it a fox, guard-dog or hen, but it's another thing to be a guard-dog and hide the identity of the fox entering into the henhouse. At the very least, whatever happened to "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable"?

Alas if journalists, prosecutors and judges cannot be depended upon to exercise the prudence, discretion and judgment that are supposed to be prerequisite to their professional obligations, perhaps we need legislation to clarify what is a protected source and what is not? I wrote my Congresscritter and the Dem. Senator of my state to suggest this and I urge y'all to do so as well.

What we cannot have is stenographers for the powers that be hiding behind journalistic privilege to avoid doing their jobs and identifying which foxes are stealing our hens. On the other hand, we cannot have the existence of those stenographers used by those foxes as an excuse for going after real journalists who need to keep confidential a source indicating someone placed a fox in charge of the henhouse. It is regretable that common sense cannot deal with these sorts of issues -- but given what the self-proclaimed arbiters of reasonablenss are saying, we cannot trust anyone to be sensible -- so we may have to legislate the distinction: as the hens are too important to our livelihoods to be left to the foxes!

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