Thursday, June 30, 2005
Oh towering hubris, thy name is journalism
Bernard Goldberg and others have tilted at the media windmill claiming bias for a long time. Others like Dan Rathers have cavalierly dismissed such claims, declaiming there was no bias at all in the media.
Just when the Valerie Palme affair had vanished amidst the ground clutter, it arises once again like an AH-64D firing a Hellfire scattering litigants all over the landscape in the explosion.
Today Time Magazine bowed to the inevitable and blinked. After the Supreme Court of the United States rejected Time Magazine’s appeal of a grand jury’s demand that their reporter Mr. Cooper reveal to the grand jury his source for the story that alledged Ms. Palme was a CIA agent. It also impacted another reporter, Judith Miller [author of God has Ninety-Nine Names] who was also ordered to reveal her source in the Palme affair.
What brings about the earlier rhapsodizing over bias is what Norman Pearlstine, Time Inc. editor in chief, said. Mr. Pearlstine said, “that once the Supreme Court has spoken in a case involving national security and a grand jury, we are not above the law and we have to behave the way ordinary citizens do.”
You really think so Mr. Pearlstine? I am amazed. So before this you thought the media was above all the laws that apply to normal citizens? That sir is a very dangerous conceit and which helps explain such glaring faux pas as Jayson Blair’s phony stories, that guy Eason Jordan from CNN who claimed the military was targeting journalists, the faked Rathergate memos, and now the Valeria Palme affair.
I hope this does send a chilling effect to all reporters. The Valerie Palme affair was pushed very hard in order to scuttle a sitting President. If these sources prove to be disingenuous, that there was malice aforethought on interested parties part; then the consequences could be even more grave since it would prove in a more concrete form this image journalists have of themselves since the Supreme Court in 1971 allowed the publication of ‘The Pentagon Papers’ that they are king makers.
It would be good if this caused a fair amount of reflection upon the part of the media. But there is someone in Congress who is already trying to move and erect defenses for journalists and their sources. He needs to be stopped for if journalists are allowed to use un-named sources with impunity then it becomes easier for journalists to employ a poison pen against anyone they have a grudge and claim an anonymous source told them. Journalists already have pretty good legal protection in slander cases because the injured party has to prove to the court there was malice when that story was put together.
In summary, bad or malicious reporting should have real consequences for those who peddle such calumny. Anything else actually does injury to the American political system and to inalienable rights because it creates a caste of people who is really above the law. And that is wrong.