Shield Journalism, Not Journalists -Three Simple Solutions to Judith Miller’s Messy Legal Problem

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Everyone has at least one dog to kick in the endless Valerie Plame/Robert Novak/Joseph Wilson/Judith Miller/Matthew Cooper/Karl Rove saga, which is scheduled to end up with the ”’New York Times”’ reporter being sentenced this week. So in the interest of giving my foot equal time, let me quickly emphasize that anyone who still takes Time magazine seriously as a journalistic or even functionally adult institution deserves far less than the establishmentarian swill they’re already getting.

You’d think that a $42 billion company could at least rent a spine, or recognize that standing up to a power-drunk federal prosecutor is an excellent opportunity for self-branding, and for asserting the important principle that reporters value their promises of confidentiality above a runaway grand jury’s right to zealously pervert a forgotten law. But instead, ”’Time’s”’ agreement to hand over Cooper’s notes proves only that the House of Luce will soil its Depends when the federal government says “Boo.” Well, good riddance.


Now, what of the messy legal considerations? Waving aside this case’s dense political stink-fog, there are, as I see it, three main legal issues raised and lessons to be learned from this embarrassing, Second World