Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Leaks and the limits of the First Amendment

Walter Pincus gets to the heart of what's wrong with the media freakout about DoJ's leak investigations. Do read it all, it's short but here's the main point. The media may "just be doing their job" but the leaker is in breach of their contract. The leaker is breaking the law to give them the information. So why is it so damn scandalous for the DoJ to seek to enforce the law? That is their job.

As Pincus points out:
Applying labels such as co-conspirator provides a probable cause for the judge to grant the warrant, as in the Rosen case. If Rosen offered money or some other reward, it might be a different case. I believe the First Amendment covers the right to publish information, but it does not grant blanket immunity for how that information is gathered.
Rosen actively encouraged his source to break the law. He brazenly waltzed in and out of the State Department wth barely an attempt to cover his tracks. I used more sophisticated subterfuge to hide my underage cigarette smoking from my parents. And I'm not moved by the wailing about leak investigations “intimidating a growing number of government sources.” The DoJ's job is not to make it easy for lazy journalists to get a scoop. Furthermore, exposing active undercover counterterrorism operations being conducted in the interests of national security is not whistleblowing. It just isn't.

The White House Correspondents’ Association board was late to the defense of the reporters. When they say, “Reporters should never be threatened with prosecution for the simple act of doing their jobs,” it should raise the question, what the hell is their job? Traditionally it was to watchdog government misconduct, not to expose our intelligence assets who are risking their lives to provide inside information on foreign plots against our country.

The principle of freedom of the press on which our country was founded was designed to protect criticism of corrupt politicians. Our founders designed it protect the press from retribution when it exposes government misconduct. It's not a blanket exemption for exploiting insider connections to expose rightful government process conducted for our protection simply to win a news cycle.

As Pincus notes there's a big difference between nothing being more sacred to the profession of journalism and the notion that “nothing is more sacred than our profession.” At some point we have to ask, is journalism even a profession anymore, or is it just another Big Business conducted for no loftier goal than corporate profit.

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Blogger merlallen said...

What is it with right wingers always exposing intelligence operations and operatives? Are they finally going to admit that they don't really care about National Security?

1:06:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

"At some point we have to ask, is journalism even a profession anymore, or is it just another Big Business conducted for no loftier goal than corporate profit."

Why ask. Don't we know the answer already?

National security vs financial security -- again, where's the question?

2:11:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

By we, I actually meant them. The rest of us do know the answer to that question already.

2:18:00 PM  

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