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February 25, 2005

The WSJ and PlameGate

The notorious editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has weighed in on Novak-Plame-gate.  And it's a pretty funny piece - a tour de force, really, although they'd probably hate the use of a French phrase to describe their work.  In the span of a single editorial, they manage to (1) trash the NY Times; (2) trash every other "liberal newspaper" in the country; (3) claim that President Bush's "16 words" in the 2003 State of the Union speech were accurate; (4) trash Joseph Wilson, who claimed that they weren't; (5) claim that the outing of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative was legal; (6) claim that once Joseph Wilson got involved in the debate over the "16 words," his wife's identity as a CIA operative was going to come out one way or another, so what's the big deal; (7) trash John Ashcroft for buckling under the "relentless lobbying by the Times and other media" and recusing himself from the investigation into the leak; (8) trash Patrick Fitzgerald, the Plamegate special prosecutor; (9) trash James Comey, the second-in-command at the Justice Department, for not reining in Fitzgerald enough; (10) trash the D.C. Circuit opinion finding no First Amendment privilege for reporters to shield their sources; (11) trash Judge David Tatel's concurring opinion that would allow reporters to claim a qualified common law privilege; and (12) trash any version of a federal shield law that would extend beyond "established news organizations" (i.e., bloggers). 

On top of all of that, of course, they dutifully parrot the mainstream media refrain that the Plamegate investigation "threatens the entire press corps."  But they seem more interested in trashing people they don't like than worrying too much about supposed threats to press freedom.

I've already discussed Plamegate at length here, here, here, here, and here, and I have better things to do with my time (believe it or not) than rehash my views to rebut each of the WSJ's points, which IMHO are either silly, petulant, outrageous, highly dubious, or wrong.  The main point of this post, really, is to express admiration for the WSJ's ability to spew so much bile in a single editorial.  Pass the Pepto....

UPDATE: I just happened across this op-ed by Steve Chapman, a Chicago Tribune columnist, who bucks the MSM trend by opining that the reporters in this case should be required to testify.  His concluding paragraph:

The press is right in saying an important principle is at stake: its ability to get information that the public needs to know. But in this case, that principle should yield to the need to protect agents who are serving their country. Journalists might remember that sometimes, a vice is merely a virtue that is taken too far.

Amen, brother.  Kudos to Mr. Chapman - it's good to know that there are at least a few MSM voices that aren't mindlessly parroting the received wisdom on this issue.  (For a depressing contrast, read this silly piece by CBS's Bob Schieffer, the logical fallacies of which are too obvious and too numerous to bother cataloguing here.)

Posted by David at 10:18 AM in Law and Lawyers, National | Permalink


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