Skip to comments.The priesthood of the press? - (NY Times whining about Judith Miller jailing)
Posted on 07/07/2005 5:21:54 PM PDT by CHARLITE
Yesterday, New York Times reporter Judith Miller stood before a federal judge and defied his order to testify before a grand jury. According to the Reuters version of events, a grand jury investigation by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, a Justice Department prosecutor, seeks to determine who "in the Bush administration" leaked the name of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame in 2003 to the media and whether any laws were violated.
Right off the bat, one finds a compelling reason for ordering Judith Miller to reveal her sources. Why? Because we don't know if it was someone in the Bush administration who leaked Valerie Plame's name.
And frankly, I find it stretches the limits of credulity to suggest that Judith Miller (or any other liberal reporter) would risk jail to protect a member of the Bush administration in the first place.
But in any case, Judith Miller, the New York Times, Matthew Cooper and TIME Magazine are as subject to the laws of the land as anybody else. The Supreme Court ruled that they had to testify.
To refuse to do so now is equal to refusing to rent an apartment to a person of color, or to refuse to allow a woman access to an abortion clinic or to refuse to let black people sit at the counter in a restaurant or choose a seat near the front of the bus.
If there is a difference between Judith Miller's refusal to obey a federal judge and a final ruling from the Supreme Court and Judge Roy Moore's refusal to remove the Ten Commandments from an Alabama courthouse, I fail to see it.
Miller argued based on her First Amendment rights, "If journalists cannot be trusted to keep confidences, then journalists cannot function and there cannot be a free press."
Judge Moore argued that if the Ten Commandments cannot be posted in a federal office building, then the First Amendment guarantees against the free exercise of religion are equally meaningless.
Congress did not post the Ten Commandments in the Alabama courthouse Judge Roy Moore did. Judge Roy Moore is not Congress, and the Ten Commandments are not his personal expression of his Christian beliefs, since the Ten Commandments are Jewish law.
And the majority of Alabamans supported Judge Roy Moore with as much enthusiasm as journalists support Judith Miller.
Am I off base in wondering how it can be journalists are granted the exemption of the clergy while there is no similar exemption for religious rights? Based on the same amendment?
The same liberals who can find a prohibition against any religious "rights" based on the First Amendment's statement that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" somehow can find justification for refusing an order of the Supreme Court based on the First Amendment's prohibition against "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."
The First Amendment spelled out the religious part, saying "CONGRESS shall make no law ...," but liberals interpret that to mean a courthouse in Kentucky can't post a copy of the Ten Commandments.
If a Kentucky courthouse can become "Congress" for the purposes of prohibiting the free exercise of religion, then it is fair to argue that the Supreme Court's decision to allow an investigation into whether it was the Bush administration (rather than some Democratic National Committee dirty-tricks squad) broke a federal law is no less a stretch.
Frankly, I prefer that the Supreme Court read the constitutional amendments as written, but if one is to make a demon out of someone for defying the law on principle in one case costing Roy Moore his job and reputation then how can it be argued that another person, defying the same law on principle, is a hero? Especially if those heroics deny someone in this case, the Bush administration the right to redress by legal means what may be a dishonest accusation?
Judith Miller stood before the court, and, in the words of the Reuters account, "said in a firm, clear voice, 'If journalists cannot be trusted to keep confidences, then journalists cannot function and there cannot be a free press.'"
If the majority in any given state can be denied the free expression of the majority religious view of that state, then how can there be freedom of religion?
Nobody in the Alabama case was denying another religion the opportunity to express their view. And nobody in Alabama is forced to read the Ten Commandments.
The same liberals would argue that nobody is forced to watch Paris Hilton undulate to burlesque music in order to sell hamburgers. Instead, they argue we each have the right to change channels, or look away.
To read all Ten Commandments on a monument, one has to actually stop and READ them. They could as easily not stop to read them as I could change the channel when Paris Hilton's burlesque show offends my tender sensibilities.
The point isn't the Ten Commandments or the right of the free press to flip off the Supreme Court when they don't like a decision that goes against them. Accusations of illegal conduct have been leveled against the Bush administration for which, to this point, there is absolutely no evidence. And the administration is denied the right to confront its accuser, based on a strained reading of the First Amendment that interprets freedom of the press as being equivalent to clergy privilege.
Except "clergy privilege" does not entitle a clergyman to reveal the details of a privileged conversation for the express purpose of leveling an accusation and then exempt him from revealing the source of the accusation.
Judith Miller, the New York Times, TIME Magazine and Matt Cooper revealed confidential information about a CIA agent, and attributed the source to the Bush administration. Having heard the arguments, the court ruled no privilege existed under the circumstances.
The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether the Bush administration broke the law by giving TIME and the New York Times confidential information. To this point, there is no way of knowing if it was the Bush administration or not. One can certainly make a case to the effect that the information could have been leaked by someone wanting to damage the Bush administration by falsely attributing the leak to someone connected with Bush. And could is not the same as did, no matter who benefits or who loses from the revelation.
Of Miller's refusal to obey the rule of law, the the New York Times had this to say: "There are times when the greater good of our democracy demands an act of conscience."
I agree. Every time I pass an abortion clinic, I believe murdering the unborn does not serve the greater good of our democracy. Nobody gave the victim of an abortionist a vote. But if I violate the law prohibiting me from exercising my conscience too close to the kill zone, my act of conscience has legal penalties.
So does Judith Miller's.
The Supreme Court, in each scenario, said so. So, what is all the whining about?
Hal Lindsey is the best-selling author of 20 books, including "Late Great Planet Earth." He writes this weekly column exclusively for WorldNetDaily. Be sure to visit his website where he provides up-to-the-minute analysis of today's world events in the light of ancient prophecies.,a href=http://www.hallindseyoracle.com/>http://www.hallindseyoracle.com/
Funny how the "already captured press" did not stand to defend the Church when the Courts were breaking down the
clerics right to privacy with their confessors. Now the
press is again moaning about the loss of their first amendment rights.Too bad they didn't recall that popular
skit about the Nazi First they came for . . . but I wasn't
... so I did nothing. . . then when they came for me there was no-one left to stand with me.(poor rememberence of it-but I reckon others smarter than I will know whereof I speak.)
Hal Lindsey DOES look like William Shatner though! Interesting perspective......
The press loudly complained that whoever exposed Valerie Plame's identity committed a criminal act, and then the press complained when federal prosecutors asked a reporter who the source of this supposed criminal act was.
If it was a criminal act, then this reporter is complicit, and doubly complicit for covering it up. There is no obligation to keep a criminal communication confidential.
So, which is it?
I totally disagree with Ms. Millers understanding of the First Amendment. Ms. Miller herself admits her argument for defense was poor as she agreed she should be put in jail.
While I normally tend to think of journalists as being liberal Ms. Millers actions are certainly perplexing. Certainly she must have realized that naming someone she considered a secret agent of the CIA ...could possibly be against the law or at least place that agent and her family in some peril.
Now that she has been sentenced to four months incarceration it seems she is willing to take responsibility for her actions. According to an article by Micheal J. Sniffen of the Associated Press which appeared in the Washington Post she is reported telling U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, I do not view myself as above the law. You are right to sent me to prison. She also said that she made a confidential pledge and she would honor that pledge.
She made a poor choice to begin with but she also honors her pledge. She takes responsibility for her actions and she apparently is will to do the time for her crime. Could it be that while she may be misguided, she is the only honorable journalist left on the planet?
Perhaps there is still hope for the press.
As usual, you always get it right, Cicero! Thanks for the simplicity of this comment. You're right, of course.