Skip to comments.Mullen: Lazy feds hassle press for source
Posted on 07/10/2005 8:02:45 AM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
After 26 years in the newspaper biz I'm still astounded at what I can learn. Watching New York Times reporter Judith Miller go to jail last week for refusing to divulge a confidential source to a grand jury was truly a teaching moment.
The lesson: Our federal government isn't much interested in doing its own work to solve a crime, and it certainly isn't bothered by trying to intimidate an independent press from reporting the news. It would rather ferret out the bad guys by demanding that reporters lend a hand - even Miller, who never actually wrote a story about the issue at hand. That would be the case before special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who is charged with determining the source of a Bush administration leak of the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.
Times attorney Floyd Abrams speculated that federal prosecutors nailed Miller because someone else had dropped her name to the grand jury as a possible source of information in the case.
Talk about a fishing expedition.
Any high school civics teacher will draw you a map. A free and unfettered press that digs for information from a frequently balky government is a good thing.
People who report the news for a living weren't meant to do the work of police and prosecutors, especially when that information exists in other places, and government investigators can find it on their own with proper legwork.
But then I have a bit of heartburn still simmering in my gut on this topic. Exactly 11 years ago, I was in the hot seat before a criminal grand jury in Texas, where a prosecutor grilled me for information on a notorious gang murder in a quiet Fort Worth suburb.
I didn't know, after working for days to land an interview with the creepy little gangbanger jailed in the case that I would end up sweating under the gaze of a Tarrant County grand jury. The cocky 16-year-old chief suspect in the case simply returned my call and I was there to answer.
I knew then what I know more than ever now: A reporter worth the paper her paycheck is printed on pushes every limit. After listening to this monster brag for 10 minutes about his long life of crime, I asked him straight on: Did you kill that kid?
Yes, he said, and with pride. He rolled out telling details. He clearly loved the moment.
The story of his confession landed on the front page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The next day, I got a call from an assistant county prosecutor. She wanted to know how I got that story.
"I asked and he answered," I said. She asked for my notes. I told her how to reach the newspaper's attorney.
I got subpoenaed, along with my notes. Our lawyer fought it. The paper eventually gave in. I went to the grand jury. The 16-year-old and a couple of accomplices were charged with homicide and convicted.
The authorities made a fascinating discovery, which is something I told them all along. Everything worthwhile in my notes appeared in the story. What kind of reporter would I be for leaving the best stuff in the notebook? All they had to do was read the paper.
Unlike Miller, I never went to jail. Not even close. But when journalists talk of cases like Miller's creating a chilling effect against sources sharing information, or of self-censorship that reporters practice for fear of prosecution, trust me. It happens.
It took some time to dig through the fallout of my own little legal bomb. It jolted me.
I bounced back and I'm still pushing. But I hope never to meet a grand jury again. It's no place for a reporter to be.
I've been called as a witness and a juror at differing times in my life and I didn't have a lawyer at my work fight it because I didn't feel like doing it. If this individual has no sense of civic duty, then what the hell are they doing in their profession anyway?
Just another dipwad crying over rights they dont have.
Most just spew out what talking points they get from the DNC.
Woodward and Bernstein, now it is revealed, did minimal "investigating".
They were handed the entire story in detail by a traitorous snitch.
In the midst of a war, President Nixon was rightly concerned about Democrats consorting with the enemy.
Gee whiz.....things never change!!
Traitors will be traitors!!
You're under oath, you are asked a question, and you answer it! How hard is that?! I think most reporters don't want to reveal their "undisclosed" sources because they made it all up. There are no sources to reveal.
Then, this is supposed to somehow be logically linked to another reporter going to jail for not revealing a source. What does one case have to do with the other? Just asking, since Holly Mullen didn't keep her identity or the killer's identity secret. Sounds like somebody is trying to glorify her job.
who is charged with determining the source of a Bush administration leak
Their problem is the LEAK may not be from the Bush administration!!!!!
I agree. She witnesses a murder confession, publishes it, and then doesn't want to be bothered with revealing her written notes and being called before a grand jury. This is exactly what would be expected of anybody. Who is being lazy here?
Judith Martin deserved to go to jail. It is unfortunate, however, that the entire editorial staff of the New York Times, plus the Publisher "Punch" Sulzberger, weren't chain ganged to her and frog walked into prison with her. LOL.
Once again the press wants to be treated above "ordinary" citizens, and have special rights, not afforded "ordinary" citizens. If I was called to a grand jury, and I had information related to a crime, I would be compelled to disclose that information, or I'd be sent to jail.
My word! They are really squawking over having to toe the same line as we subjects, aren't they?
The Feds compelling an eyewitness to testify is hardly getting someone else to do their work for them.
Rot in jail!
One must not ask MSM reporters for sources. They usually don't have any credible ones.
RichInOC: Lazy press too much in love with anonymous sources for their own sake.
If this person is in such a twist about being called before a grand jury, then she wouldn't know civic duty if it bit her on the ass. She wants to write a story and then just walk away while everybody throws praise in her direction. Apparently she considers herself above being asked follow-up questions.
What's the big deal with going before a grand jury since she already went on the record with the killer's confession, unless she wasn't being entirely truthful in her article?
You made my day.......
this picture is heartwarming.