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D.C. Confidential

In today's Washington Post op-ed page, David Ignatius bemoans the poor choice of making a stand for confidential sources in the Plame fight and endorses a federal shield law for members of the media.

His piece is solid, noting that source-journalist privilege has always been about a balancing test -- would releasing a given source's identity serve the public interest? And in conclusion, he calls for journalists to show discretion about when they're going to pick their fights over anonymous sources and journalistic privilege.

But I would go one further: Journalists need to re-evaluate the extension of anonymity to sources. Should anonymity be extended to a government spokesperson? To a group of generals giving a briefing on the upcoming year's defense appropriations? To a political operative who is smearing the other campaign? To a whistleblower? To a whistleblower who just wants revenge for not being promoted?

The question for journalists is not merely whether to defend the privilege, but also whether that privilege should be invoked in the first place.


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Comments (6)

Judging fromm the obsolete ... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

Judging fromm the obsolete press performance for the last several years they do evaluate the importance of the story before using confidential sources. Rathergate, the Plame Blame Game, and all the other instances of attacks on the right show that they decide if there's a chance it'll hurt the right it qualifies. Just one of the many reasons nobody but the left believes them. The reason they are obsolete.

So how do we tell an annony... (Below threshold)
Billll:

So how do we tell an annonymous source from an imaginary one?

Billl, even the most season... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

Billl, even the most seasoned broadcaster has trouble with this one, just ask Dan Rather.

And how do we tell a journa... (Below threshold)
jmaster:

And how do we tell a journalist from a blogger?

Bloggers admit their mistak... (Below threshold)

Bloggers admit their mistakes on the front page.

In fact, if there were absolutely going to have to be a bloggers' code of ethics, it should consist of only that one rule.

OK, I’m pretty much with yo... (Below threshold)
jmaster:

OK, I’m pretty much with you on that one, McGehee.

But that eliminates people like Kos and Paul.

So should they just not be protected?




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