Thursday, April 28, 2005

More Plame commentary, with apologies to those who say that I am writing too much on this subject.

Joe Wilson gives an interview to Daily Kos, and makes this revelation: "As I report in the paperback version of my book-- in the stands in a couple of weeks-- the CIA itself would not let Valerie defend her honor in an op-ed that the New York Times wanted to publish." (Disclosure: Philip Turner, the editor-in-chief of Carroll & Graf, which has published Wilson's book, is a personal friend.)

The well known First Amendment attorney, Floyd Abrams, will be on Nightline tonight to discuss the Plame case, as he seeks to have the Supreme Court consider an appeal of the contempt convictions of New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper for refusing to testify to the Plame grand jury. Over the next few days, I am going to blog right here some interesting comments from my own interview with Abrams.

The special counsel in the Plame matter, Patrick Fitzgerald, has agreed not to challenge requests by Abrams and other attorneys representing Miller and Cooper to stay the jail sentences of the two reporters until the Supreme Court has the opportunity to consider their case. It is yet another example as to how Fitzgerald is not exactly the zealot that some in the media, like Jack Shafer, have attempted to potray him. (More on that later.)

In the meantime, Julie Hilden, a former associate at Williams & Connolly, who specialized in First Amendment issues, has written a couple of interesting related columns: her most recent explores whether bloggers should have the same privileges to protect confidential sources as traditional journalists. One of her earlier columns was devoted entirely to the Valerie Plame case. (Even though I link to her column, I should note that I disagree with every fiber in my body her argument that the reporters should consider identifying their sources.) Hopefully, her column will find a broader audience. Julie gave up her regular gig at Williams & Connolly to become a columnist and novelist, which begs this question: What was she thinking?

The best article on the Web-- or anywhere else for that matter-- on reporter's privilege is this one by Stephen Bates in Slate, who wrote:

"In 1848, the New York Herald's John Nugent became the first American reporter incarcerated for refusing to identify a confidential source. `I consider myself bound in honor not to answer,' Nugent declared when Senators asked him how had he got a secret draft of a treaty with Mexico. They ordered him held for contempt. Lacking a cell, the Senators' sergeant-at-arms took Nugent home with him at night and kept him in an empty committee room during the day."

Some observations: I would do virtually anything to protect a source. That includes going to jail. But if I was ordered to go home with with the senate's sergeant-at-arms and made to stay in an empty committee room during the day, I just might crack. The hearing room of the House Government Reform committee, for one, is one of the most dreary places on earth. (I have considered the committee room to be a leading candidate to be featured on my makeover pilot for C-Span.) For those sources who might fear that I might crack under the circumstances of being held in such environs, no worries: My attorneys would expeditiously appeal, and almost assuredly succeed, arguing that my incarceration certainly violated my constitutional rights to be spared "cruel and unusual punishment."

One blogger who has kind words for this column, mistakenly writes that "There is now a blog which seems to be mostly devoted to Valerie Plame news called Whatever Already!" More regular readers of this blog know that it contains media news and criticism, original foreign policy and national security reporting, and a regular essay on grocery shopping. A regular feature of this blog, Pressing Matters, a column of media criticism, is about to be simultaneously published and syndicated by a much more prestigious and well read venue than this one.

My two nephews, and niece, David, Daniel, and Jennifer, perhaps best know this blog as a place where their (favorite) uncle chastises them for not calling him enough. Now that they are teenagers, they call far less than they once have. *sad* The lives of teenagers are today are far more busy and complex than they were back in the day. My niece Jennifer has on her schedule: marching band practice, track practice, clarinet lessons, Hebrew school, an after-school science academic competition, and a leadership position in her Jewish youth group. Still, she should have enough time left over to call her uncle.

Black to Plame: one reason that I have blocked so much on the subject is that I have a major piece coming out in a new venue. I will link to the story, and comment about it here, as well. It will be appearing in what Mickey Kaus and other hipster bloggers refer to the MSM.

Not myself being a hipster blogger, the first time I read a reference by Mickey to MSM, I did not even know its meaning. At first, I thought it was a mistaken reference to MSNBC. Then I came to believe that MSM might be related to BDSM. But then again, I never have really understood what BDSM was in the first place. It was only later that I learned that MSM refers to the mainstream media.

The irony of Mickey Kaus's snide references to the MSM is that he is one of its charter members.

Dude, if you blog for, a company owned by the Washington Post, and just previously owned by Microsoft, you are part of the mainstream press. If your best friend is Michael Kinsley, you are no doubt MSM. If you have worked for Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal, you are even more so. If you have have worked for the New Republic, and still get along well with Marty Peretz, you are MSM.

If Mickey were to argue this point further, I could end the dispute once and for all with this single factoid: Dude, if Brill's Content has reported that you regularly hot tub with Maureen Dowd, you are the MSM!

For the blogger who believes that all I write about is Valerie Plame, my three readers could point out to him that I have over time devoted many, many more column inches and megabytes to teasing/ridiculing Mickey.

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