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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 11, 2005 / 4 Taamuz, 5765

Reporters aren't above the law

By Michael Kinsley


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | When Robert D. Novak first reported that people in the Bush White House had identified Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA operative, the New York Times reacted with high dudgeon. Plame is married to Joseph Wilson, a former State Department official who went to Niger in search of evidence of Iraq's effort to assemble weapons of mass destruction. He then wrote (in the Times) that he couldn't find much, and outing Wilson's wife appeared to be the Bush administration's revenge.

The New York Times editorialized: "If someone at the White House . . . revealed the name of a CIA operative to . . . stifle dissent over Iraq policy, that in itself would be a serious assault on free speech and an egregious abuse of power." It called Bush's "blanket denial" a "cover-up." It looks as if what the Times found so alarming is exactly what happened. The cover-up is crumbling. Wrongdoers may be exposed and punished. All no thanks to the New York Times.

The noble principle for which Times reporter Judith Miller sits in jail is the right of journalists to participate in efforts to stifle dissent, censor free speech, abuse power and then cover it all up. No? Well, not exactly. Secret sources can be whistle-blowers themselves, helping anonymously to expose corruption. That is why journalists say that anonymous sources are essential to freedom and democracy. But that is not the current case, and it may not even be the case most of the time.

In a ringing and utterly uncompromising editorial Friday, the New York Times noted correctly that even its earlier editorials about the need to expose and punish "an egregious abuse of power" had warned against any "attempt to compel journalists to reveal their sources." But these directives are irreconcilable. The "egregious abuse of power" was leaking secret information to journalists. The leaker has a Fifth Amendment right not to testify. If journalists have a First Amendment right not to testify, then the "egregious abuse of power" cannot be exposed or punished.

This isn't about the press's right to publish information. It is about a right to keep information secret. Even the Times acknowledges that sometimes the government's right to secrecy is more important (wartime troop movements is its single, melodramatic example). And even the federal government recognizes the social utility of a vigorous press — going out of its way to avoid demanding trial evidence from journalists in most circumstances. From this, it is easy enough to imagine a compromise, ideally reflected in a journalistic shield law like that in most states.

One problem in getting from here to such a compromise was that Judith Miller, Matt Cooper and the others were being asked to break promises of confidentiality they had already made. That is hard. If journalists routinely make such promises and routinely are forced to break them, this will indeed create a general "chilling effect" on leaks.

But the real issue is whether the promises should have been made. Under a clear set of rules, the "chilling effect" would be limited — not perfectly, but primarily — to leaks that ought to be chilled and to promises of anonymity that should not be made.

A bigger problem is that no reasonable compromise would give journalists victory in the current dispute, in which the leak is not just evidence of a crime but the crime itself. Some journalistic voices (for example, The Post's editorial page) have decided the crime at issue isn't so egregious after all. The law against outing CIA agents is tricky, and the outing of Valerie Plame may not have broken it. This would be convenient, but it comes closer to illustrating than obviating the dilemma. Maybe, in any given case, no law has been broken, or the broken law isn't important, or there are other equally good ways to enforce it, or giving journalists immunity merely makes enforcing the law difficult rather than impossible. But what if not?

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The biggest problem in the way of a compromise is that journalists who share the philosophy of the Times assert the right to decide unilaterally. Even if they acknowledge the possibility that their needs don't always trump everybody else's, they insist that their judgment does trump everybody else's.

Norman Pearlstine, editor in chief of Time Inc. magazines, made the essential point in agreeing to turn over Cooper's notes after the Supreme Court declined to review the case. He noted that even Richard Nixon, who claimed a constitutional right to protect the Watergate tapes, turned them over when the high court said he had to.

The Times's Thursday editorial asserts that this is a matter of "civil disobedience." In societies that are not democracies or lack a legitimate judicial system, nonviolent civil disobedience is an admirably restrained method of attempting political change. In societies where laws are democratically enacted and fairly enforced, for the most part, purposely breaking them needs to be justified by some enormous injustice.

The New York Times is an influential newspaper owned by a large corporation. It is claiming an exemption from one of the duties of citizenship. It has hired some of America's best lawyers to pursue this claim. And then, when the claim has been rejected, it encourages its employees to defy the courts and break the law. If that is civil disobedience, then almost any law anyone does not care for is up for grabs.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Michael Kinsley is Los Angeles Times Editorial and Opinion editor and former editor of Slate.com. Comment by clicking here.



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© 2005 Los Angeles Times Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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