Media Blog

Winning is About Stopping Leaks

Andy McCarthy weighs in against prosecuting the NYT:

Imagine the media as the winner of a long, bitterly contentious struggle that ends in the Supreme Court. They will have succeeded in turning themselves into martyred heroes. We may, quite justifiably, view the Times and its allies in this cause as aiders and abettors of our wartime enemy. But the history — which they, primarily, will write — will portray them as Defenders of the Constitution.
More consequentially, were the press to win such a battle, it would only encourage more leaking. Now their recklessness (or worse) would bear a judicial imprimatur. Think of it as a Pulitzer Prize … but one backed by the prestige of the Supreme Court rather than the dwindling influence of journalism’s majordomos.
Let’s remember: The goal here is to stop the leaking. It is not to mount a trophy journalist on a prosecutor’s me-wall. From that practical perspective, making the reporters and their newspaper the targets of prosecution is a double failure. Not only do you probably lose the case in the long run; you also fail to get to the root of the scandal.

I agree. I would add that those calling for the prosecution of the NYT are shifting the debate in the NYT’s favor. The focus should be on this program — virtually unassailable on any legal, ethical or practical grounds — and the leakers who exposed it. That said, if the reporters who exposed this program are subpoenaed and refuse to reveal their sources, they should go to jail. When the leak is the crime, there should be no special treatment for journalists who cover up the evidence.

P.S. Even though I didn’t agree that a crime was committed in the Valerie Plame leak case, I consistently argued that Judith Miller should testify. Will Miller’s left-wing antagonists show the same consistency if this leak case is brought to court?

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