The Fifth Horseman: Bye Bye Accountability...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

 

Bye Bye Accountability...

http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/07/06/reporters.contempt/index.html
They did it. They convicted her.

I can't say I'm surprised. This is just another symptom of the slow, painful demise of real, principled journalism.

It's fitting that Mark Felt has finally revealed his identity as Deep Throat at this time in our nation's history. I had hoped that he would serve as a reminder to the judge of the benefits of investigative journalism and the moral rightness of the journalistic code of honor that Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward adhered to in protecting the identiy of Mr. Felt for over thirty years. The same code of honor that Judith Miller was following by protecting her source. The same code of honor that is earning her jail time.

Now tenth grade Civics class wasn't that long ago for me, so I remember a few things. One of the things I remember is the role of the media in American democracy. In an ideal world, the media would serve and another sourt of "check and balance", working as a sort of moral watchdog by checking government corruption and wrongdoing through principled, investigative reporting. Carl Bernstien and Bob Woodward adhered to this ideal when they revealed the prevalent criminality of the Watergate-era Nixon Administration.

Sadly, thanks to this ruling, this would not have been possible today. If Watergate happened right now, chances are the Nixon would have gotten off scotch-free. Why? Because, thanks to this ruling, Mark Felt would not have been able to blow the whistle on Nixon without putting his career in dire danger.

Without the guaranteed protection of anonymity, would-be whistle blowers will be increasingly reluctant to risk their careers and security to do the right thing.

In a nutshell, by handing down this ruling, our honorable judge has handed George W. Bush and corrupt politicians everywhere a Get Out of Jail Free card.

Bye bye, accountability.
Adios, principled journalism.
Helloooooo, Fox News.

-Martin

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