Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Just What I Asked For, But Not What I Wanted

An editorial in today's Wall Street Journal (available at Opinion Journal here, registration required), quotes the New York Times from December 31, 2003:

"After an egregiously long delay, Attorney General John Ashcroft finally did the right thing yesterday when he recused himself from the investigation into who gave the name of a CIA operative to the columnist Robert Novak. Mr. Ashcroft turned the inquiry over to his deputy, who quickly appointed a special counsel."

In the recent annals of press freedom, there are few more regrettable sentences than those two from a December 31, 2003, editorial in the New York Times. The special counsel that the Times was cheering on, Patrick Fitzgerald, is now threatening a Times reporter with jail, and in a way that jeopardizes the entire press corps.

The Times, along with almost the entire MSM, clamored for two months for that special prosecutor. They crowed when law and order hardliner Patrick Fitzgerald was announced. And since, they've been waiting, slavering, drooling, for the indictment of whatever White House rapscallion is ultimately responsible for exposing Joe Wilson's wife as an undercover CIA agent.

What they've done here, in gaining what will ultimately be an unfulfilling and pyrrhic victory, is invite upon themselves the most devastating attack on the confidentiality of sources in the American history.

You need to read the editorial in full to understand it (and while you're at it, try this for additional background), but unless they testify under Fitzgerald's subpoena, or the Supreme Court overturns the D.C. Circuit, Times reporter Judith Miller and TIME Magazine's Matthew Cooper are going to jail.

The NYT and TIME are going to fight for their writers' right to protect sources, as they rightly should, but why has it come to this?

Because the New York Times, and its liberal, establishment media brethren, decided on December 31, 2003, that the Justice Department exposing the leak was more important than a conservative columnist protecting his source.

Because conservative columnists are expendable!

And now that it's less important to protect sources, the serpent the Times let loose has come back to bite them.

Poetic is what it is.