Patterico's Pontifications

7/8/2005

The Power of the Jump™: Those Non-Confidential Confidential Sources

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:36 am



(Note: “The Power of the Jump”™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, documenting examples of the Los Angeles Times’s use of its back pages to hide information that its editors don’t want you to see.)

Yesterday’s L.A. Times story on the jailing of Judith Miller portrayed the issue on the front page as a “test of press freedoms,” and said:

U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ordered Judith Miller, 57, imprisoned until she agreed to testify in an investigation into the naming of a CIA operative, declaring that the rights of journalists to gather news and protect confidential sources must occasionally yield to the power of prosecutors to demand testimony and investigate suspected crimes.

The article took until page A18, and the 25th paragraph, to tell us that Miller’s source

has given a general waiver permitting Miller to testify; the journalist has said she does not believe the waiver was signed voluntarily.

When considering whether Miller is a martyr for the protection of sources, isn’t it particularly relevant that the source has signed something saying the source doesn’t need protection?

People can debate whether Miller should have been jailed. But let’s not pretend that this is a black-and-white case where a journalist is protecting a source who clearly wishes to remain confidential, as the L.A. Times implies on page A1.

6 Responses to “The Power of the Jump™: Those Non-Confidential Confidential Sources”

  1. I don’t buy it, Patterico. If the source wants to free her from her specific agreement, he or she knows how to pick up the phone. The source would have contacted her or her editors by now to save her from jail. I think it is clear the source doesn’t want to be revealed.

    steve M. (107ded)

  2. I don’t buy it, Patterico. If the source wants to free her from her specific agreement, he or she knows how to pick up the phone. The source would have contacted her or her editors by now to save her from jail. I think it is clear the source doesn’t want to be revealed.

    I am not expressing an opinion on whether Miller is right. I’m just saying that, if there is a written release, I don’t think it’s clear. And I think the information should have been put higher in the story.

    You seem to be asserting that Miller affirmatively claims her source hasn’t released her other than by the written document. I haven’t heard that. It could be that there is detail about this that has been reported that I haven’t heard about; I haven’t followed it very closely. But if there is publicly available information that contradicts the prosecutor’s statement that Miller’s source released her, other than just her assertion that she feels it wasn’t voluntary, then that should have been reported too.

    Maybe he hasn’t phoned her because he feels a written waiver is enough, or even better.

    I’d just like to see this be a more prominent part of the story. As it is, the implication on the front page is that the source is clearly, 100% confidential.

    Patterico (342a82)

  3. It seems clear to me. If the source wanted to come out, Scooter the source would have done so already.

    I’m with Steve on this one.

    Paul Deignan (664c74)

  4. If the written waiver wasn’t signed voluntarily, then those seeking the testimony procured it and already knew who the source is. So Steve’s suggestion that the source still wants to be confidential makes no sense.

    The source’s signing of a waiver, even “involuntarily”, also destroys the new “theory” that the source (Rove) already testified and lied that he or she (Rove) is the source and they need Miller’s testimony to prove it. The waiver would be enough to prove that.

    If I were the MSM, my headline would read “Source signs waiver” Para one would read “Miller suggests that prosecutor obtained waiver directly from source but jailed her anyway.”

    This is so obvious to me that either I am missing something or those still accusing Rove are being purposely obtuse.

    Justene (9bc03e)

  5. If Miller thinks the source signed the waiver involuntarily, the source is not Rove. Really, who is going to force Rove to sign anything against his will?

    Paul Deignan (664c74)

  6. I was interpreting “general waiver” to mean a boilerplate form that was handed to every person who might be the source of the leak. The idea being that if you refuse to sign, you become an immediate suspect. I didn’t read it as the form being handed to just one person because they already knew who it was. I don’t know for sure which way it happened.

    It doesn’t seem to make sense for it to be Rove in both cases — why would he save one reporter with a direct message and not another?

    steve M. (f7ceed)


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