Thursday, February 17, 2005

Courts slam journalists

Letter to the LA Times

Dear Editor,
I am an avid supporter of free press and was appalled to read of Judge Quarles’ decision to uphold a ban on free press in Baltimore. Any government of the people should always be accountable to the press. I will hope to find the Quarles ruling unconstitutional. Despite this offense however, I cannot object to the DC Court of Appeals’ 3-0 ruling against Cooper and Miller. Your article of Feb. 16, 2005 by Savage and Rainey asserts that the right to refuse to testify is a First Amendment right. I would argue that freedom of the press does not include freedom from justice. In the case of the CIA leak, these reporters allegedly assisted in a felony act and are shielding those who should be prosecuted for it. Where journalistic confidentiality is concerned, there is a difference between protecting whistleblowers and obstructing justice. The judicial sanctions against reporters cited by your article are justified because the reporters themselves have overstepped the bounds of law and journalistic integrity. Bogus allegations of espionage against Wen Ho Lee should never have been reported and he is justified in seeking damages. We should be gravely concerned by reporters who aid in character assassinations before trial, especially when there is no criminal wrongdoing, except for the leak itself in which the reporter took part. While banning reporter access is wrong and should be overturned, we should thank the courts for enforcing some degree of ethics in the field of journalism because it’s increasingly apparent that news media is incapable of policing itself.


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