One of the memes coming out of the Libby trial is that the press has been harmed. The New York Times argues the point:
“After Mr. Libby’s conviction Tuesday, it is possible to start assessing that damage to the legal protections available to the news organizations, to relationships between journalists and their sources and to the informal but longstanding understanding in Washington, now shattered, that leak investigations should be pressed only so hard.
“Ten out of 19 of the witnesses in Mr. Libby’s trial were journalists, a spectacle that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.”
I disagree. I know a lot of conservatives are making the very same argument (in a passive aggressive sort of serves-you-right way), but I think it is wrong: The press will come out swinging and defend its rights in the future, the Libby trial notwithstanding. It was willing to allow itself to be used in the Libby case because it considered the leak in question a “bad leak” (i.e., a leak designed to help the Bush administration).
It’s interesting that juror Denis Collins – who has now put his courtroom notes on the Huffington Post! – seemed quite star struck by the media, despite his having been a Washington Post reporter:
“As celebrities go, the jury favorite seems to be NPR?s Nina Totenberg. Everyday Nina. She raises the class quotient considerably. My favorite court visitor was an old Post friend, Mike Isikoff of Newsweek (President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky may still have nightmares of him sneaking into their closet.) Many years ago in San Francisco, he stayed with us while reporting on drug policy for the Post. Driving back from an interview with a marijuana grower in Humboldt County, he told us he stopped to check his suitcase. Sure enough, the grower had “gifted” him a bag of Humboldt Lightning. Isikoff immediately returned it.
“I said, “Damn, Mike, couldn’t you have waited til you got back here to look?”
As Dorothy Parker said in a different context: Tonstant wreader throwed up.
[By the way, I wondered if his new visibility would affect the Amazon rating (sort of Dunn & Bradstreet for us hacks)- it did. His book was around 34,000 – abysmal! – when he started speaking for the jury; it fell to around 12,000 and is now inching up again. (Lower is better.) So the visibility didn’t help that much. Maybe he’ll become a regular on Huffington Post?]
It’s interesting that one juror wants the president to pardon Libby- she’s right but for the wrong reasons. She assumes that a crime was committed and that higher ups in the Bush administration, not Mr. Libby, should pay. If a crime had been committed, believe me you, the prosecutor would have brought charges.
(I do want to add that Time mag’s Matt Cooper did try to do right by his sources, even though they were Republicans. Ditto Judy Miller, though there was an element of grandstanding in her going to jail, even after she had Libby’s waiver saying that she could talk.)