Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Pleading the First

La mère de la blogstress always contended that momentous things happen in threes. Accepting this axiom, your cybertrix deduces that, over the course of the last 24 hours, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is having a very big day.

Let's begin with the jailing of Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who has refused to give up the anonymous source who told her that a certain ambassador's wife was a CIA agent. Note that Miller never wrote about it, and that although at least one of her colleagues, Matt Cooper of Time, already gave up his source. Miller is clearly being made an example of. Anybody sense a chill in the air?

Today also brought the news that L. Patrick Gray, otherwise known as Deep Throat's boss at the FBI, died yesterday at the age of 88. It's as if the good Lord kept him around just long enough to express (to ABC News) his shock that his trusted deputy had betrayed him to Bob Woodward of The Washington Post.

And speaking of Mr. Woodward, Michiko Kakutani today gives a good bit of real estate--if not generosity of spirit--to the former's new book about his relationship with W. Mark Felt (a.k.a., Deep Throat). Seizing the opportunity to make a larger point, Ms. Kakutani uses her review to stress the importance of anonymous sources, and to remark upon the targeting of Judith Miller:

Today, in a climate where the public has a deepening distrust of the press - in part because of self-inflicted wounds, in part because of efforts on the part of the Bush administration and ideological partisans to discredit the news media - more and more reporters are being threatened with jail if they do not reveal their confidential sources. Just last week, after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal, Time magazine gave in to demands of federal prosecutors to turn over documents concerning a reporter's confidential sources.

And this is just the beginning, mes amis--just the very beginning.

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