A fascinating article in Business Week about the future of the New York Times contains the following blind egotism by publisher (that's newspaper parlance for "owner") Arthur Sulzberger Jr.:

The Times also is under attack from another branch of the federal government -- the judiciary. The paper figures centrally in most of a half-dozen pending court cases that collectively pose a dire threat to the traditional journalistic practice of assuring confidentiality to whistle-blowers and other informants. In October, a federal judge ordered Judith Miller of the Times imprisoned for up to 18 months for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the leaking of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to conservative columnist Robert Novak. Miller, who researched the Plame affair but never wrote about it, remains free pending a review by the federal Court of Appeals in Washington.

Sulzberger, who spent six years as a reporter, is outraged that journalists are being slapped with contempt charges for refusing to yield confidential sources to prosecutors. "Reporters are going to jail for doing their jobs, and that's just wrong," he says.

Also going to jail for "doing their jobs": terrorists, thieves, spies, and so forth. Oh but reporters are magical and special and shouldn't have to obey the same laws as the rest of us, like answering questions by a grand jury. After all, their pay checks are signed by Arthur Sulzberger Jr.!

(Plus, it's disingenuous of Business Week to characterize these charges as an attack by the judiciary. It's the executive branch that's prosecuting the cases in federal court; the judges are just following the laws laid out by Congress (one hopes), which contain no special rights for self-designated "journalists".)

(HT: Glenn Reynolds.)



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