Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Hope She Looks Good in Prison Orange

I usually write about running (or the lack thereof) and, every once and again, on my somewhat peripatetic personal life. Hardly ever about my profession.
But I've just got to say, regarding the recent ruling to jail New York Times reporter Judy Miller: WTF?!!!
Not that she's an angel. By no means. But jailing the woman?!
Why the hell is Robert Novak still walking the streets?! He's the one that divulged CIA Operative Valerie Plame's identity in a newspaper column, which is what the brouhaha is all about: Which Bush Administration official(s) leaked her name? Karl Rove, that altar boy, said he didn't do it. Uh-uh, not him. No sirree, Bob.
Miller never even wrote a story, just did some reporting on the White House leak. And Matt Cooper - who joked about being in contempt of court over the leak at a Press Club social event I attended in February - was given a 13th hour reprieve by his confidential source, who called him and said, go ahead, give 'em my name. He was thisclose to going to the clinker.
If you can't laugh ... : Anyway, the Hartford Courant columnist Jim Shea wrote a very funny column today about why it's not a good idea to jail print reporters. I actually laughed out loud, as it is so true. The broadcast reporter is of an entirely breed altogether (needed accoutrements: extra-hold hair spray and a dictionary to look up words of more than two syllables).
Here are a couple of excerpts from Shea's 8-point treatise, titled, "Can Prisons Survive Reporters?"
Reporters would not set a good example when it comes to following directions. You can't just tell them what to do. To get a reporter to do anything, a guard would have to: ask nicely; explain the order in detail; debate at length whether the reporter has a better approach; and then begin the process anew after the reporter failed to do what had been agreed upon.
And this:
Grousing: As a group, reporters are among the finest, most accomplished complainers in the world. In fact, I don't believe there is a documented case in which a reporter has ever been even remotely happy with anything.

Schmoozing: If jailed, a reporter will take only a few days to get to know all the other prisoners, and the guards, and their families, and the warden's secretary, and the parole board, and many, many new anonymous sources. Can you say five-part series?

For Miller: Can you say book deal?!


  1. Novak is a very conservative writer, a friend of the Bush admin. Names of CIA operatives are of national security importance. Divulging their names is a felony.

    Only in the interest of national security should the press be required to divulge sources.

    I recall the true reporters being exceptionally skilled at finding the buffet table before their colleagues at any scheduled (and catered) media event.

  2. You've got us pegged. Technically, we're not supposed to accept anything from sources. But smart PR flacks know that to get reporters to an early-morning briefing (before 10 am for us), they should lay out hot coffee and and a tray of doughnuts. Even our editors can't begrudge us that. And yes, we have terrible diets.

  3. I read that Shea column--hilarious!

    "Unnamed sources" say that Novak has already cooperated. Prosecutor (whathisname? Flanagan? something Irish) just now needs corroboration, goes one version of the Novak story.

    I have one word to say about the whole enbroglio:
    "The Pentagon Papers"

  4. which is actually spelled "embroglio."

  5. yep, I held a press pass for about 5 years and would occasionally shoulder my way through the vets to see if anything good was left.

  6. I have the feeling its not what you know, but who you know. Crossing the current regime will land you in jail at the first opportunity. Towing the line will keep you out just as often.