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WaPo Misses Point Again


By David Swanson

A Washington Post editorial today completely misses the distinction that much of the public understands and cares passionately about, the distinction between someone telling reporters information to expose crimes and doing so at risk to their own careers (even if they have other motives like petty rivalries or dislike of the criminals), and - on the other hand - telling reporters information in order to punish whistleblowers for exposing the rationales for crimes as a pack of lies. You cannot use the same "principle" to protect whistleblowers AND to protect the criminals and their acts of retribution against whistleblowers...unless you're the Washington Post, which wrote:

"Many of those who condemn Mr. Woodward applauded when The Post recently revealed the existence of CIA prisons around the world, a story that relied on unnamed sources. Is there a distinction to be made based on the motives of the leakers? If so, Mr. Woodward might have had to pass up his first big scoops three decades ago, because his Watergate source, Deep Throat -- recently revealed as FBI official W. Mark Felt -- was disgruntled at having been passed over for the post of FBI director. Newspapers face difficult questions all the time in evaluating the reliability of sources and the appropriateness of publishing their secrets. But if potential sources come to believe that they cannot count on promises of confidentiality, more than the media will suffer."

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You bring up a very important point,but I would take exception that " much of the public understands and cares passionately about...(it)".

On the contrary,I would suggest the majority, however resignedly, accepts the MSM standard assertions on the subject;i.e., that they have an irreproachable and inflexible obligation to maintain the anonymity of sources under any and all circumstances.

As you point out, nothing could be further from the truth.

A journalist must see themselves as obliged to weigh the source's motivations against the news-worthiness of the publicized information.

A judgement in retrospect should generally be easy to make with appropriate acuity.

The fundamental question they must ask themselves is: Am I being used as a conduit to the exposing of a crime, or as means of commission of a crime?

If the answer is the former,it must be taken to nullify and supercede any agreement of secrecy.

Case in point:

http://www.smallgov.org/?p=107

---The Bikemessenger

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