Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Keeping the Lights Off

Although I agree with Glenn Greenwald here, I think there's something besides a general media-government camradarie that explains the ambivalence about, if not outright objection to, the trial and conviction of Scooter Libby among media people, like the "liberal" Wash Post columnist, Richard Cohen.

Mainly, as Cohen alludes to, the positive vibe towards Libby by even "liberal" media people stems from Fitzpatrick's jailing, and threats to jail, their fellow media buddies:

The special counsel used the immense power of the government to jail Judith Miller and to compel other journalists, including Time's Matt Cooper, to suspend their various and sacred vows of silence just so they could, understandably, avoid jail.

This is the gut of the whole thing: Fitzpatrick didn't play by the rules when he ignored the media's "sacred vows of silence" in dealing with sources, like special, high-up government people. And this Fitzpatrick fellow, runaway train driver, put one of their own in jail and threatened another fellow journalist with jail. This is the crux of the matter, why "journalists" like Cohen are giving Libby a pass and in doing so, demonstrate their hostility for Fitzpatrick.

But let's continue:

For some odd reason, the same people who were so appalled about government snooping, the USA Patriot Act and other such threats to civil liberties cheered as the special prosecutor weed-whacked the press, jailed a reporter and now will send a previously obscure government official to prison for 30 months.

And finally:

Accountability is one thing. By all means, let Congress investigate and conduct oversight hearings with relish and abandon. But a prosecution is a different matter. It entails the government at its most coercive -- a power so immense and sometimes so secretive that it poses much more of a threat to civil liberties, including freedom of the press, than anything in the interstices of the scary Patriot Act. The mere arrival of a form letter from the IRS will give any sane person a touch of angina.

So there you have it. Maybe this helps answer Digby's question.

1 comment:

Tom Hilton said...

Excellent post. I had a similar reaction. For Cohen, it really is all about what happens to People Like Him.