Columbia Journalism Review offers a better argument…

But still not good enough. Douglas McCollam asks, as others have, “How can it be that a reporter [Judith Miller} who never even wrote a story about [Valerie] Plame is in the cooler, while the prime instigator [Robert Novak?] is free to enjoy his martinis and prime rib?” It seems that Miller, villified by liberals for her coverage of nonexistent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and having served as a conduit for Chalabi’s claims about those weapons, never wrote a story outing Valerie Plame. It was Robert Novak who released her name.

McCollam partially answers his own question: “Law isn’t generally about equitable outcomes; it’s about enforcing the rules even if the outcome appears unjust.” The rest of that answer is that protecting sources is supposed to be a way to expose government wrongdoing. It is not supposed to be a way of participating in wrongdoing. Releasing Valerie Plame’s name did not expose government wrongdoing but was an act of wrongdoing in and of itself. If there was a whistleblower in this case, it was Plame’s husband, who criticized Bush administration propaganda–demonstrated to have no foundation whatsoever–on claimed Iraqi purchases of uranium in Niger. It is thus the husband, and by extension, his wife, who deserve protection in this case, not the Bush administration hack seeking retribution when, as has happened so often with this admininstration, the facts on the ground simply didn’t match Bush administration ideology. Yet it is that hack–possibly Karl Rove–whom journalists now rush to protect.

Would they be so anxious to protect this source if it were in a Democratic administration?

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