By Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 7/3/2005 8:00:00 PM
Justices Refuse Sources' Confidentiality
Reporters are facing swift fallout from the Supreme Court's June 27 refusal to hear the appeals of two journalists who face jail time for withholding sources' identities from criminal investigators.
One day after the high court refused to take the case, ABC reporter Pierre Thomas and print reporters from AP, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times were ordered in a separate case by a federal appeals court to divulge identities of sources on stories about Los Alamos laboratory scientist Wen Ho Lee.
That court order was handed down after Time magazine's Matt Cooper and The New York Times' Judith Miller were refused Supreme Court appeals of the convictions for not divulging who leaked the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame. Cooper and Miller were given until July 1 to comply or be incarcerated.
Time on June 30 reluctantly agreed to turn over subpoenaed information. “The same Constitution that protects the freedom of the press requires obedience to final decisions of the courts,” Time explained. “That Time Inc. strongly disagrees with the courts provides no immunity.”
New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger said he was “deeply disappointed” by the magazine's decision. Miller still refuses to reveal her sources, but her lawyer speculated that Time's decision could render her testimony moot.
The mounting threats to reporters prodded Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) to renew his call for a federal shield law that would give reporters the right to protect their sources. Pence said, “The inevitable spectacle of American reporters being walked into prison makes a powerful case for a federal media-shield law.”
CPB Bias Inquiry Went Beyond Moyers
A controversial analysis of bias in public broadcasting was “a little nutty” and a “complete waste” of $14,170 in taxpayer funds, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) declared after reviewing 58 pages of raw data from the study commissioned by Corporation for Public Broadcasting Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson. “It appears to have been cobbled together by an armchair analyst with little or no professional preparation,” Dorgan said at a press conference last week.
Dorgan also used the occasion to ask the inspector general to investigate whether the hiring of CPB President Pamela Harrison, a former GOP party chairman, followed appropriate procedures.
Harrison's hiring is one more example “that Mr. Tomlinson is taking the CPB down a very dangerous path that harms public broadcasting rather than strengthens it,” Dorgan said.
An investigation into the bias study is already underway.
The typo-riddled reports prepared by Republican operative Fred Mann included a note labeled “From the desk of Fred Mann,” and another was faxed to CPB from a Hallmark store in Indianapolis.
The intent of the analysis was to gauge the political opinions expressed by guests of Now with Bill Moyers, NPR's Diane Rehm and TV host Tavis Smiley. The analysis makes clear that Tomlinson's controversial search for liberal bias in public broadcasting extended beyond his well-publicized concerns about Now.
Dorgan derided the criteria used to rate opinions as “utter nonsense.” He noted that Republican Sen. Chuck Hegel of Nebraska was rated as “liberal” for opposing the Iraq war during an appearance on Smiley's show.
“Mr. Tomlinson used poor judgment and wasted tax dollars to pin labels that are both unwarranted and often inaccurate on respected and independent journalists, commentators, observers and private citizens,” Dorgan said.
On his own appearance on Rehm's show several weeks ago, Tomlinson did not volunteer that the study went beyond Bill Moyers. Tomlinson's desire for more conservative programming on noncommercial public TV and radio was the topic of conversation.
A CPB spokesman said the organization won't comment on the study until an inspector general completes an investigation.
No related content found.
No Top Articles