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WASHINGTON WATCH

7/01/2005 08:00:00 PM Eastern

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.

 

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