Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A reporter-source privilege

Ted Olson (subscription only) urges the Supreme Court to review the case of reporters held in contempt for refusing to reveal their sources in the Valerie Plame case. He says, "A free and energetic press has proven to be among our most precious resources." What bothers me more than confidential sources is the monolithic nature of the mainstream mass media today. They all take their cues from the NYTimes and print stories from a few selected press services. The only actual journalism being done is by the correspondents of a few institutions and local reporters of local papers and TV stations.

Personally, I don't think that any privileges, doctor-patient, marital, or priest-penitent make much real sense. I don't think such people should be obligated to run to the police, but once the person has become a suspect, I think they ought to tell the police what they know to the extent that it relates to the crime alleged. If a person is accused of theft, his doctor shouldn't be obligated to disclose his/her history of STDs, for example.


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