On leakers and the MSM

"Every journalist who is not too stupid or full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.

--Janet Malcolm, The Journalist and the Murderer, 1990"

AJ Strata is drumming up support to possible throw a little class action on the MSM because of all the recent "leak reporting", specifically by papers such as the NY Times and Washington Post.

AJ writes:

"A while ago someone suggested a way for ‘We The People’ to fight back as these treasonous liberals expose us to attack. The idea was to bring a class action law suit against the media outlets who recklessly expose our defense mechanisms to our enemies.

We don’t need to win, as much as get millions and millions of people signing up against the New York Times, Washington Post, the reporters themselves. In my opinion these companies are impairing my civil rights by exposing me and my familiy to terrorist acts. I have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and the partisan actions of these leakers is putting all of this at risk.

These are not whistleblowers, they never show a single instance of wrong doing - just theories and conjecture. Their motivations are purely partisan politics.

Time for us to remind everyone the power is in the people. So if anyone knows how to start a law suit against these people please let us all know."

Suing the press - I like it, and it's not without precedent as any search of civil law cases will show, howbeit this would be a first on such a large scale.

Well it's been coming for a while.

The fact is that we are quickly running into a "civil war" of sorts between good effective journalism and political agendaism. Between the "freedom of the press" and "outright journalistic tyranny". of which in my opinion Edward R. Murrow cast the mold.

However, just as the sun rises in the east there have always been partisan reporters who worked with their own partisan editors on the left and right, and papers like the LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post have been and still are the primary "papers of the left". They have been for years.

Yet while as a conservative writer I have my fun with their reporting as a whole from time to time, I found absolutely vile the blatant reporting of classified and still operative information for apparently - at least in the case James Risen of the NY Times - no other reason than to make a buck.

Had the NY Times posted article number one as an excerpt to an upcoming book by Mr. Risen with the standard "Excerpt one of ___", at least it would have been intellectually honest. Perhaps the Times forgot that honesty is one of the five pillars of journalism. Fact is that Mr. Risen's initial and subsequent 'articles' have been nothing more than ill researched and uninformed partisan cheap shots taken at the President of the United States in a time of war for no other reason than to get Mr. Risen's political agenda across - and of course to sell a lot of books.

Nothing more and nothing less.

Which brings me back to AJ's idea. I believe a far more effective and a greater effort I think would be to file the class action against Mr. Risen himself as no doubt the Editors at the NY Times would immediately send him to pasture just as they did Judy Miller. Fact is that he would be quite on his own. Further it would be hard for him to defend his position with the standard "freedom of the press", as he is profiting from the freedom. Perhaps boycotts of any booksellers that peddle his book would send a message as well.

This brings me to a larger point. I believe that the age of "unaccountable" reporting may be coming to an end. The agenda manufactured and partisan media driven Plame Game will go down in the annals of history as journalism's 'Waterloo". The jailing of Judith Miller - not a isolated incident as journalist are jailed all the time for failure to identify sources - has become the new "plumline". Watch as see as these leak cases go forward as both writer and editors witness the prosecution.

Moreover, remember that today's modern monolith mass media outlets are "profit driven", and 2005 was not a banner year as all major newspapers as well as MSM TV outlets saw cutbacks, layoffs and scandals of their own.

I don't think this is was just a "bad year" or that the problem is isolated - I think the public by and large is on to their 'game' and quite frankly fed up.

The fact is that we do need a free press and I want a free press, but with freedom comes responsibility. I know a lot of secrets from my former occupation - many of which are still classified, some of which could still get people hung. Yet I don't need to tell them in order for the society to be "open".

From my one of my journalism professors of long ago on what to ask when deciding to do a story:

1. Is it true?

2. Is it important?

3. Do we really need to know - now?

I don't think Mr. Risen bothered to ask.