Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Contempt for the Press?

The privilege of the press not to reveal a source has been a problem lately, but this time the issue is a bit different.  On one hand sources reveal information to the press because of this privilege, and the first amendment is therefore fostered.  On the other hand the government may want the source of the information in order to pursue a thorough investigation. Usually the first amendment wins. 

But what happens when the press say they are keeping a source confidential because the source does not want their name divulged, and the source comes forward and says that they agreed to have their name divulged.  Who do you believe? In this case your choices are a reporter or a lawyer.

Recently, the NYTimes in an article titled,  "TV Reporter Facing Jail Says Source Rejected Plea to Come Forward," tells about the problems facing Jim Taricani, a reporter in Providence who obtained a videotape and refused to disclose the source.  He was sentenced to six months in jail for contempt.  But then a lawyer comes forward, the lawyer representing a party in a corruption investigation and he says he gave the videotape to the reporter and according to the NYTimes he says that, "he had not requested confidentiality."

HUM- My vote is to call this one a wash.  The government has its information, the reporter didn't have to reveal it, and who really cares who lied.  Maybe it was just a big misunderstanding.



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