Advance Indiana thinks Rep. Mike Pence is being a hypocrite (and an overly partisan one at that) because he says the journalists' shield law he and Sen. Richard Lugar are sponsoring would have covered journalists in the Valerie Plame case but not journalists in the CIA black-site prison story. But Pence makes a valid point that there is a difference in a leak that involves “real time” classified information that poses an “imminent threat” (the prison story) and a leak that involved a CIA employee who wasn't really covert and not in any danger from being "outed." Prosecutor Fitzgerald's own actions and words lend credence to this distinction -- the only crime alleged was for lies told during the investigation and had nothing to do with the original outing charge.The real problems with the proposed shield law are:
1. It very narrowly defines a "journalist" at a time when the number of people engaged in that endeavor is expanding rapidly. Something I write in this blog would be covered under the law because I am doing it under the umbrella of a historically accepted form of the press, i.e., newspapers, TV news operations, public-relations outfits. Something posted on Fort Wayne Observed or Indiana Parley, because they are done merely by ordinary citizens acting on their own, would not be.
2. It is contradictory that a free and independent press, which is supposed to be the "watchdog of the government," would be, in effect, licensed by that government.
3. In a time when the media are distrusted, if not downright reviled, I don't know how smart it is for people in the media to be out there lobbying for privileges that would further set them apart from everybody else.
The First Amendment was not drafted for the benefit of an elite few; it was meant to protect the rights of all Americans to express themselves in a robust, cantankerous exchange of opinions. In case you hadn't noticed, "the press" is rapidly becoming "the people."
(Link via Indiana Blog Review)