Glenn Reynolds gets a “Best of the Blogs” on PJM this morning for an important and lengthy (for him) post on the growing conflict between the administration and the press over security leaks. I couldn’t be more with Glenn on this one when he writes: The tendency of the press to conflate its own desire for guild-like special privileges with the protections of the First Amendment is one of the reasons for its decline in trust and popularity.
It’s no surprise the Fourth Estate elevates itself to a higher moral plane. We all do – or want to. And the government always makes a particularly good target. Power corrupts, etc., etc. Except that both the media and the government have the power in our society – and sometimes the media has more of it. Some of this has to do with platform, some to do with longevity. The satraps of the Fourth Estate linger on for decades while pols often disappear as quickly as you can say Tom DeLay. Which side deserves more protection? Well, neither do. Both should be subject to inspection, always mindful that the protection of society involves the existence of some kind of functioning intelligence service and that whistle-blowers have agendas of their own. The idea that the press should always be able to protect these sources depends on the mind-boggling premise that reporters will always be objective (who is?), not to mention the assumption that these same reporters and editors would always be able to evaluate accurately the motives of others (who can?). No, the views of mainstream media have become antediluvian on this one. Open up! Open up!
UPDATE: Byron York at the Corner, regarding leaks:
Too late, the Times and its allies realized that a terrible precedent had been set. Now some of them try to argue that the Wilson leak was an act of retribution, while the NSA and secret prisons leaks were the work of good-government whistleblowers, so one should be vigorously prosecuted while the others are ignored. It won’t work. Leaks are leaks, and the NSA and secret prisons leaks were, by any estimation, far more damaging to national security than the Wilson leak. (In that case, the special prosecutor said in court recently that he did not intend to show that any damage occurred from the leak.)