The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, August 20, 2004

Plame journos: love the framing, guys!

One of the common features of those necessary evils, politics and journalism, is the primacy of framing. It's what turns a rough and ill-matched collection of facts into a story, with a satisfying story arc, which delights the punter and serves the interest of the teller.

So powerful is the effect of framing on the public, so inherent is deceit and manipulation and ulterior motive, that its use is sufficient to damn both sets of parishioners as untouchables, sweepers, night-soil men.

According to Arthur Sulzberger (friend of Judith Miller, remember - March 22 and June 1), as quoted by a Chicago Reader piece
Journalists should not have to face the prospect of imprisonment for doing nothing more than aggressively seeking to report on the government's actions. Such subpoenas make it less likely that sources will be willing to talk candidly with reporters and ultimately it is the public that suffers.

This from the guy whose outfit aided and abetted USG's selling of the Iraq invasion, with actual or constructive knowledge that much of the information they were retailing was probably untrue.

Journalist's right to protect their sources has, mostly, been a question of Don't ask, don't tell. The legal position is deeply unsatisfactory [1], and neither prosecutors or journalists have generally been willing to test it to the limits, or at all.

Compared with the right to free speech, an absolute right is much more difficult to defend. Cases analogous to the so-called ticking-bomb, for instance.

But, that a hack like Sulzberger should lay on Capracorn nonsense with a trowel in order to try to frame the story as his newspaper fighting for justice against the government machine - given that paper's dismal record of carrying bile for the current administration supplied by an army of USG anonymice [2] - can only encourage the fair-minded to support a politique du pire: let's see the journos filling the jails, and perhaps a media genuinely hostile towards the machinations of government will break up the cartel it has worked with administrations past and present, and aim for genuine independence.

Such a media might
aggressively seek[] to report on the government's actions
somewhere other than in Sulzberger's over-active imagination.

And, next week in Druther Corner...

  1. My August 10 piece - note that, just as on the diversity question in affirmative action, the nigger in the woodpile is the loathsome Justice Powell who, six years before he screwed up the AA law right royally in Bakke, performed a similar job of judicial obfuscation in Branzburg v Hayes. The piece also looks at the shortcomings of the Pennsylvania shield law.

  2. Leaving history aside: the paper's gross dereliction of duty over the early escalation of the Vietnam War, for instance.

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