[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Another Question About the Press: Why Didn't Novak Help Libby?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Another Question About the Press: Why Didn't Novak Help Libby?

Re: Recent revelations about the Plame affair (via Rachel).

So if Armitage behaved so dishonorably, why did Novak feel bound to continue to honor Armitage's anonymity? Armitage is by far the bigger villain here -- though not as big a villain as Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, but that's another issue -- but doesn't Novak deserve criticism for not revealing Armitage's identity when Libby and Rove were twisting in the wind and he, Novak, might have been able to help get them off the hook?

Novak seems to set great store by his commitment to maintain the confidentiality of his "sources," but shouldn't he have acted otherwise in this case? It looks as though Novak was more concerned with not scaring off the government leakers who are his bread and butter than he was with saving innocent men from disgrace, great expense and possible (actual in Libby's case) prosecution. I don't see how Novak's position was different in principle from that of a psychiatrist who learns that one of his patients plans to commit a serious crime. In such a case the psychiatrist's professional duty to maintain patient confidentiality is outweighed by the need to prevent great harm to others.

Of course there was no reason why Fitzgerald couldn't have subpoenaed Novak long ago and asked him to reveal his source, as more than one blogger long ago pointed out. But was there any reason, besides professional self-interest, for Novak not to reveal that information on his own?

(cross posted at Chicago Boyz)


Blogger Robert said...

Great first post Jonathan!

Where are all the apologies from the Democrats who were salivating to fry Rove and Libby?

12:07 PM, September 16, 2006  
Blogger Srcohiba said...

Novak couldn't reveal the source without RA's consent. It's like attorney client privilege in a way. The privilege belongs to the source/client. That's why.

11:22 PM, September 16, 2006  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I think that is probably what Novak thinks too, but I disagree with it. I don't think there is a parallel between attorneys and their clients and journalists and their sources. An attorney works for his client, a journalist does not work for his source. Why should Novak protect Armitage when Armitage allows other people to be blamed for his own actions? Armitage himself should have come forward to get Libby off the hook. Failing that, Novak should have outed him. Some things are more important than getting the scoop, or even the next few scoops.

And even if there was some kind of privilege, Novak could have made clear that neither Libby, Rove nor any of the other people whose names were thrown around as the leaker was his source. Given the stakes for Libby I think Novak would have been justified in outing Armitage in this situation too.

12:15 AM, September 17, 2006  

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