The New York Times is throwing its weight behindÂ a “compromise”Â federal shield lawÂ whose protections are describedÂ by by TimesÂ reporter Adam Liptak as:
“weaker than those in almost all of the 49 states that shield journalists from state actions through statutes and judicial decisions. They are also weaker than the protections in the Justice Departmentâ€™s own guidelines for issuing subpoenas to journalists.”
The bill is cosponsored by SenÂ Charles Schumer, D-NY,Â and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA. “This bill can pass,” Schumer tells the Times which — according to the article — supports the new bill along with “scores of news organizations.”
I am not supportive of a federal shield law. I thinkÂ mass media performed shamefully in the lead up to the Iraq War. The national press corps was complicit in misleading the nation into war by repeatedly reporting the lies toldÂ them byÂ “persons speaking under condition of anonymity.”Â
I would guess a majority of professional journalistsÂ want a federal shield law. When Congress was consideringÂ stronger proposals were earlier in the year I arguedÂ against those laws,Â and more than onceÂ said thatÂ professional journalists deserve no protection not afforded any other American.
But if mass mediaÂ are content withÂ this legalÂ fig leafÂ why bother arguing.Â The bill’sÂ protectionsÂ areÂ asÂ pathetic as the press’s pre-war performance. Perhaps that’s the justice in all this.