Friday, May 26, 2006

No, MSM, You are Not Exempt...

...from refusing to testify in criminal cases. Or so ordered a federal judge today. "The First Amendment does not protect a news reporter or that reporter's news organization from producing documents ... in a criminal case," said United States District Judge Reggie B. Walton in a ruling released today. According to Breitbart News, Walton ordered Time Magazine and the New York Times to turn over parts of their reporters' notes to the defense team of former Vice-Presidential Chief of Staff Lewis Libby.

This is good news to those of us who find the Drive-By Media a little too imperial for our tastes. Ordinary citizens do not have a choice whether or not they can testify in a criminal case, and certainly are not able to withold information simply because they feel like it. The Press, however, has been throwing their weight around for some time pretending that the US Constitution's First Amendment somehow puts them above the law. They have even been agitating for an official federal shield law to allow them to be the ultimate arbiters of what is fit to print and what isn't - even if it is illegal, as the New York Times's publication of the NSA's phone database almost certainly was.

But do reporters have a right to withold information from judges in a criminal case? Let's review. The actual text of the First Amendment says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I don't see anything in that Amendment allowing reporters to decide when they will testify in criminal cases and when they will not. Fortunately, the judge in this case resisted the media pressure and (correctly) found the same thing. Although I am sure the Press will appeal, this will hopefully prove to be a sobering impulse to a news media that is entirely too impressed with itself, despite the many documented failures of the Press to report the facts, such as Katrina, the Iraq war, the last two Presidential elections, the forged Bush Guard memos and others.

Hat tip to Matt Drudge.

No comments: