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Journalist “Ethics”

Monday, December 26, 2005  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

You already know the old saw about military intelligence. The public is well on the way to replacing that tired laugh line with “journalist ethics”.

With a stack of finals to be graded, blogging will be very light, but Betsy Newmark has two entries on the emerging field of journalistic incoherence on ethics, here and here.

If you weren’t reading much over the weekend, be sure to catch up to Tim Rutten’s “Notice me New York Times!” piece from Saturday’s Los Angeles Times, written up here.

I wonder what journalism’s confused tubas of deep thoughts would say to the hypothetical: If Aldrich Ames had passed the information he gave to the Soviets to the New York Times instead, would Ames have still committed a crime deserving of his life sentence? The New York Times and to a lesser extent the Washington Post have decided that they are the ultimate judges of what will constitute a dangerous breach of national security. The trouble is that both papers, and especially the Times are populated by extreme anti-Bush Ahabs, willing to push all judgment aside for the purpose of trying deseprately to harm the president. (Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff notes the Times may in fact be helping Bush even as the paper injures the country’s national security.) The real world experience of the scribblers with intelligence gathering and operations is quite low, and their ability to judge the seriousness of the breaches they are gleefully writing up and slamming on to the front page about as high as their ability to diagnose disease on the basis of an undergraduate degree in biology. Distrust of media has many sources, but the fecklessness of left-wing MSM on national security is deepening the disgust.

Hopefully a vigorous investigation is under way into who leaked highly classified material to the Times. If the identity of the criminal can be discovered, the country will get a good look at the motives of the leaker, and the best guess is that those motives will be of the low partisan variety –similar, I suspect, to the motives of many of the reporters and editors involved.

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