Viveca Novak’s account of what she told Bob Luskin about the Plamegate investigation is up at Time. And it reveals much about why what passes for “jounalism” is clueless.
Washington “journalists” and Washington “government officials” and their “attorneys” are all one big happy family. They have drinks together. They meet for dinner. They go to the same parties. They bump into each other at posh vacation spots. And loyalty to one’s source-buddies comes first — before employer, nation, or truth itself.
This has been apparent of the television “punditocracy” — Cokie et al. — for years. But after the Judy Miller, Bob Woodward, and now Viveca Novak episode, it is apparent more humble print reporters have crawled into the same compromised bed.
As Jeralyn, Kevin, and Jane point out, the impact of Novak’s testimony on Karl Rove’s future depends a lot on what other information Patrick Fitzgerald might have. But the corruption of journalism is crystal clear. I sincerely hope that every working reporter covering Washington politics — and politics elsewhere — is doing some heavy-duty soul searching right now.
Where will it end, and when will reporters pay with their jobs? First we learn that Bob Woodward failed to tell his editor for years about his role in the Plame/CIA leak case. Today, we find out that Time reporter Viveca Novak not only kept her editors in the dark about her own involvement, but even had a two-hour chat with the special prosecutor about it well before telling her superiors.
At the end of her first-person account at Time online today, we are told in a brief editor’s note that she is by â€mutual agreementâ€ now on a â€œleave of absence.â€ Has she been taken to the woodshed and, if not, why not?
… as it turns out, just for the sake of stalling Rove’s indictment for a month or two, Luskin has torched Novak’s career with Time (which notes as the end of her article that she is on a mutually agreed “leave of absence”). It seems that Viveca didn’t tell her bosses about her chats with Luskin to begin with, nor even when she first was interviewed by Fitzgerald — and when she did admit her involvement after being asked to testify under oath, they weren’t happy.
There should be an object lesson there for Washington, D.C. reporters playing the “access journalism” game … the sources who you’re covering up for even as they give you lies and personal smears will burn you in the blink of an eye if it helps them in the slightest.
Then again, that seems to be a larger message that the Bushites are all too happy to send to the media. What the latter thought was merely an occasionally distasteful exchange of information was really a blackmail ring. In the Corleone administration, reporters aren’t expected to keep quiet out of duty to the First Amendment — they’re expected to do so because they’ll be destroyed by any means possible if they don’t.
Reporters, please note: “Sources” are not “buddies.” And sources who try to use you to manipulate news, by feeding you lies and smears, are not worthy of protection. Got that?