Last weekend Tim Rutten of the LA Times asked and answered the following question:
"Why should you care about reporters' rights?"
Let's excerpt his answer:
IS there really any reason for you to care that lawyers acting for Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, this week served subpoenas on the New York Times, Washington Post, Time magazine and at least four journalists?
...Libby's lawyers say that defending their client against charges he lied to a federal grand jury probing the leak of former CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity to reporters requires that they be allowed to question New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, former Times reporter Judith Miller, Time's Matthew Cooper and NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert. They also want to see any notes, e-mails, memoranda, draft articles or any other documents these journalists' news organizations may have relating to their work on the Plame story.
Miller, you'll recall, never actually wrote a story about the former agent. Her lawyer, Robert S. Bennett, said it was "highly likely" that Miller would fight the subpoena, which he called "entirely too broad."
Broad hardly begins to describe it. This thing is wider than your Aunt Margaret's rear end. This is no legitimate defense request for exculpatory information; it's a fishing expedition. Don't look for its inspiration in the common law, but in Dickens' Mr. Micawber: "Something, my Dear Copperfield, will turn up."
This is not part of a legitimate defense? I urge Mr. Rutten to read the indictment of Mr. Libby as prepared by special Counsel Fitzgerald. If he so occupies himself, he will quickly see that all four of these reporters are mentioned in it, and that the interactions of Mr. Libby with Judy Miller, Tim Russert, and Matt Cooper form the basis of the perjury and obstruction charges. Yet Mr. Rutten thinks that the defense should not be allowed to chat with these star witnesses for the prosecution? Ridiculous.
Ridiculous, but not surprising - as Tim Rutten himself once wrote, "It takes a strong stomach to plunge into the sea of malice, mendacity and misrepresentation that now churns around the affair of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his wife, Valerie Plame."