The Supreme Court ruled against the New York Times yesterday, refusing to block the government from reviewing telephone records of two reporters in a leak investigation concerning a terrorism-funding probe.
In a series of stories in 2001, the Times revealed the government’s plans to freeze the assets of two Islamic charities, the Holy Land Foundation and the Global Relief Foundation. The cast of characters here are old and familiar: the reporters are Judy Miller and Philip Shenon and the U.S. Attorney trying to track down the reporters’ confidential sources is Patrick Fitzgerald. (For the record, the Fitzgerald fetishizing that was so abundant during the Plamegate scandal may have missed an important point: Fitzgerald is still an agent of a hyper-aggressive government that frequently targets reporters in an effort to curtail their ability to do their jobs. Sometimes his duties put in him the right, sometimes in the wrong.)
Just yesterday, Mother Jones blogged about the Hearst Co. lawyer who is trying (and, unfortunately, frequently failing) to protect the rights of reporters in her company who find themselves under subpoena more and more these days.
And on Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle demonstrated their concern on the subject with a very good and very thorough piece entitled “ASSAULT ON PRESS FREEDOM.” No mucking around there.
Put it all together and there’s little wonder we’re tied with Botswana, Croatia and Tonga for 53rd in the 2006 Press Rankings.