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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Are Howard Dean and Frank Rich the same person?

Blogger and Law Professor Ann Althouse blogged today about why did the former Vermont Governor and now DNC chairman compare the pre-war controversy over intelligence to Watergate back in 1974.

This isn't an original link. NY Times columnist Frank Rich made a similiar analogy in a July 10th column. (Warning you must have NY Times select to use that link) Below is part of Mr. Rich's column.

WHEN John Dean published his book ''Worse Than Watergate'' in the spring of 2004, it seemed rank hyperbole: an election-year screed and yet another attempt by a Nixon alumnus to downgrade Watergate crimes by unearthing worse ''gates'' thereafter. But it's hard to be dismissive now that my colleague Judy Miller has been taken away in shackles for refusing to name the source for a story she never wrote. No reporter went to jail during Watergate. No news organization buckled like Time. No one instigated a war on phony premises. This is worse than Watergate.
To start to see why, forget all the legalistic chatter about shield laws and turn instead to ''The Secret Man,'' Bob Woodward's new memoir about life with Deep Throat. The book arrived in stores just as Judy Miller was jailed, as if by divine intervention to help illuminate her case.

Should a journalist protect a sleazy, possibly even criminal, source? Yes, sometimes, if the public is to get news of wrongdoing. Mark Felt was a turncoat with alternately impenetrable and self-interested motives who betrayed the F.B.I. and, in Mr. Woodward's words, ''lied to his colleagues, friends and even his family.'' (Mr. Felt even lied in his own 1979 memoir.) Should a journalist break a promise of confidentiality after, let alone before, the story is over? ''It is critical that confidential sources feel they would be protected for life,'' Mr. Woodward writes. ''There needed to be a model out there where people could come forward or speak when contacted, knowing they would be protected. It was a matter of my work, a matter of honor.''

That honorable model, which has now been demolished at Time, was a given in what seems like the halcyon Watergate era of ''The Secret Man.'' Mr. Woodward and Carl Bernstein had confidence that The Washington Post's publisher, Katharine Graham, and editor, Ben Bradlee, would back them to the hilt, even though the Nixon White House demonized their reporting as inaccurate (as did some journalistic competitors) and threatened the licenses of television stations owned by the Post Company.

At Time, Norman Pearlstine -- a member of the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists, no less -- described his decision to turn over Matt Cooper's files to the feds as his own, made on the merits and without consulting any higher-ups at Time Warner. That's no doubt the truth, but a corporate mentality needn't be imposed by direct fiat; it's a virus that metastasizes in the bureaucratic bloodstream. I doubt anyone at Time Warner ever orders an editor to promote a schlocky Warner Brothers movie either. (Entertainment Weekly did two covers in one month on ''The Matrix Reloaded.'')

Time Warner seems to have far too much money on the table in Washington to exercise absolute editorial freedom when covering the government; at this moment it's awaiting an F.C.C. review of its joint acquisition (with Comcast) of the bankrupt cable company Adelphia. ''Is this a journalistic company or an entertainment company?'' David Halberstam asked after the Pearlstine decision. We have the answer now. What high-level source would risk talking to Time about governmental corruption after this cave-in? What top investigative reporter would choose to work there?

But the most important difference between the Bush and Nixon eras has less to do with the press than with the grave origins of the particular case that has sent Judy Miller to jail. This scandal didn't begin, as Watergate did, simply with dirty tricks and spying on the political opposition. It began with the sending of American men and women to war in Iraq.

So its been done before. The Democrats claim Republicans live in the past, when it so often is them in reality. I wouldn't give much credence to anything Governor Dean says, he is either small minded or don't know what he is saying more often than not.

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