Let journalists do their jobs

It’s looking ever more like the Bush administration is ready to go to war with the press.
The other day, Washington Post reporter Dan Eggen turned out an insightful news story that detailed the ongoing effort to target journalists who are ferreting out what Bush is doing behind closed doors.
”The efforts include several FBI probes, a polygraph investigation inside the CIA and a warning from the Justice Department that reporters could be prosecuted under espionage laws,” Eggen reported.
Imagine seeing journalists hauled into court on espionage charges for having the guts to dig out the dark secrets of an administration that enjoys operating in the shadows rather than the sunshine. That’s where this is heading.
Listen to what Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times had to say: ”There’s a tone of gleeful relish in the way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries, their appetite for withholding information, and the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public’s business risk being branded traitors. I don’t know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values it professes to be promoting abroad.”
While The Tattoo is unlikely to find its teen reporters hauled before grand juries, it has as much interest as anyone in defending and expanding the First Amendment’s protection for a free press.
Let’s stand up for American values and defend a free press here even as we encourage the rest of the world to follow our lead.
There’s nothing in history that’s done more to make sure leaders are accountable than a boisterous, noisy, scrambling gang of journalists looking for scoops and determined to stick it to the powerful.
Instead of assaulting the journalists who provide crucial information to the public, the president should be reconsidering programs and policies that he’s afraid to let Americans know about. There’s a place for secrecy, surely, but it ought to be a small and carefully considered place, not the norm.
President Bush, reporters are not your enemy. The enemy is.

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