Thursday, July 07, 2005

US journalist sent to jail for refusing to name source

The advantages of the US Constitution are highlighted again by this case. It may not seem so, because this New York Times journalist currently faces jail for contempt of court! The fact remains that journalistic freedom is guaranteed by the First Amendment. It is a matter for the Supreme Court, not the Government, whether or not journalistic sources should be protected. I don't know the details of this case and any human institution can err. However, I have more confidence that justice will eventually be done than I would in the UK, where the Executive has the Legislature firmly in its pocket.

Sadly, if the UK were to entrench a written Constitution at this point in its history, it would full of irrelevant pieties and would lack hard protections of the citizen against the State. The USA is very lucky that its Constitution was drafted at the historical high water mark of liberalism (not to mention at a beautiful moment for the English language).

Is it just me, or is the tone of British journalism -especially broadcast journalism - becoming more and more sycophantic? No government in British history has been more attentive to the Press. That attention has sometimes taken the form of sucking up to tabloid editors, but has also involved foul abuse from the Prime Minister's press office and "public enquiries" into journalistic allegations - which of course entirely exonerated the government (to general public incredulity).

It's less than two years since I arrived in Russia. I used to laugh at the Putin "cult of personality" as manifested in the Russian media. However, the British media seem to be converging stylistically - in their coverage of Blair - with their Russian counterparts. The man who abolished habeas corpus in the country that conceived it should not be getting such a free ride from the Fourth Estate.

Telegraph | News | US journalist sent to jail for refusing to name source

No comments: