A Message from the Dean
Confidential Sources on Trial
Shelter From the Storm
Harrison Report: Post-World War II Bombshell
A Case of Political Descent
Clinic Hits Thirty
The Brief
The Board of Overseers
Faculty News & Publications
Philanthropy
Alumni Briefs
In Memoriam
Case Closed
 
Confidential Sources on Trial
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Unlike the situation at the New York Times, where even Judith Miller's editors were unaware of who her sources were, Time's Matthew Cooper had sent various e-mails in which his sources were named. “Representing the institution of Time Inc., who was being held in contempt, the concern I had was of a special counsel who could subpoena a couple dozen people trying to find the names of these sources,” says Pearlstine.

Pearlstine also wrestled with the issue of “whether this was the kind of source and kind of case that you typically grant confidential source status to.” Not having spent much of his professional life in Washington, he says he was surprised at the apparent ease and frequency with which reporters there confer confidential source status. “I had grown up in an environment as a journalist where I knew you need confidential sources to do a lot of things,” he says. “But the confidentiality that went beyond a story to resisting prosecutors who were seeking information usually was reserved for whistleblowers who were putting their livelihood, their reputation, their lives at risk by giving you information that was in the public interest and that you wanted to run.” Presidential aide Karl Rove hardly fit such a description. “Our source really was, more than anything, I think, trying to explain why a whistleblower — Joe Wilson — was not a credible figure,” says Pearlstine. “And he certainly was not at any risk of losing his job or his livelihood or reputation by doing what the Administration clearly wanted him doing.”
 
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