Letter of the Week

Dawson's freak

I would like to thank Sloane Crosley for putting into words some of the things I have been feeling ever since the TomKat relationship started ["Compassion: Impossible," The Essay, July 6-12]. I wasn't born the same year as Katie Holmes (as Crosley was), but a few years later. My friends and I weren't the same age as the Dawson's Creek actors, but we were just two years younger than the characters they played. The show was extremely impactful in defining the values, fashion sense, and activities many of my classmates and I shared. To see our little Joey Potter shamelessly insulted and abused and exploited in every magazine has been heartbreaking. It has signified the falling of one of my idols and the end of my blissful youth.

Andrew Cole
St. Paul, Minnesota


Re Sydney H. Schanberg's "Two-Timed by Time" [Press Clips, July 6-12]: Is freedom of the press really being weakened in this instance? Not only was the White House leak of a CIA operative's name, Valerie Plame, a crime, but the media were instrumental in the commission of the crime. If a confidential source came to a reporter and offered details of a murder, and then asked the reporter to hold, aim, and fire the gun, and if the reporter agreed, then should either the reporter or the confidential source be protected? The crime of treason was already committed by the White House source in just revealing Plame's identity, but even then, without the publicity that appearing in a newspaper gave this leak, the whole impact of the crime could have been reduced or eliminated had the journalists involved properly contacted the police in a timely fashion. When journalists become tools of corrupt politicians, it's not just freedom of the press that's compromised.

Linda De Witt
Montreal, Quebec

Silent right

I'm in complete agreement with Schanberg that a journalist should be able to keep secret the names of sources. In the Valerie Plame affair, however, it appears that Time reporter Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller have shielded persons who may well have committed a felony rather than safe-guarding the identities of whistle-blowers. That being the case, Miller and Cooper don't have the right to be silent; except for the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, no one has the right to refuse to testify. Those who are crying foul would do well to remember that fact.

William Wilgus
Silver Springs, Florida

Counsel contretemps

Schanberg (full disclosure: We were colleagues at apbnews.com) concludes his article with the plea "The press has suffered another wound. Will anyone own up that the wound is partly self-inflicted from a failure to stand firm on core principles?"

On July 1, an editorial in The Wall Street Journal did exactly that: "[T]his is a debacle that some in the press corps have brought down upon themselves and the rest of us. They did so by demanding, in liberal unison like the Rockettes, that the Bush Administration name a 'special counsel' to find out who leaked the name of CIA analyst Valerie Plame."

I recall that several Democrats in the Senate—Tom Daschle, Carl Levin, Joseph Biden, Jay Rockefeller, Charles Schumer, John Kerry, and John Edwards (these last two presidential candidates at the time)—sent letters to then attorney general John Ashcroft and President Bush demanding that a special counsel be appointed to investigate the Plame leak.

With all due respect to Schanberg, whose storied career demands respect from a whipper-snapper like me, the violation of journalistic principle occurred when the mainstream media decided to take up this clearly partisan cause and begin a relentless pressure campaign in favor of a special prosecutor.

It was widely believed then, and still is, that an investigation would reveal Karl Rove to be the source of the leak. Then the real objective of turning Plame into a federal offense would be realized—the dismissal of Rove. What a coup that would have been during an election campaign. The press might have been instrumental in bringing down another president. Woo-hoo! That's even better than getting a Pulitzer.

But having reached this point, as I see it, a journalist has two choices: cooperate with an investigation (as the law requires) or go to jail to protect his source (as the ethics of the profession demand). Merely offering to go to jail isn't one of the options.

Ruth Papazian
Morris Park, Bronx

Old friends

Thanks so much to Mark Holcomb for his very generous review of Murderball ["Quad Wrangle," July 6-12]. Alas, there is one thing he strangely misunderstood. When quadriplegic rugby player Mark Zupan decided to invite Chris Igoe, his best friend, who unknowingly paralyzed him in a car crash, to Greece, we thought it was a really cool gesture, so we filmed it. The reason the "confrontation" fell "flat," as Holcomb writes, is because it wasn't a confrontation at all. They were very happy to see each other. Holcomb is right that Zupan had forgiven Igoe years ago; it's Igoe who has had trouble forgiving himself. If anything, the making of this film has made them grow close again because it got these two old best friends talking again regularly.

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