RUSH: It’s the Matt and Judy Show: Matt Cooper, TIME Magazine, and Judith Miller of the New York Times. They have until next week to prove to a judge why they shouldn’t go to jail or else turn over their notes that a prosecutor wants. TIME, Incorporated said today — Norman Pearlstine, their executive editor, said — that they will comply with the court order to deliver the notes of a reporter threatened with jail in the probe of the leak of a CIA officer’s name. His name is Matt Cooper. He’s married to Mandy Grunwald, by the way, and he’s a very funny guy. These reporters all get together and have these amateur comedy nights now and then, and he’s always either winning these things or at the top of the list. But this is the case over the probe of the leak of Valerie Plame’s name, the CIA officer. “The New York Times said it was deeply disappointed in TIME Magazine’s move, which came just a few days after the US Supreme Court rejected the journalist’s appeal. The US district judge here Thomas Hogan is threatening to jail Matt Cooper, TIME’s White House co-respondent, and Judith Miller, co-respondent of the New York Times,” I’ve always wanted to pronounce that word that way, “for contempt for refusing to disclose their sources.” Now, in a statement Norman Pearlstine (who, again, is the executive editor of TIME), said it “believes the Supreme Court has limited express freedom in ways that will have a chilling effect on our work and that may damage the free flow of information that is so necessary in a democratic society.” It also said that despite those concerns, it’ll turn over the records with the special counsel investigating the leak. Said Pearlstine, “The same Constitution that protects the freedom of the press requires obedience to final decisions of the courts and respect for their rules and judgments; that TIME, Inc., strongly disagrees with the courts provides no immunity.”
It is as I said yesterday: The First Amendment hasn’t meant a whole lot lately. Campaign finance reform came along and limited the free speech of citizens and the media was all for that. Now it’s being turned on them. These are the kind of things you would hope would wake them up as to what’s happening with the judicial branch in this country. So Mr. Pearlstine acknowledges that: Hey, Constitution is the Constitution. The judge is a judge; a court’s a court; a ruling is a rule. Just because we disagree with it doesn’t mean anything. There’s also something he didn’t say, and that is that the prosecution or the court can really lay out a huge fine as well if they don’t comply — and that would, of course, have ramifications, stockholders, stock price, depending on the size of the fine. Now, that Little Pinch, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. — his dad was Punch; he’s called “the Little Pinch” — Pinch, publisher of the New York Times said, “‘We are deeply disappointed by TIME’s decision to deliver the subpoenaed records.’ He noted that one of their reporters served 40 days in jail in 1978 in a similar dispute. ‘Our focus is now on our own reporter, Judith Miller, and in supporting her during this difficult time.’ The judge yesterday agreed to hold a hearing next week to consider arguments against jailing these two, but he expressed skepticism that any new arguments would change his mind. ‘It’s curiouser [sic] and curiouser. I don’t understand why the reporters are asking for more time,’ the judge said. ‘Seems to me the time has come. Much more delay and we will be at the end of the grand jury.'”
Novak has been drawn into this, too, because some are saying that, “Hey, Bob, what kind of conversations did you have with this special prosecutor that led to all this?” And Novak said (summarized), “I didn’t have any. I’m not talking about it because to think they’re going to jail because of me is absurd, and it’s not the case,” and he feels very disappointed that they are going to jail. I, frankly, think it’s absurd, too. I know it’s the law and the judge can rule as he rules, but I’m going to tell you something, folks: The press does have constitutional protection. I know the Supreme Court has ruled that they can’t protect sources in criminal cases, and that’s what’s governing this. This is a criminal case. This is the release of a name of a CIA “super-secret agent.” But I just, something about this jailing journalists and this sort of thing. There’s another case out there, and I just barely mentioned this earlier this week, and this one is far more troubling to me than this one is. Wen Ho Lee, who worked at the Los Alamos nuclear facility out in New Mexico, and if you remember the case, this guy based on news reporting alone was assumed to have been a traitor. This guy, we all thought this guy was a traitor sending nuclear secrets back to Red China, the ChiComs, and the reason for this? Four reports — Washington Post, New York Times among them — and their confidential anonymous sources, and they ran with this, and they went to trial, and it turns out that Wen Ho Lee was no more guilty of treason than your pet dog.
The judge, in something that’s unprecedented, apologized from the bench to Wen Ho Lee and said that the nation owed him an apology for what he had been put through, and now there is a civil suit against these four journalists for these anonymous sources and destroying his career and reputation and life. That, you know, I’m far more sensitive to that than to this. The special prosecutor in the Matt and Judy affair hasn’t even broad any charges against anybody! It’s been going on for two years. Everybody knows who the woman’s name is now, and Joe Wilson, the husband here, helped publicize here by posing for a picture in Vanity Fair inside their sports car while she’s wearing a scarf and sunglasses driving around saying, “Look at me! Look at me! Notice me! Notice me!” You know, to say that these people seek privacy is idiotic. I think this is a little over the top sending these people to jail for something like this when you compare it to some of the other things out there that are going on, but it is not unprecedented. There have been reporters go to jail for failing to reveal sources, and I don’t mean to act na?ve about that. But things like this Wen Ho Lee case, and I’m holding that story, as I say, in reserve, folks, because when you’ve got reporters using anonymous sources, close to the investigation or close to the source, whatever, that end up being totally incorrect, there is a course of action against that, and Mr. Lee, I think Wen Ho Lee is pondering it — and maybe a court is. I’ll have to dig the story back out. But that’s something I think that’s pretty serious.
RUSH: Ed in Dayton, Ohio, you’re next. Welcome to the program, sir.
CALLER: Hi there, Rush.
CALLER: Glad to talk to you.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: I’ve got a point about — a moment ago you were talking about Wen Ho Lee.
RUSH: I was, yes.
CALLER: I think he was basically the cover after the Clinton administration had basically allowed China to get access to the W-80 warhead data, and then they allowed Loral to sell the warhead BUS technology? I think they had to do something to look like they cared about national security, so basically they threw the book at him through reporters.
RUSH: Could be. Somebody leaked information to these reporters that focused on Wen Ho Lee. It was about some missing tapes. It was about the missing secret tapes from the Los Alamos facility. I don’t want to even speculate on who it might have been. These are unnamed sources; these are anonymous sources, and you just don’t know. That is the whole point. The point is they were dead wrong, and they destroyed this guy’s life for a while and ruined his reputation, and it was all baloney. It was all total BS. As to your point that it might have been Clinton going after Wen Ho Lee because of Loral and the campaign finance problem they had with Chinese money, I’m not sure that’s the case because the mainstream press didn’t find anything wrong with that to begin with. The majority of mainstream press coverage about campaign donations from China and the Loral Space people helping out Chinese rocket industry, missile industry, didn’t make big news. Clinton was not really routinely questioned about it so if there were those concerns in the Clinton administration it would have to have been for historical legacy purposes because it wasn’t a big deal other than in the New Media — and, of course, the press and the Clinton administration, Democrats back then, as they do now, consider the new media a bunch of crackpots and not worth anybody’s time. So it would be tough to nail down who these unnamed sources are. One thing you can be sure of, if it is somebody in the Clinton camp, there’s a lot of insulation between whoever it really was and the president himself.
Mr. Snerdley has sent me a note here. He says, “With your experiences with the mainstream press, how can you remain so objective and not want to see some of them tossed in jail?” I think jail time is for people that need to be distanced from mainstream society. You know, jail time is for people that commit crimes against other people, and they need to be sequestered for the protection of society at large and this sort of thing. I don’t really regard journalists and their anonymous sources in a circumstance like this especially with all that’s known about this Valerie Plame case. We know who she is. We already know who she is. Judith Miller never even wrote a story about this, Mr. Snerdley, and she’s threatened with jail here over not revealing a source. She didn’t even write a story about it; she was preparing one but she never wrote it and so she’s caught up going to jail here. I think it was ridiculous to send Martha Stewart to jail. There are other ways of meting out punishment to these kind of people. But this is just over the top. I don’t think I’m being inconsistent at all. I think, you know, whether it be eminent domain or whether it be the Ten Commandments, government is just simply too big and it’s too powerful. It’s just getting out of hand and it’s getting more and more so every day, and I think it’s a dangerous thing when in politics we end up wanting our enemies to go to jail. That’s not the way to deal with them and that’s not a way to get rid of them. You defeat them in the arena of ideas or you defeat them in other ways. But something about this, she didn’t even write a story. We know who this woman is. We know this woman is a publicity seeker herself. We know that her husband is a publicity seeker. We know that her husband and herself arranged for this duel spread at Vanity Fair with themselves pictured — even though she’s wearing sunglasses and a scarf. If anybody needs to be the focus of legal action it’s those two, if you ask me. Joe Wilson and his Niger report on yellowcake uranium and so forth. But I don’t know what purpose would be served. “It may have a chilling effect on other journalists, Rush. You’ll understand.” No, not in this case. The Wen Ho Lee case, yeah. Wholly different situation. Totally different situation. Beside Judith Miller is not even the one that released her name; Novak did. Matt Cooper did not release her name. They’re just two that haven’t divulged their source. Now, look, I know the law is the law, and the Supreme Court back I think ’72 or ’79 said that you can’t withhold the identity of the sources in criminal cases. If you do, you face contempt and a fine. You go to jail. I know the law’s the law, but this is a bit over the top for me.