Thursday, June 07, 2007

No shame

While Paris Hilton's release from jail is the story of the day, it's worth noting that the San Francisco Chronicle's conduct in the BALCO investigation -- with its reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada conspiring with a defense attorney to subvert the government's case -- continues to be shady, to say the least.

Now the paper's demanding release of the redacted names in the case against the former Mets clubhouse attendant, according to a story by Williams and Fainaru-Wada.

After their egregious conduct, these guys should no longer be reporting on this case since they were willing to sacrifice even the pretense of journalistic ethics. It's obvious that the Chronicle doesn't care about those kind of concerns. I'm going to repeat part of what Tim Rutten of the LA Times said about their conduct earlier this year --

Two San Francisco Chronicle reporters — Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams — have made themselves poster children for advocates of a federal shield law by risking jail to protect the source who leaked them federal grand jury testimony by three professional baseball stars, including Barry Bonds.Thursday, we learned just who they were protecting when Troy L. Ellerman, a defense lawyer for one of BALCO's vice presidents, pleaded guilty to contempt of court, obstruction of justice and filing a false declaration with a federal court. Ellerman leaked the testimony to the Chronicle reporters, then went out and argued that the ensuing publicity would deny his client a fair trial. Worse, he actually filed motions with the court alleging that prosecutors had leaked the testimony and that charges against the BALCO official should be dismissed.The two reporters maintained their silence while all this occurred. Worse, Fainaru-Wada returned to the defense attorney's office to obtain still more leaked testimony after their source had lied in public and to the court.
Conspiring with somebody you know is actively perverting the administration of justice to your mutual advantage is a betrayal of the public interest whose protection is the only basis on which journalistic privilege of any sort has a right to assert itself. Maybe this is how sophisticated investigative reporters navigate the ambiguities of "source management," but an ordinary person with no more than the sense of right and wrong that they learned at Mother's knee would call this conduct what it is: sleazy and contemptible.


Blogger SonDog said...

Thank you for that. Thank you.

6:42 AM  

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