He Cracked, I Won’t

Is Norman Pearlstine a strategic genius after all? Time agrees to stop fighting the corporate part of the special prosecutor’s subpoena–leaving Matt Cooper to protect his personal agreement with his confidential source by his personal self in his personal jail cell. So as the locomotive of justice bears down on lonesome Cooper, the mystery source swoops in–“in somewhat dramatic fashion,” as Cooper reportedly put it–to untie him from the tracks, releasing him from his confidentiality deal.

No such rescuer appeared for Judith Miller. Maybe it was because her employer stayed solidly behind her; maybe her secret source was less softhearted. Either way, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. was left to wave goodbye and issue another statement of principle. The full text:

“There are times when the greater good of our democracy demands an act of conscience. Judy has chosen such an act in honoring her promise of confidentiality to her sources. She believes, as do we, that the free flow of information is critical to an informed citizenry.

“It has been more than 25 years since Myron Farber, a Times reporter, was jailed and The Times was fined for refusing to provide the names of confidential sources. Subsequently, Mr. Farber and The Times were pardoned and the fines were returned. The case prompted many states to enact shield laws to protect journalists and to help ensure that the public receives information so important in a democracy. I sincerely hope that now Congress will move forward on federal shield legislation so that other journalists will not have to face imprisonment for doing their jobs.

“In the days, weeks and months ahead, The New York Times Company will do all that we can to ensure Judy’s safety and continue to fight for the principles that led her to make a most difficult and honorable choice.”