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Will Libby Conviction Mean More Reporter Subpoenas?

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Will Libby Conviction Mean More Reporter Subpoenas?

Article excerpt

Will today's conviction of former White House Aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby on multiple federal counts, thanks in part to the testimony of numerous reporters, spark an increase in efforts to force reporter testimony in the future? Those involved in the case and the related journalistic battles offer mixed reactions.

Walter Pincus, a Washington Post reporter who testified that Libby was one of his sources for the Plame information after Libby released him from confidentiality, said the case had not affected his dealings with sources. "My relationship with sources hasn't changed a bit," he said.

But when asked how the conviction might impact future reporter subpoenas, he said "we have to wait and see."

George Freeman, assistant general counsel for The New York Times, which saw former reporter Judith Miller and current reporter David Sanger testify, did not believe the verdict would have such a negative impact on future reporter subpoenas. "I don't think the conviction really affects the lay of the land," he told E&P this afternoon.

But Lucy Dalglish, executive director of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the prosecution's success in convicting Libby likely means more reporter subpoenas in the future. "For me, it means more litigation and prosecutors are going to think it is good to use journalists as witnesses," she said. "That is going to result in even more subpoenas. That is not a good thing. I'm concerned about this."

Bob Steele, a senior ethics instructor at The Poynter Institute, echoed Dalglish's thoughts. …

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