Norman Pearlstine's Book on Plame Case and the 'War over Sources' Coming in July: Here Is A Preview

By Mitchell, Greg | Editor & Publisher, April 4, 2007 | Go to article overview

Norman Pearlstine's Book on Plame Case and the 'War over Sources' Coming in July: Here Is A Preview


Mitchell, Greg, Editor & Publisher


As editor-in-chief at Time Inc., Norman Pearlstine was drawn deeply into the Plame/CIA leak case when Time reporter Matthew Cooper refused to divulge the names of his two sources. Cited for contempt, and on the brink of going to jail along with Judith Miller of The New York Times, Cooper agreed to give up the names after Pearlstine relented on turning over internal material to the prosecutor. Pearlstine then was attacked by the Times, and some on his own staff, and villified by many others in the media.

Now he has written a book about that "firestorm" (as the book's publicity release terms it), and the larger question of sourcing, to be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in July. It's called "Off The Record: The Press, the Government, and the War over Anonymous Sources."

E&P received a copy of the galleys on Tuesday. Inserted was a photocopy of a final chapter: an account of the March 7, 2007, verdict that found I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby guilty on four felony counts.

Pearlstine, now a senior adviser to the Carlyle Group, lays out in close detail every step of the legal and journalistic debate.

The book opens with Pearlstine standing up to Time Warner Inc. CEO Dick Parsons, when Parsons in 2004 tells him that he wants Cooper to give up his sources -- if all legal appeals fail. Pearlstine opposes that idea. But less than a year later, Pearlstine calls Parsons to tell him that he will comply with an order to turn over all internal files requested by a grand jury.

Parsons apparently expressed surprise, adding that he was just coming around to Pearlstine's position. The book then becomes an explanation of why the editor did that, amid a much broader discussion of issues surrounding confidential sources, past (Pentagon Papers, Watergate, the Farber case) and present.

Pearlstine explains later that Time's predicament was much different than that faced by The New York Times, which did not receive a subpoena for internal documents. But Pearlstine had also come to understand, as he writes, that the use of confidential sources had been misused by the press, undermining credibility often.

One side plot in the book involves Time vs. …

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