Off The Record: The Press, the Government, and the War over Anonymous Sources

Off The Record The Press the Government and the War over Anonymous Sources When Norman Pearlstine as editor in chief of Time Inc agreed to give prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald a reporter s notes of a conversation with a confidential source he was vilified for betraying the fr

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When Norman Pearlstine as editor in chief of Time Inc agreed to give prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald a reporter s notes of a conversation with a confidential source, he was vilified for betraying the freedom of the press But in this hard hitting inside story, Pearlstine shows that Plamegate was not the clear case it seemed to be and that confidentiality has become aWhen Norman Pearlstine as editor in chief of Time Inc agreed to give prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald a reporter s notes of a conversation with a confidential source, he was vilified for betraying the freedom of the press But in this hard hitting inside story, Pearlstine shows that Plamegate was not the clear case it seemed to be and that confidentiality has become a weapon in the White House s war on the press, a war fought with the unwitting complicity of the press itself Watergate and the publication of the Pentagon Papers are the benchmark incidents of government malfeasance exposed by a fearless press But as Pearlstine explains with great clarity and brio, the press s hunger for a new Watergate has made reporters vulnerable to officials who use confidentiality to get their message out, even if it means leaking state secrets and breaking the law Prosecutors appointed to investigate the government have investigated the press instead news organizations such as The New York Times have defended the principle of confidentiality at all costs implicitly putting themselves above the law Meanwhile, the use of unnamed sources has become common in everything from celebrity weeklies to the so called papers of record What is to be done Pearlstine calls on Congress to pass a federal shield law protecting journalists from the needless intrusions of government at the same time, he calls on the press to name its sources whenever possible Off the Record is a powerful argument with the vividness and narrative drive of the best long form journalism it is sure to spark controversy among the people who run the government and among the people who tell their stories Norman Pearlstine, editor in chief of Time Inc from 1995 to 2005, was previously the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal he trained as a lawyer before making his career as a journalist He is now a senior adviser to the Carlyle Group He lives in Manhattan When Norman Pearlstine as editor in chief of Time Inc agreed to give prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald a reporter s notes of a conversation with a confidential source, he was vilified for betraying the freedom of the press But in this hard hitting inside story, Pearlstine shows that Plamegate was not the clear case it seemed to be and that confidentiality has become a weapon in the White House s war on the press, a war fought with the unwitting complicity of the press itself Watergate and the publication of the Pentagon Papers are the benchmark incidents of government malfeasance exposed by a fearless press But as Pearlstine explains with great clarity and brio, the press s hunger for a new Watergate has made reporters vulnerable to officials who use confidentiality to get their message out, even if it means leaking state secrets and breaking the law Prosecutors appointed to investigate the government have investigated the press instead news organizations such as The New York Times have defended the principle of confidentiality at all costs implicitly putting themselves above the law Meanwhile, the use of unnamed sources has become common in everything from celebrity weeklies to the so called papers of record Pearlstine calls on Congress to pass a federal shield law protecting journalists from the needless intrusions of government at the same time, he calls on the press to name its sources whenever possible Off the Record is a powerful argument with the vividness and narrative drive of the best long form journalism it is sure to spark controversy among the people who run the government and among the people who tell their stories Mr Pearlstine s central argument is compelling, particularly his contention that when a news outlet has fought a First Amendment case all the way to the Supreme Court and lost, continued resistance amounts to defying the entire legal system, a choice that should be reserved for truly extraordinary causes No one is above the law and that includes publishers, he writes William Powers, The New York Times Back in the summer of 2005 it was no fun being Norman Pearlstine As editor in chief of Time Inc he had been battling Patrick J Fitzgerald, the tenacious special prosecutor investigating the Valerie Wilson case Mr Pearlstine took the case all the way to the Supreme Court, which early that summer declined to review it Having thus exhausted all legal remedies, he faced a stark choice He could continue resisting meaning jail time for Mr Cooper and costly fines for Time Inc or wave the white flag In a decision he described at the time as the most difficult I have made in than 36 years in the news business, Mr Pearlstine gave in, turning over Mr Cooper s notes against the reporter s wishes and other files Mr Fitzgerald had requested The media class was stunned Off the Record is Mr Pearlstine s effort to defend his choice This is no easy trick Media bigs are not a very sympathetic class to begin with And despite the professional and social price Mr Pearlstine paid for the decision, by complying with the subpoenas it really did appear he had taken the easy way out, sparing himself and his company a lot of trouble and expense Along the way he traces the evolution of Time Inc s legal strategy, which sounds boring but isn t His many years as a reporter and editor for The Wall Street Journal are evident in the clean, engaging way he tells such back room tales as his decision to dump the renowned First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams who, in addition to representing Time Inc and Mr Cooper, also represented Judith Miller, then a reporter for The Times, in the Wilson affair Pearlstine s central argument is compelling, particularly his contention that when a news outlet has fought a First Amendment case all the way to the Supreme Court and lost, continued resistance amounts to defying the entire legal system, a choice that should be
  • [PDF] ✓ Unlimited ✓ Off The Record: The Press, the Government, and the War over Anonymous Sources : by Norman Pearlstine ✓
    Norman Pearlstine
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    Posted by:Norman Pearlstine
    Published :2018-03-12T04:25:31+00:00

827 Comment

  • Chris says:

    This was really hard to get through. I couldn't finish it. It was two years ago, but it was pretty dry.

  • Maduck831 says:

    “Our case developed against the backdrop of the Bush administration’s war on the press. The administration has produced video news releases that masquerade as stories, has paid columnists to spout the party line, and has questioned the press’s check-and-balance function in society.” (xiv) “Although my decision to hand over Matt Cooper’s notes, thus revealing his confidential sources, has divided reporters, editors, lawyers, legislators, and the public, it is, nonetheless, my hope tha [...]

  • Socraticgadfly says:

    Norman Pearlstine was until 2005 editor-in-chief of Time, Inc the entire stable of Time's magazines, from Time itself through Fortune, Sports Illustrated and many others on to People (which Pearlstine says often does the best job in handling sources) and more.As editor-in-chief at that time, he had the ultimate call on how to handle special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's subpoena of both Time writer Matt Cooper and Time, Inc followed by Judge Thomas Hogan's civil contempt finding when Time, Inc [...]

  • MisterFweem says:

    First of all, Sorry Mr. Pearlstine. Bought this book for $1 at Dollar Tree, so you'll probably not see much of anything from the sale. But I can give a positive review:In Off the Record, Norman Pearlstine makes a passionate yet reasoned plea for a change on how the government, press, and readers regard anonymous, confidential and off the record sources used in investigative journalism.For the government, he cautions against insisting everything said be "on background" and that nearly every docum [...]

  • Lobstergirl says:

    Among other things, Pearlstine opines about Patrick Fitzgerald and the CIA leak investigation. The book is most notable for the email exchange between Patrick Fitzgerald and Matthew Cooper's lawyer about Cooper's nudity.

  • Brian Stillman says:

    For a lawyer and journalist and editor, Norm churns out a pretty sludgelike product covering all those bases. The author photo chills me. He and Steve Forbes could form The Duo of Unnatural Creepy Smiling.

  • Tom Schulte says:

    Much more interesting and enlightening than I expected. This well-placed journalist offers educational insight into the intricacies of dealing with sources.

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