The argument against ever outing sources is instrumental. Insiders won't leak to the press if they can't rely on a reporter's pledge of confidentiality, the argument goes, and so the public's interest in discovering wrongdoing ultimately won't be served. This is mostly humbug. As most modern presidents have discovered, leakers are a hardy breed. They act from various motives, of which unalloyed public-spiritedness is probably the rarest. Outing the Plame leakers wouldn't undermine the use of confidential sources. It would merely put leakers on notice that their right to lie and manipulate the press is not absolute and not sacred.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Irritating Confidante
John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.
My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee
Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?
Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?
Driving in Circles
The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.