Friday, October 28, 2005

Michael Kinsley points us to a compelling flaw in the rationale behind the Fitzgerald investigation today: Michael Kinsley doesn't understand it.

True, the Plame scandal is simple enough to be summarized in one sentence,1 but the devil is in the details. There are names and people and places - names like "Niger", which sounds very much like Nigeria and yet is not Nigeria - and people like "Scooter", which is the name of the Vice President's chief of staff and yet is also the name of a muppet. Will the muppet be indicted? If so, will the muppet himself be charged alone, or are the puppeteers who operate his mouth and limbs also under investigation? Was he voiced by Jim Henson, and if so, how will the Justice Department prosecute the dead? Sorting out these intricate questions of "who" and "what" would take a reporter, and Mr. Kinsley doesn't appear to know any of those.

Mr. Kinsley is also troubled by the impossible paradox of press freedom the Plame scandal presents. Should reporter-source privelege be an implied contract in which a journalist protects her source's identity in exchange for reliable information, or should it be an absolutist right wantonly abused by state officials to disinform the populace, crush their critics, and commit crimes from beyond the veil of a shield law? Mr. Kinsley can't quite decide.

The Medium Lobster could answer these questions, but that isn't the point. The point is that he shouldn't have to. Scandals should be accessible and easy to follow for all of us - even for someone like Mr. Kinsley, who was an editor of The New Republic and remains easily distracted by shiny things. America is meant to have a government of the people - and its scandals should be scandals of the people, too. Outing CIA agents, silencing war critics, covering for the false pretext of a false war - it's all too cerebral to have the kind of mass entertainment value that is the raison d'ĂȘtre of the American criminal justice system. Where's the heart, the soul, the semen-stained dress?

Don't worry, Mr. Kinsley - we'll work on getting you a proper, decent scandal with a proper, decent blowjob. After that there will be a big car chase and many flashing lights.

1. "White House staffers leaked a covert CIA agent's name to the press in an attempt to discredit a critic of the flawed intelligence used to support the Iraq War."
posted by the Medium Lobster at 10:09 AM



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