Freedom of the Press & BALCO

All this talk about forcing the two reporters to reveal their sources in the BALCO case raises the issue yet again – we have a free press until push comes to shove and the government gets involved. First off this case is hardly a matter of national security – like leaking a CIA op’s name – so why does the court feel so compelled to try and force Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru Wada to testify?
To sum up the book “Game of Shadows” & the ensuing BALCO scandal: Athletes cheat! They shoot themselves full of all kinds of crazy drugs and ignore terrifying side effects in an effort to shave .07 off their 100 yard dash time or hit 70 home runs. In the case of MLB, Bud Selig and the rest of the league intentionally stuck their heads as far into the sand as they could because “juicers” like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and later Barry Bonds (who only started juicing after he got jealous of all the attention Big Mac was getting) SAVED baseball. Period. MLB KNEW these guys were cheating, heck everybody knew McGwire looked like a circus freak, Sosa had been caught corking his bats, Bonds literally turned into The Incredible Hulk overnight and suddenly had his best years in his mid-to-late 30s, when 99.999999 percent of other MLB players start showing their age and slow down.

Back to my point: The court has no business trying to make the reporters do the government’s work for them. The government can’t put together a good enough case to prove Bonds and everybody else are lying under sworn oath, so they want the newspaper guys to bail them out and come forward with the smoking gun source that will make their case. Plain and simple.

As a reporter too I know sources are everything, and if you grant someone anonymity and then break it, you can kiss your credibility and probably your career good-bye.

Look, we already know that journalism – especially the print media – is far from a 100 percent accurate and ethical business. Just look at the New York Times admitting one its reporters made up stories, or the countless examples of guys like Mitch Albom, Bob Greene and others embellishing or flat out lying in their reporting and quoting of people, some of whom never actually existed. This stuff happens all the time! But I think in the case of Williams and Fainaru Wada, they did their homework and then some, and then had the documents/etc. to prove their case against BALCO, Barry and everybody else in the book. It’s not like they took some random quotes from an anonymous source and made a book out of it.

Unfortunately these guys are probably going to have to go to jail to protect their source, but that too is far from unheard of.

Okay, what do people think? Am I too clouded as a fellow journalist to rant about this eloquently? Or am I right on?


One comment

  1. Thomas

    I have to agree with you 100%. I don’t see the use in even getting them to give up the source(s).. They just got information that the gov’t already knew and made it more public… All this is going to do is take some of the spot light off the gov’ts inability to convict Bonds.

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