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Open & Shut

A recent collection of funny, fascinating, nonsensical or just notable newsworthy quotations From the Summer 2006 issue of The News…

A recent collection of funny, fascinating, nonsensical or just notable newsworthy quotations

From the Summer 2006 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 40.

“If anyone here wants to imprison journalists, I invite them to spend some time in China, Cuba or North Korea and see whether they feel safer.”

– Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) during a May 26 House Intelligence Committee hearing on news organizations’ legal responsibilities when covering national security.

“We don’t have oral arguments to show people, the public, how we function.”

– Chief Justice John Roberts on cameras in the high court, in a July 14 Los Angeles Times story about the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference in Huntington Beach, Calif.

“I think oftentimes in the past, there’s no question, the executive branch has probably overdone it with respect to classification.”

– Vice President Dick Cheney in a June 19 speech at the National Press Club.

“I think journalism based on confidential sources is going to be done more carefully, more surgically – certainly more thoughtfully – than ever before, because this settlement raises, potentially, the cost of publishing or broadcasting a story based on confidential sources.”

– Media lawyer Bruce Sanford on the The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer June 5 after the Wen Ho Lee settlement.

“I would certainly argue that if the public wants to feel likes its government is being held accountable, that big business is being held accountable, and that wrongs are going to be exposed, then it’s going to need journalists who are going to be able to rely on confidential sources in certain circumstances, to be able to provide that information.”

– Mark Fainaru-Wada, one of two San Francisco Chronicle reporters who broke the BALCO stories on steroid use in professional sports in an interview published June 13 on truthdig.com.

“Keeping news sources confidential serves the public interest and their right to know the truth. Even if the sources violated their obligation to protect job secrets, a news reporter is allowed to keep the identity of the sources secret.”

– Tokyo High Court Judge Nobuo Akatsuka in a June 14 ruling that a Yomiuri Shimbun reporter’s refusal to disclose a news source should be allowed as a journalist’s right, as reported by Knight Ridder Tribune News Service.

“Any time public tax dollars are involved, the public has the right to see it. It’s that simple.”

– Allegheny County, Pa., Executive Dan Onorato in a KDKA-TV story about a community college’s failure to
make public its budget.

“The family has met and decided we would not abide by an FBI subpoena.”

– Kevin Anderson, son of the late journalist Jack Anderson, at a June 6 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the FBI seeking the elder Anderson’s papers.

“I’m pretty sure Dad would have thought that the First Amendment is the only standard needed.”

– Kevin Anderson of his father Jack Anderson in response to a June 6 question from Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) about
whether Congress should make clear that the daily workings of journalists do not violate the Espionage Act.

“So here you are, especially in the Pentagon. Some guy tells you something. He says that’s a national security matter. Well, you’re supposed to tremble and get scared and it never, almost never means the security of the national government. [It’s] more likely to mean the security or the personal happiness of the guy who is telling you something.”

– Retired Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee in an interview with PBS’ Jim Lehrer aired June 19.

“I wholeheartedly agree that freedom of access to data about Government is so vital that only the national security, not the desire of public officials or private citizens, should determine when it must be withheld or restricted.”

– Rep. Donald Rumsfeld (R-Ill.) in a July 11, 1966, letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson on the occasion of the Freedom of Information Act’s birth. FOIA turned 40 in July.