From the "Hindsight May Be 20/20 but Legal Bills Come in Bigger Numbers" Department, Time editor Norman Pearlstine says Karl Rove's tip about Valerie Plame probably wasn't important enough to warrant Matt Cooper's promise of confidentiality.
In a Court TV panel discussion on the Plame case Tuesday, Pearlstine said: "A 90-second conversation with the president's spin doctor, who was trying to undermine a whistle-blower, probably didn't deserve confidential source status."
The problem, Pearlstine said, is that reporters who get information "on background" frequently believe that they're bound to protect the confidentiality of their sources even when they're not. Floyd Abrams, who represents the New York Times' Judy Miller in the Plame case, said that there's another problem facing Washington reporters: They often have to promise confidentiality before they know what a source can deliver. Often, Abrams said, "the information ... is not worth anything."
Would that we knew that with respect to Abrams' client.