So the Cleveland Plain Dealer is sitting on two stories to protect a source in the wake of Judith Miller being jailed for refusing to name her source in the Plame affair.
Daily Pundit thinks this means the deed is already done:
If the Cleveland Plain Dealer is sitting on illegally leaked documents, then it has already committed whatever crime it’s worried about being charged with. If its fears have any real basis, the same lawyers who advised the paper not to publish the stories should have advised it also, agonizing in public over them might not be a good idea.
Well, no, actually. As is usually the case in stories like this, the Plain Dealer itself is probably not guilty of any crime. Their source, however, probably is guilty of violating a contractual confidentiality agreement or official secrecy law by talking to them or anonymously sending them some documents.
By not publishing the story, the Plain Dealer is ensuring that no investigation is launched to identify and punish their source. It’s usually this sort of investigation that leads to reporters being compelled in finger a secret source or go to jail for contempt. If nobody outside the newsroom knows what the story is about, there won’t be an investigation, and therefore no contempt charge for anyone at the Plain Dealer.
But Daily Pundit is right that talking about it in public is probably not a good idea.