Reporter Toobin Lashes Out At Reporters Who Use 'Stolen' Documents; Leaves Out His Own History Of Doing The Same
from the it's-just-not-civilized-to-do-real-reporting dept
The unavoidable sense one gets — not just from Carr's piece, but from all the other responses by Gregory and others to the NSA story and to WikiLeaks, and even to events like Reddit's attempt to contribute to the reporting around the Boston bombings — is of an "us vs. them" mentality, in which bloggers like Greenwald or more extreme personalities like Julian Assange are treated like invaders storming the barricades of the journalism establishment. As Carr puts it:Carr also has this interesting exchange with Toobin, who has been among the angriest haters against Snowden, Greenwald and the rest:“The larger sense I get from the criticism directed at Mr. Assange and Mr. Greenwald is one of distaste — that they aren’t what we think of as real journalists. Instead, they represent an emerging Fifth Estate composed of leakers, activists and bloggers who threaten those of us in traditional media. They are, as one says, not like us.”
Mr. Toobin agrees that an important debate has been joined, but says no story, no matter how big, justifies journalists’ abetting illegal acts, saying, “Journalists are not above the law.”That seems especially ironic, given that just last week it came out that Toobin himself has been accused of taking a ton of classified documents for a book he was writing:
“The Jane Mayers, Sy Hershes and Walter Pincuses have all done superb work for decades without the rampant lawlessness that was behind these stories,” he said, adding later, “I’ve never heard any of those journalists endorsing the wholesale theft of thousands of classified government records.”
In journalist Michael Isikoff’s book, Uncovering Clinton: A Reporter’s Story, he described how Toobin was caught “having absconded with large loads of classified and grand-jury related documents from the office of Iran-Contra independent counsel Lawrence Walsh” in 1991:Read that again, then go back and read Toobin's whining to David Carr. And try not to choke back the laughter. Toobin isn't upset that documents were taken as a part of journalism, since it appears that he, himself, had no problem with that. He's upset that it's used in a way that he doesn't like.
Toobin, it turned out, had been using his tenure in Walsh’s office to secretly prepare a tell-all book about the Iran-contra case; the privileged documents, along with a meticulously kept private diary (in which the young Toobin, a sort of proto-Linda Tripp, had been documenting private conversations with his unsuspecting colleagues) were to become his prime bait to snare a book deal. Toobin’s conduct enraged his fellow lawyers in Walsh’s office, many of whom viewed his actions as an indefensible betrayal of the public trust. Walsh at one point even considered pressing for Toobin’s indictment.
Toobin was “petrified” that he would have to face criminal charges for stealing information for a rather dubious book deal. According to Isikoff, he either “feared dismissal and disgrace, or simply wanted to move on.” Toobin “resigned from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn (where he had gone to work after Walsh) and abandoned the practice of law.”
It is true that there are differences between many of those old school journalists and the new school who are breaking all of this news. The old school tried to buddy up with government sources to get their story. The new school would rather get the story. Apparently that upsets the old school, because it makes their