The Muck Stops Here

Joel Pett is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist of the Lexington Herald-Leader. His work also appears in USA Today.

Report the story, don't become the story. So says Journalism 101. But not Journalism 2005. The Justice Department is playing hardball with reporters Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, threatening hard time over leakage of a CIA operative's name, even though neither writer named her in hard copy.

In the spooky world outside espionage, a White House press gallery regular was both friend and faux. James Guckert, a.k.a. Jeff Gannon, served up softballs for two years, until reporters peeked beneath his press pass and stripped bare his secret identity.

This stuff comes against the backdrop of Fortress Big Media under assault, and in the wake of revelations of government agencies spreading cash-and-carry-water contracts to friendly talking heads. So far, I don't know of any cartoonists taking under-the-light-table deals to draw anything other than our regular paychecks.

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