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Why the S.F. Chronicle writers don't deserve a free pass

It has recently been reported in the news that the two reporters for the San Francisco Chronicle, Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada are being threatened with jail time if they refuse to divulge the source who illegally leaked grand jury testimony from the BALCO case that implicated such baseball stars as Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds as having used illegal substances to improve their bodies for playing baseball.

The reporters, their editors, their lawyers, and other journalists are now screaming that such a threat is unfair.

I think their pleas are full of crap.

Regardless of what was accomplished by reporting the details that were leaked, these two reporters knew beforehand that leaking grand jury testimony was a crime. Not that the reporters are criminals, but the leaker of the information is. These reporters should have had the foresight to realize that printing this leaked testimony would likely lead them to the position they are in now -- reveal their source, or go to jail. By reporting the information, they accepted this risk, and took upon themselves the responsibility to do jail time if that was what was required of them.

Williams and Fainaru-Wada should be content with their fate of facing jail time, likening it as a small price to pay for the goal they accomplished, which was forcing Major League Baseball and the Players' Accociation to negotiate tougher rules and standards for drug testing.

The only person who can save them is the person who leaked the testimony to them. Much like the Valerie Plame case, if the source either comes forward or gives the reporters permission to divulge their source, then the reporters can be freed. But until then, journalistic ethics dictate that these two reporters pay the price they knew they'd be required to pay before they published the leaked grand jury testimony. <>

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