Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Josh Wolf myth 2

Photo by Paul Chin

Writing the other day about Senator Feinstein's attempt at a federal shield law, the Chronicle's Debra Saunders on Josh Wolf:

What really frosts me is how many journalists and journalism organizations rejected [Senator]Feinstein's belief in "real reporters." It's a throwback to 2007 when The Chronicle and other news organs called blogger Josh Wolf, then 24, "the longest imprisoned journalist" in America. Was Wolf imprisoned? Yes. Unjustly? You bet; he didn't commit a crime. But he wasn't a journalist. He was a self-described artist, activist and anarchist who recorded a 2005 demonstration against the World Trade Organization at which a protester broke the skull of San Francisco police officer Peter Shields. Wolf was not a real reporter; he had no confidential-source agreement. He was an activist and an amateur who later became a real journalist when he was hired by a newspaper and had to adhere to professional standards.

Whether or not Wolf qualified as a reporter, as Saunders notes, he wasn't protecting a source: He was the source. He refused to give a federal Grand Jury a tape he made of an anarchist demonstration during which city cop Peter Shields had his skull fractured by his anarchist pals.

But city progressives, once the party line was set, circled the wagons in defense of Wolf: It was all supposedly about the alleged injustice to Wolf and his imaginary rights. The city's Democratic County Central Committee passed a resolution in support of Wolf without mentioning Shields.

Then District Attorney Kamala Harris wrote an op-ed for the Bay Guardian supporting Wolf, as if he was the real victim, with only an opaque reference to Shields: "Of course I believe crimes against police officers should be aggressively prosecuted." Then why not at least try to get the video to determine whether prosecution was required?

The SF Chronicle editorialized in support of Wolf (Free Josh Wolf) emphasizing his First Amendment rights with no mention of Shields.

The Josh Wolf myth 1

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