SF Chronicle: Blogger jailed for defying grand jury sets record / He’s U.S. journalist imprisoned longest in contempt of court. Josh Wolf, a blogger who refused to give a videotape of a San Francisco anarchist protest to a federal grand jury, achieves an unwanted distinction today, when he becomes the longest-imprisoned journalist for contempt of court in U.S. history.
It is difficult to know which party to hold in the most serious contempt here — but Josh Wolf isn’t in the running. Candidates:
- The federal prosecutors for the Bush administration, collaborating with the San Francisco Police Department, who blew away California’s journalism-shield law that would likely — and properly — have protected Wolf from having to turn over his video out-takes.
- San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who’s apparently been too busy with personal problems to care about California law and a free press. Ditto the SF County Board of Supervisors. Is there any record of these folks asking even basic questions, or do they like what happened? Has anyone asked them?
- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is equally unconcerned the the federal government’s unilateral overriding of California statues.
- The state’s traditional media organizations, who’ve persistently howled at the moon over the threatened jailing of two Chronicle reporters but with few exceptions, such as today’s story, have paid far too scant notice to an imprisonment that has even greater implications for the practice of journalism. Nothing new there, given the traditional media folks’ unconcern when Apple went after online journalists, a silence that only ended when it looked as though a court ruling might threaten the big guys, too.
This jailing is a scandal, and it gets worse every day Wolf remains in jail.
(Corrected to reflect that San Francisco does not have a City Council.)