Paul Jacob

Years ago, working for a pro-term limits group, I was asked by a reporter what was meant by a clumsily-worded statement in our press packet announcing that we “provide information about term limits for the media.”

The reporter was fixated on the phrase “term limits for the media” and, well, sorta panicked. Term limits are popular, after all. I jovially explained that “for” people laboring in the media we would “provide information” — that is, studies and press releases and backgrounders and stuff . . . about term limits for politicians.

In other words: relax, reporters; we weren’t launching a campaign to limit your tenure on the beat.

Sometimes, when witnessing political agendas getting in the way of decent journalism, I recall the specific discomfort of that one reporter to the very idea of term-limiting the media, extrapolate that state of mind, and . . . enjoy.

Two months ago, I noted in my Common Sense e-letter that much of the news media and left-of-center political punditry didn’t much seem to care about their ability — or the public’s right — to see the tens of thousands of Fast & Furious documents Attorney General Eric Holder still refuses to make public.

Whether Congress’s request for documents is purely partisan and politically motivated or completely justifiable on the merits, how does a journalist not want to see the material? Whether one thinks the information will be of little import or amount to an ammo dump full of smoking guns, how does a reporter not want to see it? Whether the gun-walking operations operated by the federal government were mostly effective police work or the stupidest arming of one’s enemies ever imagined, how does a columnist not want to see the actual emails and memos and other documents associated with a program that went so badly astray . . . or with any cover-up?

We need to find out the facts. The public has a right to know.

So we can make better decisions regarding our government going forward.

Isn’t all this loosely associated with the purpose of “journalism”?

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.