A Virginia judge has ordered the columnist and his newspaper, The Times, to disclose the identities of three confidential sources for a column he wrote about the Anthrax attacks in 2001. The man who became Ã¢â‚¬Å“a person of interestÃ¢â‚¬? in the case, Dr. Steven Hatfill, is suing the paper for defamation. He claims a series of columns written by Kristof suggested he was responsible for the attacks that killed five people and seriously scared the crap out of yourÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s truly.
Mr. Kristof has declined to name the sources but Ã¢â‚¬Å“the judge ruled that the laws of Virginia applied and that under the stateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s law, reporters have only a qualified privilege to decline to name their sources that may be outweighed by other factors,Ã¢â‚¬? The Times reports.
Kristof, who was named one of the seven most fascinating people in ScarsdaleÃ¢â‚¬â€along with his wife, TimesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ journalist Sheryl WuDunnÃ¢â‚¬â€by Scarsdale Magazine, and has won two Pulitzers for his incredible reporting from overseas, originally wrote about a scientist he referred to as Mr. Z who had become the main focus of the governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s investigation. Later, he acknowledged that Mr. Z was indeed Dr. Hatfill.
The Times is appealing the decision. But the question is: Could Kristof be thrown in prison ala his former colleague, Judith Miller if he refuses to comply? And if he becomes the second major Times’ journo to be forced to reveal his sources this year, what does that say about the state of press freedom in the country today?