Shorter Edward Wasserman: If you don't support whistleblowers, can you call youself a journalist?

The world's most powerful news media agreed, and turned Manning's leaks into riveting stories. (Just this month The Guardian and the BBC broke a sensational 15-month story about sectarian death squads in Iraq; it was prompted by reports he provided in which shocked U.S. soldiers described seeing Iraqi detainees who'd been tortured by their countrymen.)

But still, the media leave Manning to face his accusers in a tribunal that is barely public, and by and large the media that were his beneficiaries can't be bothered to staff the trial that will determine his fate.

He was a great source. His information was solid. The world's best news organizations believed it was of immense public value. So now he goes to jail, perhaps for life, and the media stand in silence?

The columnist who looks back from 40 years hence will have to squint hard to find reason to be inspired by the courage of today's media the way we still are by the media of that long-ago classical age.

Someone -- I've already forgotten who, of course -- raised a valid point ion Twitter the other day, which is that at the height of the Iraq War, Fox's Geraldo Rivera disclosed pending American troop movements (for which he profusely apologized). I'm not saying what Geraldo did merits his indictment, not at all -- but it was worse than anything that Manning, who faces a potential death penalty, is accused of.

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