Thursday, October 13, 2005

Invasion riffs on sources


There's something subversive about the ABC television series Invasion, and it's not just the plotline.

As I've previously noted, the writers seem to have something to say about the condition of the fourth estate.

Last night's episode had another commentary about journalists and journalism, this time related to ethics.

Sheriff Tom Underlay -- who may be mixed up in a conspiracy -- is discussing with TV reporter Larkin Varon a secret Air Force recovery operation he showed her in the swampland outside of town. The military's public cover story is that they are helping clean-up operations after a sewage treatment plant was damaged in a hurricane -- a plant whose closing Larkin covered a month earlier. The military's "secret" cover story is that they are recovering an aircraft that crashed in the hurricane. But Underlay and Varon saw personnel in containment suits loading steel cases into a truck by a swamp in the middle of the night.


SHERIFF TOM UNDERLAY: You really want to push this thing?

LARKIN VARON: Yes! If the military is working on something secret down here, I want to know about it.

UNDERLAY: OK. But if you end up with a story, you just can't tell anyone that I helped you get it. Not even your husband.

VARON: Russell already knows you helped me.

UNDERLAY: Larkin. What I showed you was highly confidential.

VARON: Yeah, from the news! I didn't think you were talking about my family!

UNDERLAY: From everyone! I went out on a limb for you. You want to be a good wife, talk to your husband. But if you want to be a good reporter, talk to me. Just don't tell anyone you're doing it.


The timing of the exchange in relation to real-world events is odd, coming after Judith Miller has been released from prison after previously refusing to reveal a source in the Valerie Plame affair -- a source alleged to be U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.


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