The lawyers for Scooter Libby made a bizarre argument - at least to my ears - for why the letters attesting to Libby’s character, written to the judge in his perjury case, should be kept out of the public eye: “the real possibility that these letters, once released, would be published on the Internet and their authors discussed, even mocked, by bloggers.”


Excuse me?!


Yes, as absurd as it sounds, this was the argument they tried to make, as described in a New York Times’ story this morning — an argument predictably ignored by the judge. The piece then details some of the ways in which the letters - from Henry Kissinger, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, among many others - were indeed mocked.


Critics of the blogosphere often give the impression that they don’t think people thought on their own before the Internet existed. In the only defense of the lawyers’ position, the Times gets Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford to sound off. He says that in the past material such as these letters would be available only “in the dusty courthouse file,” and we should think about whether that’s where they should stay.


But in the past, in the age before blogs, wouldn’t enterprising journalists have gained access to them as well? They might only have had their newspapers as a place to print them, but would that have made for any less “mocking.” The only difference is that it would only take place in our heads and at dinner conversations — and not out in the world for anyone to see. Maybe that’s what’s so annoying to the likes of Kissinger, et al.

Gal Beckerman is a former staff writer at CJR.