The reporter's privilege is a means to an end, not the end in itself. It exists to serve the public's right to know. And yet in this case, as in so many others in recent years, it's been used to obscure the truth, spin the facts, serve the powerful to the detriment of the public.
To pretend that motives don't matter, that all sources are equal, that it doesn't matter if a source lies or uses the reporter as a cover for unethical behavior, is to devalue the principle until it has no meaning. Apparently, many of the elite media are so "entangled" with their sources and so inured to dirty politics that they can't see this.
For the press to shield immensely powerful individuals from being responsible for these actions stands the entire principle underlying the reporter's grant of confidentiality on its head. The point of it is to allow people to criticize their government without fear of professional reprisals, not so that powerful government officials can discredit their critics without fear of public reprisals.
Why do we have to keep repeating this obvious lesson? Because corrupt simpletons like Woodward, Miller, Cohen and their editors absolutely refuse to acknowledge and admit it.