Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The disconnected ends are separate from, but still don't justify, the means: Hacking Sarah Palin's e-mail.

I'm a firm believer in the concept and right of privacy.

I was outraged with the patriot act, an act that Republicans still support today, despite the civil libertarians in their base (who seemed to be ignored).

Today I was outraged to hear about Sarah Palin's e-mail being hacked. As much as I disagree with her politics, and disagree with the fact that she was circumventing FOIA by using and encouraging her staff to use a private e-mail carrier as a shadow address to conduct state business, the perpetrators of this are as guilty as those who open other people's mail delivered by the USPS or of identity thieves. And for that they should be punished to the appropriate extent that the law allows.

But my outrage stops there. The fact that such documents were turned over to the press - while obtained reprehensibly - does not constitute a reason for the press to simply ignore what has been placed before them.

The press, believe it or not*, has an obligation to report on verifiable facts and information - and unfortunately nothing is more verifiable than that which is written in the first person. I know the press will receive a lot of flak for covering anything in the e-mails, but in a free and open society they have no greater calling or obligation or responsibility than to keep the people informed and hold those in power - no matter who they are - accountable.

*This is something that's getting harder and harder to do with the consolidation and conglomeration of the fourth estate under corporate moguls and the spiraling out of control of the 24hrs news day. I suppose we're getting back to 19th century basics and yellow journalism, but that's a shame.

Perhaps I'm waxing wistful, but I stand by an assertion made earlier this year when Tim Russert died that an element of what journalism is supposed to be about is now gone.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A group of people who may not have honourable intentions, broke into an email account, "discovered" something that looks bad for a potential leader, then "reports" what they "find" on a website for the rest of the world to see. The only verifiable part of this news story is that a personal email account that had been used by a potential national leader was cracked. Until there is verifiable evidence that any of those messages were sent then there is no more to the story at this time. If I did not know any better the whole episode seems like a play from the SC political play book.