Wiki, IV

Whatever else he has accomplished, Julian Assange through WikiLeaks has opened for examination important questions about the new journalism and the appropriate use of the Internet. Is Wiki a publisher? Is it practicing journalism? Does it create more problems of invasion of privacy than transform an overly secret society to one more open and thus more democratic?

"WikiLeaks changes everything,” Christian Caryl wrote recently in The New York Review of Books. The sheer volume of its uncurated disclosures of secret information of government and business is unprecedented. Caryl concluded that he didn’t “see coherently articulated morality, or immorality, at work here at all; what I see is an amoral, technocratic void.” One’s view of WikiLeaks may vary among generations for that very reason — the younger being more sympathetic to Assange’s views. My older generation sees the younger’s downloading music and movies as stealing from the Internet, and many also see Wiki's disclosures as theft — dangerous theft at that, as it might unnecessarily hurt people through its indiscriminate use.


Hi-yo, Fred Foy

I am absorbed in nostalgia. A habitual obituary reader, my eye caught one today that I might have missed, so remote was the name, Fred Foy. The 89-year-old Foy was the voice of the Lone Ranger on radio in the 1930s, when I was a boy and radio was THE medium of entertainment. His stentorian voice intoning, "A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty, ‘Hi-yo Silver, away!’ ” each night took my young imagination to exciting places beyond my personal world in small-town New Jersey. Foy led listeners to places where television never could take its viewers because one watching isn’t using the same muscles of imagination required for radio.


Wiki: The saga continues

Often it is the case that the protagonists of precedential civil liberties issues are questionable characters. There are more Escobedos than Martin Luther Kings in the pantheon of personalities whose names symbolize important constitutional issues. Julian Assange is the most recent case in point. Assange leads a weird life-on-the-run, and is a hero to some while an outlaw to many. Like many notorious figures, he provokes the law and generates distracting side stories like the questionable rape claims in Sweden. But Assange’s leaks are causing commentators to revisit our government’s secrecy laws, and this is good.


Fox News hears from Al Gore

As readers of The Hill and some other news organizations know, former Vice President Al Gore has now ripped into Fox News after a leaked internal e-mail from within Fox led Gore and global warming advocates to charge that Fox News coverage is biased on the issue.

Equally interesting, a new poll from highly respected World Public Opinion finds many Americans believe false information about major events, and a higher percentage of misinformation is believed by those who regularly watch Fox News, compared to other news outlets.


Update: Who’s being truthier, Bartlett or Perino?

This morning on Fox News, former Bush White House spokeswoman Dana Perino refuted Dan Bartlett’s claim that the Bush tax increases were designed to be a “trap” for Democrats.

In response to a question about Bartlett’s comments, she told the hosts of “Fox and Friends”: “If the Democrats think this is a trap, this is one they fell for and is one of their own making.”

So, who is being truthier, or who are we to believe?

For the original post, see here.

David Di Martino is CEO of Blue Line Strategic Communications Inc. The views expressed in this blog are his and do not necessarily represent Blue Line’s. Follow David: @bluelinedd.



Two recent front-page stories defined the important crosscurrents at play in our government’s policies surrounding secrecy and confidentiality.

The government’s law enforcement work detecting and arresting an American terrorist in Oregon last week was impressive. Not only was a horrible public tragedy avoided, but an international terrorist organization was infiltrated and its plans were thwarted. It was law enforcement at its best, in the confounding and shadowy world of terrorism. The FBI worked secretly, as it must in such situations, with anonymous tips and electronic surveillance. All to be applauded.


Todd Palin and Desperate Housewives

The first thing that struck me when I watched “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” was the music. The first few tinkly bars were strangely reminiscent of “Desperate Housewives” and I wondered briefly if the show was going to be a spoof about the former Alaska governor.

Then I noticed how she kept bolstering her silent husband’s self-esteem, with comments about how supportive he is of her public role, and praising everything he did from fishing to shimmying up a rock like a mountain goat.


Defending Olbermann and Hannity

Is it possible to defend Keith Olbermann and Sean Hannity at the same time?
Yes — if they agree on a common principle. And in this case, though they both may deny it, they should agree on this principle: Both of them, as openly partisan hosts (Olbermann a liberal Democrat and Hannity a conservative Republican) should have the right to make donations to candidates or causes they believe in.
In fact, Fox has no problem with Hannity making political contributions because management makes no pretense that Fox’s evening shows are objective news-reporting programs that should be held to journalistic rules of political neutrality. Fox makes a distinction between its news organization — including such widely respected national political reporters as Carl Cameron, Jim Angel and Wendell Golar — and its political evening shows.


Keith Olbermann rises from the dead!

He’s back! Tuesday night. But the big question of the day remains: Should MSNBC have suspended Keith Olbermann in the first place?

And the big answer of the day is: Hell, no!

Look, I do think the best policy is for paid performers on radio and television not to make any political contributions. That, in fact, was the rule at CNN when I worked there, as co-host of “Crossfire.” And, believe me, as many other TV and radio hosts will admit, that’s not necessarily a burdensome policy. Let me tell you, it saved me a lot of money! Because it gave me a good excuse not to write a check.


Who’s afraid of Eliot Spitzer? Perry berated

In newly reelected Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s first TV interview, he was given the same rough treatment Rand Paul was when he was berated by Rachel Maddow and the same Sarah Palin was when she was attacked and mocked by Tina Fey, David Letterman, Katie Couric and many others.

Welcome to the realm of the winged monkeys. It was a telling moment: The thing they instinctively feared in Sarah Palin and Rand Paul they find again in Rick Perry. But it is much worse. This time it is real. Rick Perry is a master. Everything the Tea Party said and did these last two years takes shape and form in Perry’s reelection.