Media

The WikiLeaks revolution continues

Recent press reports about the continuing adventures of WikiLeaks assure: 1) that this phenomenon will not go away anytime soon; 2) that the definition and role of media is changing in warp speed; 3) and that the virtue of whistleblowers is in question.

1. That the Wiki phenomenon isn’t going away is clear. The latest news reports are that Wiki is about to publicize thousands of private records of the Swiss bank Julius Baer, embarrassing, and possibly incriminating, politicians, business leaders, “pillars of society.” Wiki leader Julian Assange claims this new trove of secret documents will “educate society” about money-laundering by worldwide banks and their ultra-wealthy depositors.

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Chris Christie, Mike Bloomberg, Haley Barbour have a very bad December

It has been a tough December for media darlings in American politics.

Let’s give three examples:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) faces a barrage of criticism from New Jersey voters for choosing to continue vacationing in sunny Florida while voters were deluged with snow, ice and blizzard. His Republican lieutenant governor was in Mexico during the blizzard, visiting an ill relative. No fault in that, but the governor should have been at his desk dealing with the blizzard and not engaging in leisure, entertainment, sporting and bathing pursuits while New Jersey voters were suffering the snow.

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Responsible reporting

There's a possible expectation of "accountability journalism" that includes fact-checking of interviewees and realtime challenge of misstatements. That also includes coverage of important but buried stories, wherein mainstream media is called to task for lack of coverage, etc.

The best recent example of this was the last episode of "The Daily Show," where accountability journalism was executed brilliantly. This could have a dramatic effect on American politics, and out here, we feel we sure need it.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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Secrets

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.

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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.

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