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