Friday, May 17, 2013

The outer boroughs of Little Whinging

I like watching MSNBC at night.  It's become a habit.

But I'm giving it up until this AP 'scandal' is over and done with. 

Because now comes word that ABC was played like a fiddle by a bunch of GOP Congressional staffers, and is ABC burning those sources?

Not on your Nellie.

As Pierce asks:  "Who do you really serve? The country, or the liars in your BlackBerries?"

The whole basis of the "sanctity" of the protection of the press under the 1st Amendment is that the press is the "fourth estate" which serves the public interest by keeping an eye on the other three estates of government.

And the argument now is the DOJ has damaged the AP's ability to conduct business (don't take my word for it, consult kindly Dr. Maddow) because who is going to call the AP with a hot tip if they think the phone records are gonna be searched?  How, in other words, can the Fourth Estate function if it is going to be so hobbled?

Pardon me if I don't weep for AP in this circumstance.  Let's say I'm a practicing lawyer and the DOJ decides I may be involved in a criminal investigation and they get my phone records.  Lawyers, like most modern professionals, live on their telephones.  If word gets out the DOJ is checking mine, how many clients might decide not to call me just because they don't want the DOJ seeing their number and wondering why they called me?  Do I have a 1st Amendment protection?

No.  Do I get people to go on cable TeeVee everynight, weeping and wailing about what this does to the 1st Amendment or my ability to do business?

Yeah, right.*

And where I might be sympathetic with such arguments, in light of ABC getting burned very badly, and apparently deciding access is STILL more important than the public need to know who's lying to us, I offer the whiners about the AP records search a nice cup of STFU.

'Cause nobody's above the law, and the 1st Amendment doesn't give the press any more privileges than the 2nd Amendment gives gun owners.

*Besides, as Lucy Dalglish at the journalism school at University of Maryland, College Park, told NPR this morning: 
"Technology is not your friend."

"If you have a source that you need to protect, stay off the Internet, stay off the phone, don't use your credit card," she explains.

Instead, she says, talk to your sources like spies do on TV — on a park bench, face to face.
There; was that so hard?


  1. Ah, you see this is the media shouting about the government spying on the media. Depends on whose ox is gored, eh?

    I don't understand how anyone thinks anything spoken or written on a technological device is private. Maybe what I say face to face to my husband in my house is private, but am I certain that tiny video cameras are not hidden in every room in my house? Since I'm one of the little people, I doubt that bugging my house is worth the time and effort by any entity, government or other, but I'm not at 100%.

    I watch MSNBC only occasionally now, because, more and more, it seems not really worth the time I spend there. Sorry, MSNBC guys; it's not that I don't like you personally, but there it is.

  2. Ah, you see this is the media shouting about the government spying on the media. Depends on whose ox is gored, eh?

    Pretty much the reaction of anyone subjected to a criminal investigation, isn't it? "But...I'M not a crook! I don't deserve to be treated this way!"

  3. I'm with Grandmere Mimi. I like Chris Hayes, the few times I saw his show I liked it even better than Rachel Maddow's, but I'd rather read the news than get it more slowly and with commercials on TV. They leave so much out to put it on TV. Fewer production values, more news value, thank you.

    As I pointed out, when it was Judith Miller covering up crime for the Bush II regime, people didn't seem to have as much trouble seeing the problem with a journalist concealing evidence of a crime. I thought she should go to jail for that, this is way short of sending anyone from the AP to jail.

    It's amazing to me that someone wouldn't insist on a low tech approach to receiving an important leak. I ALWAYS figure the NSA is scooping up my phone calls, especially my calls to my liberal pals. Especially when those contain passages in foreign languages. We've joked about that, occasionally. The several times the guy from Nigeria called me in Esperanto to try to get me to sponsor him for emigration must have flagged something. I'd be disappointed if it didn't.

  4. Sherri4:13 PM

    TV news is bad for you; I recommend avoiding it, especially when breaking news is happening.

    I once served on a non-profit board with someone who had an email account with a government agency. I don't know how many times I tried to explain to her that her emails were subject to a FOIA request, and she should stop sending me emails complaining about other board members (who were, in fact, annoying.) She could complain about them over coffee with me, but don't send me email from her work account!

    Never put anything in email (or text message) that you don't want everybody else to see, if for no other reason than we all sometimes mistakenly hit "reply all"!

  5. I once provided on a non-profit panel with someone who had an e-mail consideration with a government organization. old school new body pdf