I know. Well, sometimes a vulgar word is the most accurate we have.
Our definition of journalism has yet to catch up with the cyber age, and freedom of speech does not distinguish among blogs, newspapers and dissidents. What ensures responsible use of First Amendment rights is ethics, not law. America allows journalists to act as information laundries, taking material that a private citizen was bound not to reveal by law, contract, or professional duty, and to re-define it to the world as what “the public has a right to know,” defined any way the particular journalist finds appealing.
Despite all the fulminating and condemnations by the likes of Mitch McConnell and Newt Gingrich on the Sunday talk shows, the U.S. can’t make Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a terrorist just by calling him one, nor can it fairly declare him a criminal for accepting the product of the unethical and often illegal acts of leakers, and making it public, just like the New York Times has done on many occasions…not under current laws. Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier who leaked many of the secret documents, is certainly a criminal. So was Daniel Ellsberg, who, to nobody’s surprise, is cheering Assange on and attacking his critics. . Assange, however, is not a criminal. He has not revealed any information that he accepted in trust while promising not to reveal it. He is no more a criminal than the New York Times, if the New York Times was published in Hell. Continue reading