Monday, June 26, 2006

Matters of Public Interest

Bill Keller's experiments with homosexuality when he was in college. We must know more about this. It would be very interesting. All the more interesting, if made public. We have a right to know. He is a public figure, and such conduct must have a bearing on his current decision-making processes.

Doyle McManus's use of narcotics and hallucinogens. Not only is it in violation of current law, but it reflects an on-going pattern of disregard for normative public behavior, and as such has a significant bearing on his current decision-making processes. We, the public, have an interest in this salient point as it touches on the character of a public figure.

Arthur Sulzberger's trips to Mexico, where he engages in sexual activity with underage girls. Underage by American standards. The age of consent in Mexico is of course 12 years old, so he may be in violation of no law, but the public is interested in such things, and we have a right to gratify our interest in the conduct of public figures. It is incumbent upon all journalists and publishers and editors to reveal secret matters in their personal lives, because secrets are interesting, and since they are jounalists etc. they are public figures, so the public has a right to know. And also an interest. We have a right to have our interests gratified. It's a right.

What? None of these things are true, in the particular? Well, I'll grant that. It just seems very likely - if not these precise things, then something else, of equally salacious interest. The journalistic standard is, after all, public interest. That is such a vague and broad standard, no? And of these important, public men - surely their secrets must be revealed? After all, the only lives that could be lost or ruined upon the revelation of such secrets, would be their own. How appropriate, that they themselves should bear the cost of their own conduct. They have demonstrated that they have no regard for government secrets, which when revealed most assuredly give aid and comfort to the enemies of every American. It would be sheer hypocrisy to say their personal secrets must be inviolate, while national programs, necessarily kept secret that they may be effective, are plastered across their front pages in banner headlines. After all, what is the standard by which they justify their sedition? Public interest.

I suppose there is an Islamist public. This must be the NY Times target readership. Even the NY Times must be loyal to something. What that may be can only be guessed at. It has nothing at all, manifestly, to do with patriotism. What a joke. What ideology animates them? Let's get the immortal monkeys started on the eternal typewriters, to come up with that answer. But the secret that must be kept is the names of the leakers, the oath-breakers who slobber into the journalists' pointed ears every matter that they conspire together to agree will hurt Bush. And incidentally America. But what is America? America be damned.

One puzzlement does befuddle me, though. Are the leakers likely to give all the facts, pro and con? Are they likely to be diligent and fairminded in the course of betraying their trusts? What is the system of checks and balances that will ensure the journalists get a complete picture, by which they might decide to reveal information that representationally elected officials - who are in possession of all the facts - have thought best be kept secret? Well, the standard after all is not national but public interest. So Keller informs us.

There still exists, technically, on the books, the Espionage Act and other even more germane statutes. There exists no journalistic exception. That would be madness. Why is it that the Daily Worker does not publish such secret information, while the Washington Post and the NY Times and the egregious LA Times do? Subtler minds than my own must plumb that mystery. But I suspect that if some fringe publication did expose such classified and secret information, the swiftness of their prosecution would leave the traitors spinning. Some traitors have too firm a foundation, it seems. There is no moral suasion or appeal to logic that would move them.

And of course these traitorous cowards have no sons, to be torn apart by IEDs. Or if they do, the boys are too busy getting their tongues pierced, to be bothered doing anything as retro as serving their nation. The very idea is laughable.

On the other hand, maybe we're not really at war. Maybe there are no secrets that need to be kept. It may all just be propaganda, and the only news worth reporting is Haditha and Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and oh I just can't wait for the next scandal that proves how bad and evil America is and how right our enemies are. Did I accidentally say enemies? My bad. We have no enemies. Not the Islamist terrorists, and not the New York Times, which is located in a city were two mighty and matchless towers still stand.


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