Friday, August 19, 2005

Missing the point

Arianna Huffington has started a series styled the Judy file, consisting of droppings from New York Times’ anonymice. Imagine what it is like to be Bill Keller right now, wondering which reporters are dishing dirt. Imagine what it is like to come under unjust suspicion for leaking. What are the chances that the anonymice have created an atmosphere of distraction and distrust? Now you know what the worker bees in your government have been putting up with for the last thirty years.

It is remarkable to go to a Washington IT event when one of these scandals is breaking. In the same room you have the worker bees for the government agency issuing subpoenas, the worker bees for the agency receiving subpoenas and the marketing representatives from the litigation support software companies. Mostly everyone is oblivious to the passing storm; but tension is not far from the surface. Industry analysts that have spoken to such groups will tell you that Washington, DC audiences are like no other.

Huffington makes it embarrassing clear that she has no idea what this story is about with this unseemly offer:

And for any employees of the Alexandria Detention Center who may have been monitoring the Bolton-Miller visit: feel free to give us a call or drop us an e-mail. The Judy File promises to protect your identity... even if it means taking the cell next to Judy’s.

It was soon followed by this clarification:

that it is the policy at ALEXANDRIA not to give out the names of visitors (in fact, the deputy we spoke with there said that he wasn’t sure they would give it out even with a subpoena).

This story is partly about reporters and editors who thought their stories were more important than the law. The proper operation of our jails is far more important than Huffington’s ridiculous little blog. It is not morally acceptable to openly solicit the employees of correctional institutions to violate procedures. Huffington needs to clean up her act.

Bob Somerby comments.

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