Media makes its own rules

The media typically withholds names of rape victims to protect the privacy of that person. Except when it serves a higher purpose, like ratings or ad revenues.

Last week the New York Times published the name of a CIA specialist, against his wishes and the wishes of the CIA. Now how did the NYT feel about Valerie Plame’s name being made public? Oh yeah, they raised hell.

Apparently it’s different when the NYT wants to do it. They published this man’s real name, now leaving him open to any nut who is politically opposed to the CIA, thinks the CIA tortures people and wants to avenge the terrorist dude with the grossly hairy back, or just anyone who wants to send hate mail or harass his kids.

Their reasoning? It added credibility to the story.

Does that mean every story that relies on anonymity has no credibility? Woodward and Bernstein might disagree.

There’s nothing more cartoonish than a bunch of newspaper editors waving the free press banner and claiming a wrongdoing is “important to the story.” What self-serving crap. They did it for very obvious reasons: the New York Times wanted to promote its political agenda of being anti CIA (except they’re pro CIA when they can slap George W. Bush with something, so their point of view depends on the agenda du jour).

Several months ago, the St. Louis Post Dispatch pulled a similar stunt.

There’s a law in Missouri that protects the privacy of persons involved in carrying out the death penalty.

This would be for obvious reasons. Just as doctors don’t want their names and home addresses splashed on an anti-abortion website, people who in some way take part in death penalty cases need the same protection.

The Post Dispatch decided it didn’t like that law and wanted to publish the name of a nurse who was part of the execution team. Instead of trying to change the law, or writing columns about how much they disliked the law, they decided to break the law.

They published the guy’s name.

Hopefully no bad will come of such decisions. If so, the blood will be on the hands of the editors at both papers. Sadly, I think they would secretly be thrilled if these people were killed. Why else would they have published the names?