12.06.2010 09:50 PM

Power and Politics, Dec. 6: The all-WikiLeaks edition

What documents should be disclosed, when, and by whom?  What’s a free press, and what’s a reckless media?

The question I struggle with – and not in the abstract, either – is this: if a political opponent, or a media person started digging around around in your personal medical records, or your family’s past, or some divorce files, or whatever, would you be mollified by their pious claims that people have a “right to know”?  Or would you be outraged enough to want to sue them until their teeth bleed, or worse, to protect those you love?

Interesting questions.  I suspect we’ll be coming back to them, in the WikiWeeks ahead.

Monte falls asleep as I attempt to demonstrate how to tackle Mr. Assange. Linkage at 1:45 or something.


  1. Namesake says:

    Hmm… well, if you’re really asking, this rather permissive guide for the media addresses some of those q’s here:


    whose summmary is:

    “You have a right to report on the public life of public figures

    You can report on the private life of public figures if

    * it tells something about their character which might affect their public duty
    * they are responsible for public assets
    * their private misdeeds could affect the public good

    You have no right to intrude on a person’s private life where there is no public benefit”

    … where “public figures” for them extends to political columnists (but not som much to political staffers). It’s pretty non-commital on the families issue, tho’, and conspicuously silent about medical issues.

  2. Michael Bussiere says:

    Our pal Tom Flanagan’s police investigation is now on the Assange Wikipedia discussion page:


  3. Riley says:

    The tricky thing about Wikileaks is that although technically laws were broken in obtaining this information and distributing it, we learned that international law was broken by governments and individuals who claim to be guardians of justice truth and democracy. So is it OK to break the law to expose lying law breakers? For example we have Canadians supposedly dying in order to help little girls in Afghanistan go to school. Except that NATO troops are also shooting little girls dead as they play in the streets. Wikileaks has shattered the image of the earnest knowledgeable professional diplomat. The emperor has no clothes. The big shots don’t know what they’re doing. We have proof now … And so someone must pay. But it’s too late. Wikileaks is an idea now. Was illegal file sharing stopped by shutting down Napster? I rest my case.

  4. eattv says:

    The thing that makes Mr. Assange such an intriguing and conflicting figure is that in this media world where everyone’s packaged as this or that, as liberal or conservative, he defies the standard labels. He is the first truly influential anarchist to come on the world scene since perhaps the start of WWI.

  5. Derek Pearce says:

    The Wikileaks dumps aren’t about the personal lives of politicians at all. That’s an apples-oranges comparison and irrelevant.

    Incidentally, the only time I support the leak of info about a politician’s personal life is when they are actively campaigning/legislating against something that they secretly themselves induldge in. Only in cases of hypocrisy is it relevant– ie with the countless gay-bashing Republicans who are themselves closet cases that seemed to be epidemic only recently.

    • Namesake says:

      I’m inclined to agree w. 2nd par., but would add that the (no doubt il- or at best oly quasi-legally obtained!) medical records could only be relevant for those leaders who have a real shot at governing who have a serious medical condition they’ve been concealing that could really impair their decision-making or abruptly disrupt their reign, which could cause economic instability or impede needed reg’s or decisions etc.

      But on the 1st pa.r/pt., what, you’re saying WK makes Wik-NLOG’s?

  6. JH says:

    The CBC Moderators recently allowed this post.
    ‘trmmtl wrote:Posted 2010/12/01
    at 1:39 PM ETI would love for Stephen Harper to be assassinated, I would be ecstatic and overjoyed to see our country rid of that treasonous kakistocrat.’
    Now I wonder along the same lines as WK – is this a sign of a free press or a reckless media?

    • Warren says:

      It’s a criminal offence, actually.

      • Cath says:

        something that I caught in your response that no one honed in on is the issue of how stupid people can be in how “private” they believe internet messaging to be. You mentioned that even your daughter knows better. Yep. Most kids know what too many adults in high places still don’t. Email messaging is anything BUT private and once a message is sent it can end up anywhere. I’m pretty sure we’re not seeing the last of something like this happening.

  7. Steve Gallagher says:

    I’ve been getting my wikileaks news on boing boing and enjoying it. There are certain
    images straight out of the ‘Wag the Dog’ movie. The one that sticks is the French president
    chasing a rabbit around his office. My god, Monty Python, what you could have done with this.

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