A Tale of Two Leaks: NYT Bashed Palin, But Won't Touch ClimateGate

November 24th, 2009 12:41 PM
The ClimateGate email leak has demonstrated in full force a glaring double standard in the mainstream media's coverage of leaked information. Too often, liberal media outlets jump at the chance to damage conservative figures by publishing sensitive information, but refuse to publish such information if it discredits or hinders the left's efforts.

As Clay Waters reported yesterday, Andew Revkin, who writes for the New York Times's Dot Earth blog, refused to publish emails from Britain's East Anglia Climate Research Unit showing efforts to manipulate climate data and marginalize global warming skeptics.

Said Revkin, "The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here."

Revkin is correct that the emails were never intended for the public eye, contained private communications, and were released by hackers who violated the law in obtaining them. But apparently this standard for publication of such documents does not apply to information about Sarah Palin.

The Times's Caucus Blog reported on September 17 of last year:
Computer hackers broke into the private Yahoo e-mail account of Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate, and posted some of her messages and a long list of contacts on the Internet.

The Web site Wikileaks posted screen shots of Ms. Palin’s inbox displaying her username, gov.palin@yahoo.com, and messages that were reportedly obtained by a group of hackers on Tuesday night.

The e-mails include an exchange between Ms. Palin and Alaska’s lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, as well as an associate, Amy McCorkell, who Ms. Palin appointed to a state drug and alcohol advisory board last year. Wired Magazine reported on its Internet privacy blog, Threat Level, that it obtained confirmation from Ms. McCorkell that she did, in fact, send the message to Governor Palin.

On Wednesday, the McCain campaign acknowledged the breach in a statement from campaign manager, Rick Davis: “This is a shocking invasion of the governor’s privacy and a violation of law. The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities and we hope that anyone in possession of these emails will destroy them. We will have no further comment.”

Governor Palin has faced criticism for reportedly using her private address to conduct government business.
When hackers posted screenshots of the then-Vice Presidential nominee on Wikileaks, the Times rushed to publish the information. It even included a link directly to a page displaying the screenshots, disclosing private communications and making available her personal email address and contact list. This is "private information" in every sense of the term.

Guy Benson at National Review extrapolates that at the Times, "it's unacceptable to direct readers to hacked private emails that fundamentally disrupt a lefty meme-of-the-decade, but it's totally cool to direct readers to hacked private emails of the lefty bete noire-of-the-year."

Revkin's statement displays a profound double standard in the Times's reporting on leaked information. It managed, in the last sentence of the Caucus Blog post, to turn Palin's email leak into an attack.

Yet in the case of the ClimateGate emails, which were obtained in a near-identical manner and contain similarly sensitive and personal communications, the Times suddenly finds ethical misgivings in publishing the information. The paper's reservations appear to be a veiled attempt to shield the left's global warming narrative from criticism.