Media Blog

The Times’ Flexible Ethics on Hacked Emails

Ah, the sweet, sweet fragrance of journalistic hypocrisy. 

Ed Driscoll has the old Grey Lady dead-to-rights in an instance of indefensible duplicity — refusing, on “principle,” to link to hacked emails that appear to provide smoking-gun evidence of a global warming cover-up. The emails reveal top officials at a leading British anthropogenic global-warming advocacy center  intentionally suppressing and manipulating scientific data to suit their political agenda. It’s pretty damning stuff. They’re caught red-handed grousing–in writing– that available empirical evidence doesn’t accomodate their warming alarmism.

Example: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment, and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

Refusing to allow facts to get in the way of their pseudo-religious fervor, the researchers collude to tweak their own data and falsify results.

Example:  “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

Considering the potential bombshell nature of this story, one would think the MSM would jump all over it.  As Michael Goldfarb points out, the opportunity to expose clandestine attempts by powerful interests to defraud the public is a journalist’s dream.  Evidently that attraction is lost on the Times’ Andrew Revkin, who explains his high-minded, thoroughly ethical decision not to link to the emails:

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.

Astonishing. Revkin’s newspaper has a long history of gleefully splashing national-security secrets across its front page. Say Andrew, do you suppose the Pentagon Papers were ever ”intended for the public eye”?  When did the expectation of privacy become the Times’ standard to determine whether to go to press with sensitive information?

In fairness, perhaps today’s email-gate and the Pentagon Papers leak isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison.  Maybe the New York Times simply refuses to print illegally-accessed, private emails

Nope.  Last fall, the Times’ election blog linked directly to hacked exchanges from the email account of Sarah Palin:

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

So according to the “Paper of Record’s” unofficial school of journalistic ethics, 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.

I await with bated breath the late-to-the-party, hand-wringing column from the Times’ ombudsman, agonizing over whether his paper may have engaged in a slight double standard here.

UPDATE: The BBC sat on these emails for weeks.


The Latest