Another day, another massive dump of John Podesta’s private emails onto the internet for the entire world to pick through. And while Donald Trump has been on the campaign trail blasting the national media for its refusal to cover the story, the center-right media has more than made up the difference.
Senator Marco Rubio has made it crystal clear where he stands:
“I will not discuss any issue that has become public solely on the basis of Wikileaks. As our intelligence agencies have said, these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process and I will not indulge it.”
Rubio makes a very good point. Not only is this hack an illegal breach of someone else’s privacy, our own national security apparatus says the Russian government is behind the whole sordid affair. Even beyond the national security implications, there is almost certainly real damage being done to personal relationships where private conversations suddenly aren’t so private.
Many Republicans, eager to see a liberal ideologue like John Podesta exposed and humiliated, are suddenly fans of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. This is the same guy who published a quarter of a million classified “diplomatic cables” from the State Department, putting lives in danger and otherwise jeopardizing US national security. While one could argue that our national security was already jeopardized given the ease with which Bradley Manning (now known as “Chelsea”) accessed the documents, that is a discussion for another day.
The larger point is that Republicans, playing partisan politics, are all too happy that Hillary Clinton‘s top adviser has been placed under a microscope. Rubio has a warning for these Republicans: “Today it’s the Democrats. Tomorrow, it could be us.”
On this point, too, Rubio couldn’t be more right.
Be it tomorrow, next month, or next year, it will be Republicans who are exposed in an email hack. Or a server breach. Or any number of other potential digital security issues that embarrass Republicans, expose strategically important data, destroys relationships, or undermines important Republican objectives. And the Democrats, with help from their willing partners in the liberal mediasphere and mainstream press (but I repeat myself), will trip over themselves to score political points against whichever poor Republican soul finds him or herself at the center of that circus.
Rubio should be commended for taking the position that he isn’t going take political cheap shots based on this kind of leak. When a breach like this occurs, just as there’s no easy way to put toothpaste back in a tube, there’s no stopping the inevitable onslaught of prying eyes that will pour through the leaked data. The damage is already done, privacy has already been breached. Those responsible should be prosecuted, if possible, while candidates and political parties should avoid trying to score cheap points at the expense of someone’s else’s privacy.
What then, if such leaks also contain important information with real news value? Wouldn’t news outlets have a duty to report on the content of the leaked emails if, for example, the breach exposed a significant criminal conspiracy?
In cases like that, the mainstream media can and should report the facts, and political operatives can and should attempt to capitalize in any way possible.
So far, however, there’s been no “smoking gun” proving a Clinton criminal conspiracy. In fact, the only conspiracy exposed thus far is the cozy relationship between supposedly “objective” reporters at mainstream media outlets, and their allies inside the Clinton campaign.
Is that a news story? Absolutely. And Republicans, including Senator Rubio, can and should make the case that the media outlets Americans have been told they can trust are, in fact, ethically compromised. But that’s as far as Rubio, or any other person, should take it.
Marco Rubio should be commended for at least attempting to restore some semblance of decency to our national dialogue that has decended into a cesspool of personal destruction in the shameless pursuit of political advantage.