March 20, 2013

Gawker yesterday afternoon took the guerrilla step of publishing George W. Bush’s e-mail address. The information comes from Guccifer, a hacker who captured screengrabs of e-mail exchanges among some very important figures.

As he blasted out the contact information for our 43rd president, Gawker Editor-in-Chief John Cook issued a bit of advice on what sort of note to pass along: “And it has come to our attention on this, the day of the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq on the orders of George W. Bush, that one of those screengrabs credibly displays Bush’s private email address. It is: [address deleted] Please let him know that you’re thinking of him today.”

Gawker loves such mischief. Get a cell phone number or e-mail address from someone who needs a shot of public input, and Gawker will make it very public. Example: “Call Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein on His Cell Phone and Cheer Him Up.” That post featured Lloyd Blankfein’s cell-phone number.

Some predictable outrage greeted Cook’s George W. Bush-e-mail-outing post. Commenters cited safety and computer security. One person wrote in to say that the Gawker stunt/public-accountability measure might force the former president to change his e-mail address.

In a quick chat with the Erik Wemple Blog, Cook said, “He only has to change his e-mail address if he’s not interested in hearing the thoughts of the American people about what he did.” The editor said that he talked about the e-mail reveal “at length” with Gawker personnel before springing it on the site’s readers.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.