February 8, 2013
George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush
Bush 43 and 41 (Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

I’m all for information. The more of it the better. What kind of journalist would I be if I believed otherwise? But there come moments in every reporter’s career when what they find out makes them wildly uncomfortable or wish they’d never found out or both. News that six e-mail accounts belonging to Bush family and friends were hacked puts me in the uncomfortable category.

Oh, you better believe I clicked the link to the story about the invasion of privacy that has befallen the family of former Presidents Bush 41 and 43. What I couldn’t believe was the kind of information the hacker revealed. Pictures of George H.W. Bush in his hospital bed. E-mails on funeral planning between family members. George W. Bush’s paintings. There was more, but I couldn’t bring myself to click all the links in the story.

I’m all for the public’s right to know. But I feel violated on behalf of the Bush family for seeing and reading what I did. Now that we live in an age when the free flow of information is akin to a raging river that is shared instantaneously on multiple platforms 24 hours a day, seven days a week, I am even more sympathetic to the need for a zone of privacy, especially for those in the public eye.

Folks in public office must live by a different, higher standard. They have asked for the public’s trust and ought to be held accountable for violations of it. But Bush 41 and 43 are no longer in public office, so what purpose did any of this serve? None, which is why you may have noticed that I have not linked to the piece or even told you which site is running it.

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Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.