The Washington Post reported the story but dispensed with its usual practice of linking to the original article and did not reprint the hacked photos. While the hack is newsworthy, Executive Editor Martin Baron said, “I don’t see a reason to display those photos. This is all private to the Bush family. There are no public policy implications here whatsoever.”
Baron drew a distinction between publishing important documents taken without authorization — such as the Pentagon Papers and the WikiLeaks cables — and personal materials taken from a private source. The former reveal the conduct of government actions, he said, while the latter do not.
(Evan Vucci/AP) - In this Dec. 26, 2008 file photo, President George W. Bush walks with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. A criminal investigation is under way after a hacker apparently accessed private photos and emails sent between members of the Bush family.
A criminal investigation has been launched after private Bush family photos leaked.
Hacker’s release of highly personal photos, e-mails highlights that nothing online is truly private.
Reviewing the amateur paintings of former President George W. Bush isn't the same as, say, reviewing the saxophone playing of Bill Clinton.
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.
The New York Times appeared to ignore the story altogether for much of Friday. Its only mention of it was an arts-blog entry late in the day assessing George W. Bush’s skills as a painter. The paper did not return a request for comment.
But such ethical constructs are under siege in an age in which virtually any individual can publish or broadcast information, said Stephen Ward, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
“I’ve said before that media ethics aren’t just for the media anymore,” he said. “They’re for everyone.”
In December, an anonymous individual somehow obtained and posted the final grades of thousands of high school students in Fairfax County. The 2,100-page document appeared on Fairfax Underground, a freewheeling online forum that also disclosed the names of students allegedly involved in making videos of themselves having sex with several girls. The site removed the grade document after Fairfax school officials obtained an injunction.
The Smoking Gun is a far more established and respected news site. While well-known for posting mug shots of arrested celebrities, it also does substantial investigative work. It uses government and legal sources, such as court documents and Freedom of Information Act requests, to obtain exclusive material about criminal and civil proceedings.
In addition to the Bush story, the site this week posted court documents filed in criminal actions against hackers accused of prying into the e-mail accounts of such figures as Mila Kunis, Miley Cyrus, Scarlett Johansson and Sarah Palin.