The Dignity of Leaking.

506885487In today’s political world the implication is that those who “leak” are liars and less than honorable. In fact, in most cases the opposite is true.

In the supercharged, politicized environment which we live, information finds its way into the press far more quickly than the government wishes. However, leaking is not a new phenomenon. It has been a frustration for past administrations as well. As a result, there is always some friction between the free press and our government. Truthfully, some friction is good. The press is often referred to as the 4th estate defined as a segment of society that wields an indirect but significant influence on society even though it is not a formally recognized part of the political system. A strong and independent media provides an essential counterbalance to a government which too often seeks to “manage” information. Not only are the press not the enemy of the people, they are essential.

So as we think about leaking of information to the media, I’d prefer to think about leaking as exposing information that we, the public, have a right to know. The public seeks the unvarnished truth—at least I do. We can handle the truth. Alas there is so much varnishing, it’s good to get the inside scoop before information is spun and doctored beyond understanding.

To be clear, not at leaking is good. There are times when national security is at risk. Exposing a CIA agent for example (oh yeah, our government did that) is criminal. So is providing location information of military, and other information that threatens the lives of those who serve us.

But in the majority of cases, leaking is merely the inconvenient exposing of the truth, or in many cases whistle blowing of wrong-doing. So, I prefer to call leakers “information exposers with dignity”.

In the current administration, the volume and frequency of information exposure appears to be greater than in past administrations. I think it’s too easy to “blame the Dems” and the “dishonest media” as the cause. And the relentless criticism of the DOJ and FBI, the institutions which do not leak is unwarranted. Alas Mr. President, me thinks thou doth protest too much. The reality is that the majority of exposure has come from disgruntled folk within the administration. There is a distinct lack of respect for rules/process within our current administration which has forced exposure of embarrassing information to be exposed.

Does the media seize upon exposed information with glee? Yes, it does. Is it often over the top in its snarky zeal? Yes, it is. Too much “breaking news” of stuff that’s not important. That’s the cost we pay for 24 hour news coverage. But I am thankful that the mainstream media gets it right almost all of the time and furthermore, it admits when it screws up, a quality many sorely lack.

Thanks to those that expose information that we have a right to know. I respect the dignity of those who expose information far more than those who seek to hide the truth. Leak on, brothers and sisters. Leak on.

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