By David Poland email@example.com
I Met Daniel Ellsberg And Gizmodo, You Are No Daniel Ellsberg
Sometimes we are faced with the challenge of deciding whether the law should protect the least of us.
Such is the case in the story of Gizmodo and the next-gen iPhone they paid to exploit. Paying to get access to a proprietary prototype phone that may or may not have been stolen – no way for Gizmodo or us to know… and it doesn’t seem to be an issue for them – and then not only publishing every proprietary detail they could glean from the phone, as well as nailing the guy who “lost” the phone.
If you can find the news in that… and I mean News, not gossip… let me know.
There was no “public deserves to know” interest whatsoever in this story, which is why the comparisons to the Pentagon Papers is absurd on its face. Ellsberg knew the government was lying to the public about a war in which hundreds of thousands of Americans were dying and he broke the law to expose that lie… and the NY Times and then, dozens of other papers followed suit on principle.
The only principle in the iPhone story is Gawker Media’s hunger for hype. This was further served by delaying the announcement about the search and seizure until Monday, when the web traffic for news stories like this is higher. (Could Gawker Media have spent the weekend selling ad space for this breaking story?)
But that is where it gets tricky. If we want to claim that defending The Pentagon Papers is honorable, we have to seriously consider Gizmodo and Jason Chen.
And the crux of it, for me, goes right to the argument that Devin Faraci and Drew McWeeny are Twitter-slapping each other over as well.
WHAT IS NEWS?
This may be one of the big questions that is truly of the internet era. As the ability to publish to a significant number of people was taken out of the hands of the dailies and weeklies, the standards that were so tightly held by Traditional Media, led by the New York Times, were thinned. And then, because of popularity, redefined as the new standard of the day.
If what used to be purely the province of industrial espionage is now what we call “news,” then there is no question that the government infringed on Chen’s rights on Friday. If not, then not so much.
But assuming it’s “news,” the California Penal Code is not generous to those who would claim, “finders keepers.”
CAL. PEN. CODE