Partisan Wikileaks Are Not Democratic

Partisan Wikileaks Are Not Democratic

Annie Cohen, Staff Writer

The last few weeks of the presidential campaign have rarely had a day free of scandal or intrigue. The emergence of Wikileaks — and by extension, Russia — as a major player, as far as dominating the news and dictating the national conversation, numbers among the most alarming developments in this election cycle. Never before in modern history has a foreign entity so blatantly attempted to interfere with and influence American politics. The fact that the leaks have even occurred is bad enough, but the problem is compounded by much of the media, who have reported on them mercilessly and drawn the information gleaned from them — true or not — into the mainstream. While the American people are entitled to know as much about their political candidates as they possibly can, stolen emails and documents accessed illegally — which have no way of ever truly being verified — have no place in the democratic process.

What actually occurs between the nefarious triad of Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange and Donald Trump might never be fully understood. But it is clear to see that all three of these men, and the ideas they represent, do better when their opponents or enemies are being forcibly weakened. Hillary Clinton was correct when she argued that Trump was effectively operating as Putin’s puppet. Take the already established relationship
between the Kremlin and WikiLeaks, factor in the Trump component, and what materializes is a toxic cycle of mutual malfeasance.

There is a glaringly obvious argument to be made in support of WikiLeaks — that America has a great tradition of uncovering and exposing controversial information in the name of public interest. This is undoubtly true and thus, much of the mainstream news media is covering the latest leaks as if they were a triumph of investigative journalism rather than unlawfully seized personal emails. The distinction between the two must be recognized, or the press risks setting a very dangerous precedent. The leaked emails, be they among members of the Democratic National Committee or from Clinton aide John Podesta, ought to be viewed for what they actually are — stolen property.

One of the best reactions to the latest batch of leaked emails has come from a law professor by the name of Lawrence Lessig, who was negatively referenced in one of the many messages. Rather than condemn whoever sent the insult-laden email, Lessig spoke out in their defense, asserting that these leaks were not intended to serve public interest, but rather to malign and embarrass certain individuals in order to foster acrimony. Like Lessig, other high-profile figures, especially in the media, have a responsibility to denounce WikiLeaks for their unabashedly ill-intended actions. This information is simply not legitimate, and nobody knows who the next target will be.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, October 24th print edition. Email Annie Cohen at [email protected].