Do American reporters hack citizens' communications?
The journalistic profession has taken a radical hit with revelations about News of the World reporters hacking phones of ordinary citizens, celebrities and politicians.
But the question in my mind isn't so much do American reporters do the same thing. It's how could we find out if they were doing it?
The initial whistleblower of the News of the World scandal was found dead on Monday - his death ruled "unexplained, but not suspicious." The Guardian:
Hoare, who was in his mid-forties, first made his claims in a New York Times investigation into the phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World.
He told the newspaper that not only did [Andy] Coulson know of the phone hacking, but that he actively encouraged his staff to intercept the phone calls of celebrities in the pursuit of exclusives.
In a subsequent interview with the BBC he alleged that he was personally asked by his editor at the time, Coulson, to tap into phones. In an interview with the PM programme he said Coulson's insistence that he didn't know about the practice was "a lie, it is simply a lie".
At the time a Downing Street spokeswoman said Coulson totally and utterly denied the allegations and said he had "never condoned the use of phone hacking and nor do I have any recollection of incidences where phone hacking took place".
Hoare, who said he was once a close friend of Coulson's, told the New York Times the two first worked together at the Sun, where, Hoare said, he played tape recordings of hacked messages for Coulson. At the News of the World, Hoare said, he continued to inform Coulson of his activities. Coulson "actively encouraged me to do it", Hoare said.
The only way anyone found out about this scandal was because one guy spilled the beans. There was apparently a cursory police investigation when hacking allegations surfaced in 2009, but otherwise, the perpetrators were getting away with their outrageous invasions of privacy.
Who is going to ask big media if they hack private communications?As much as alternative media has made inroads into the dominance of the MSM, when it comes to policing themselves, the media does a lousy job. They may be the least introspective large institution in American society, and the chances that we would ever discover if any of them were hacking their target's private phone calls unless one of the principles came forward and admitted it is remote.
What should truly worry us is that if this was happening at one of the largest media companies in the world, who's to say it can't or isn't happening elsewhere?
The MSM lost our trust long ago. They have proven themselves to be less than ethical at times. To dismiss the thought that "it couldn't happen here" is a mistake. Of course it could happen here - and it is disturbing to think we'd never find out about it unless we got very lucky.