It seems everyone’s a Trump leaker now. It’s a Washington sport, where words like “breach of trust” and “off the record” mean nothing. And news media outlets are willing to publish anything anyone gives them, no matter how it was obtained.
On Monday, Jared Kushner spoke to a group of interns on Capitol Hill. His topic was the Middle East. The talks were an off-the-record series of summer lectures for congressional interns. One of them recorded it and shared it with WIRED, which gladly published the remarks.
WIRED included this paragraph in its article.
Prior to Kushner’s talk, Katie Patru, the deputy staff director for member services, outreach, and communications, told the assembled interns, “To record today’s session would be such a breach of trust, from my opinion. This town is full of leakers, and everyone knows who they are, and no one trusts them. In this business your reputation is everything. I’ve been on the Hill for 15 years. I’ve sat in countless meetings with members of congress where important decisions were being made. During all those years in all those meetings, I never once leaked to a reporter … If someone in your office has asked you to break our protocol and give you a recording so they can leak it, as a manager, that bothers me at my core.”
After which they proceeded to publish the talk in its entirety.
Reporters in Washington, D.C. would never even think of leaking an Obama administration top official speaking to interns. For one thing, it would ruin their job prospects with the administration. But it would also get a whole bunch of tut-tuts from other reporter who believed it was their job to make Obama succeed.
Those same reporters consider it their job to make Trump fail. In neither of these cases is journalistic ethics applicable. It’s only a cover for the former, and an excuse (“we have to inform the public”) for the latter.
What did WIRED learn about Kushner’s take on the Middle East? Nothing they didn’t already know if they’d have read about his views–or if they interviewed him instead of stealing his talk from a pimple-faced youngster plying his future trade as a D.C. leaker.
And this gem, which is now perversely public because of the efforts of a leaker to the press and a compliant press to publish it.
So if you’ve noticed about this conflict, and [unintelligible] nothing’s leaked out. So nothing has leaked out which I think gives the parties more trust, and more ability to really express and share their viewpoints. And ultimately, if you do a deal that when somebody had to compromise somewhere—all right so there’s a stated set of positions on one side. There’s a stated set of positions on the other side. And there’s a lot of viewpoints all around that people have, which may or may not be conducive to a solution. So I think you need to be able to probe people in private for them to have the confidence that it’s not going to be used against them, and that it’s not going to leak out in the press, which would be very, very hurtful. That’s been a big advantage, which has allowed us to really have a lot of very interesting conversations.
The folks at WIRED are shameful hacks. But then again so aren’t most of the press these days.