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Saturday, November 21, 2009
NewsBusters' Double Standard on Hacked Email Accounts
Topic: NewsBusters

When an email account belonging to Sarah Palin was hacked last year, NewsBusters was not amused:

  • Dave Pierre complained that the incident was not adequately covered by the media: "Imagine if Barack or Michelle Obama's e-mail had been hacked. Would the reaction from the folks at the Los Angeles Times be so muted? If an Obama were the victim, it's easy to picture Times editor Tim Rutten penning a hissy-fit op-ed, angrily demanding a federal investigation, and trying to formulate how the McCain campaign was directly involved."
  • Mark Finkelstein lamented: "One or more people hack Sarah Palin's email account and publish her private correspondence on the web.  So MSNBC and Politico naturally want to know if. . . Palin did anything wrong and whether there might be anything embarrassing to her in the purloined e-letters." He added: "Let's turn the tables and imagine someone had broken into Obama's email account."
  • Matthew Sheffield devoted a post to how the "feds are zeroing in" on the suspected hacker.

Fast forward to yesterday. Upon the news that email servers at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit -- which does research into global warming -- were hacked, NewsBusters expressed no concerns about the apparent illegality of the action. Rather, its writers rooted through them to find anything embarrassing -- even though it previously frowned on people doing exactly that to Palin's hacked email.

Indeed, Noel Sheppard howls that the emails "appear to indicate a conspiracy by some of the world's leading global warming alarmists to falsify temperature data in order to exaggerate global averages." While Sheppard noted a news report that "police had been informed" about the hacking, he expressed no reservation about published illegally obtained information.

Sheppard's lead piece of evidence supporting his "conspiracy" -- an email referencing a "trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline" -- is, of course, not evidence at all. As Real Climate points out: "Scientists often use the term 'trick' to refer to a "a good way to deal with a problem", rather than something that is 'secret', and so there is nothing problematic in this at all."

Further, the author of the email, CRU director Phil Jones, explains:

"No, that's completely wrong. In the sense that they're talking about two different things here. They're talking about the instrumental data which is unaltered -- but they're talking about proxy data going further back in time, a thousand years, and it's just about how you add on the last few years, because when you get proxy data you sample things like tree rings and ice cores, and they don't always have the last few years. So one way is to add on the instrumental data for the last few years."

Meanwhile, P.J. Gladnick touted the purported "shocking revelations" in the emails without mentioning the apparent illegality involved in obtaining them.

Apparently, NewsBusters believes it's OK to commit crimes against people if you don't agree with their political views.

(P.S. The hacking of Palin's email revealed that she was conducting state business on a private account, arguably a violation of ethics and open government. An Alaska judge declared the practice to be legal because state law didn't address it. NewsBusters has never mentioned this.)

Posted by Terry K. at 12:33 PM EST

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