The Case Against Posting Paul Manafort’s Leaked Text Messages Online

Publishing stolen information that contributes little to the public forum has no place in ethical journalism.

Paul Manafort, former campaign Chairman for Donald Trump. (Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Paul Manafort, former campaign Chairman for Donald Trump. (Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Earlier today, an account under the handle of @NatSecGeek on Twitter posted a tweet linking to her website where anyone can download, read, and search hacked private text messages from Paul Manafort. Rantt Media has decided not to post them and here’s why.

When Wikileaks, a now known agency of Russian propaganda and intelligence, released John Podesta’s stolen emails from the DNC, the news media flew into a frenzy scouring through them, looking for anything that might appear scandalous or damning to the Clinton campaign. Which would have been fine had they found anything of pertinence to a crime or election rigging. Instead, they were gifted with what I’m sure is a very tasty Risotto recipe, courtesy of John Podesta. However, when nothing serious turned up, rather than condemn the leaks, publications used it to increase their bottom lines with clickbait, examples of which are below:

Four of the juiciest leaked Podesta emails – USA Today

18 revelations from Wikileaks’ hacked Clinton emails – BBC

Hacked Emails From Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta – Politico

What 20,000 pages of hacked WikiLeaks emails teach us about Hillary Clinton – VOX

We’ve seen firsthand the consequences of spreading and exploiting information that does not add substantive discourse to the national conversation. Consequences like the creation of a conspiracy theory that leads an armed gunmen to enter a pizzeria so that he can expose a child sex ring, or becoming unwitting disseminators of Russian propaganda and fake news that fuels the far-right. And while even though the distinction between a man like John Podesta and a man like Paul Manafort is abundantly clear, publishing stolen information that contributes little to the public forum has no place in ethical journalism.

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Opinion // Journalism / Paul Manafort