The intelligence was obtained illegally. The hackers presented a threat to workers and their families. Foreign operatives likely were behind the document theft. Any news organizations that report this ill-gotten information are, if not un-American, surely "morally treasonous and spectacularly dishonorable."
Are those the words of intelligence talking heads railing against National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden? No, they are the thoughts of screenwriter and "Newsroom" creator Aaron Sorkin, who argued in The New York Times on Monday that news organizations should not print stories about purloined internal Sony corporate documents — replete with dirt on stars' compensation, employee medical records and top execs' emails, some with snarky racial references to President Barack Obama. The documents were extracted by a group that calls itself Guardians of Peace, which threatened to leak more Sony tidbits if the corporation goes through with its scheduled Christmas Day release of the comedy "The Interview," about a CIA-inspired assassination plot against North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un.
"You're giving material aid to criminals," Sorkin scolded. And: "First, salaries were published. Not by the hackers, but by American news outlets." Sorkin directed more umbrage toward the "American journalists helping them" than he did toward the hackers, who reputedly are linked somehow to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
There is something precious about Sorkin's outrage toward the Sony leaks. Sorkin notes that the Guardians of Peace have threatened Sony families. OK, the same can be said of a spate of national security leaks, which threaten to expose U.S. intelligence assets abroad.
It says something about this country's lack of seriousness that the Hollywood left can applaud hackers who purloin sensitive national security information but can find outrage after leaked emails reveal that Hollywood honchos — as opposed to tea party activists — can be racially insensitive. CNN's Don Lemon confessed that he is "torn" about the Sony story. Lemon asked, "Do you want people gaining information that way?" How else does Lemon think this happens?
Sorry. It's hard to hit the brakes on the leak culture when it has run over so many nameless public servants in the intelligence community.
For its part, Sony reacted with Washington-like heavy-handedness. The entertainment giant hired David Boies, the lawyer who represented Al Gore's losing case on the 2000 Florida presidential vote recount. He shot off a letter to news outlets warning that the material is "stolen information," that Sony does not consent to publication of hacked documents and that the corporation "will have no choice but to hold (them) responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by (them)."
If Sony wants to win public sympathy, then its execs should be railing about the copious blood on Kim Jong Un's hands. They could vow not to buckle to blackmail, be it from the henchmen of a North Korean despot or anonymous anarchistic hackers. They even could talk about the ugliness of information theft.
Instead, Sony hired a big-shot lawyer to repeat the thought of every Hollywood biggie treated like a civilian: Don't you know who I am?
Email Debra J. Saunders at [email protected] To find out more about Debra J. Saunders and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.