One of the uglier sign points in the decline of journalism and general ethics was the repeated description of published stolen material as “leaked”. There was some defense when the media described material stolen by insiders as “leaked”, but then the term became commonplace for calling documents stolen by hackers as leaks.
Take the recent hack of the Oath Keepers.
Official military and government email addresses can be found throughout a leaked membership list from the Oath Keepers militia.
The paramilitary group, which is currently embroiled in controversy after 19 of its members were arrested and charged for their alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, had its data exposed on Monday after allegedly being targeted by a hacker.
The 5GB data cache, most of which was made public by the journalism and transparency collective DDoSecrets, contains emails and group chats as well as information on members and donors.
This is not a leak. Yet the media keeps falsely referring to this theft as a “leak” while making use of the materials.
Israeli Medical Data Leaked in Ongoing Cyberattack by Iran-linked Hackers – Haaretz
An Iran-linked hacking group that had breached the servers of an Israeli web hosting site started leaking more databases of personal information on Wednesday, including from a medical clinic.
Again, theft, not a leak.
There are numerous examples, some political, some apolitical, and in none of these were there any real consequences for the media even when it was clearly complicit in receiving stolen information.
Earlier this year, Elliot Broidy, a Trump ally and Republican fundraiser, was targeted by Qatari hackers. Broidy had been sharply critical of the terror state which has been linked to everything from 9⁄11 to Iran. And his emails were quickly peddled to media figures who spun them into pro-Qatari hit pieces.
When Broidy struck back with a lawsuit targeting Qatar and its lobbyists, phone records showed that LoBianco had spoken three dozen times to a registered foreign agent of the Islamic terror state.
In his story, LoBianco wrote of a “cache of emails obtained by the AP.“ The emails are described as having been “anonymously leaked.“ A more factually accurate term would have been “hacked” or “stolen.“ And LoBianco and the AP had no problem with posting these stolen emails online.
The Project Veritas raids have to be seen in the context of a media that normalized stealing and publishing people’s private information, either for political reasons or for clicks, and yet insists that the line has to be drawn when the targets, Clinton’s people or Biden’s people, are on their side of the political line. Making that argument is just hypocrisy, backing it up with state authority is weaponizing the FBI to suppress a form of journalism that they accepted as legitimate until they fell afoul of it, much like hidden-camera investigations and Planned Parenthood.