Twentieth century novelists and then twentieth century critics became quite interested in the narrator’s point of view – surely from whose point of view we see, say, Lolita is important. When Benjy, whose mind is that of a toddler, tells us one section of The Sound and the Fury, we know Faulkner is going to be limited in the commentary that his narrator is (realistically) capable of providing. These are artistic choices and we see them forming the stories. Huck Finn‘s strength comes from the limitations Twain embraced – he has to show us rather than “tell” us much because his narrator, even though he matures in interesting ways, is naive.
Given this, why does the press think the public has no interest in knowing whose point of view is structuring a reporter’s narrative about someone or other’s malfeasance or mere incompetence? We know from some other angle this may well seem someone else’s (the leaker’s?) responsibility. We also realize that within a bureaucracy many a person is passed over for promotion or engages in turf building that puts his ambitions at odd with another’s. We assume leakers are not evil, but we also assume they are human. Light is a good disinfectant.
The Bill of Rights, in its grandeur, often pits one interest against another (freedom to worship freely with freedom from coercion to worship becomes complicated in public prayers). But its thrust was always toward transparency, it encouraged light & empowered the free marketplace.
We would like to know, I suspect, if the current leaker was motivated by a need to protect his fellow citizen’s rights & came from a confidence little harm would follow. We have a right to information that helps us better weight evidence: Was the leaker concerned with public rights or personal wrongs, the security of the public or his job, the good of the nation or personal animosity, altruism or careerism? Most actions arise from mixed motives, but we are left with no sense of the mixture and little if any of the context. We know we are getting a partial fact – but we don’t know the angle of vision. (The problems with one man’s view is one the msm often reminds us is true when we get the quite open perspectives of military bloggers.) Whistleblowing isn’t, really, all that noble when done in secrecy, although the information may be as important and the end as good. And the msm, which expects us to be so skeptical of the motives of politicians, expects us to accept on faith their motives and those of their informants. That’s pretty silly. Reynolds’s argument observes:
That’s one of the problems with claims to “journalistic privilege.” Journalists aren’t claiming the right to tell us things we want to know. They’re claiming the right to not tell things they’d rather we didn’t know.