Reader’s Turn: Response to ‘Southern Style: Secrecy has a Place’

January 14, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

Epoch Times Photo“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act:” George Orwell

I find myself having a completely different take on Wikileaks, although I am certainly no expert on Wikileaks.

I agree with you, secrecy has a place. But after spending many years studying public policy and observing government, I find myself decidedly falling into the transparency camp. I am of the belief that very little of government operations really requires secrecy. If secrecy is used where it is not required, it can only bring forth all manner of corruption and malfeasance, not to mention just plain old downright incompetence.

In your article, you make the distinction between Wikileaks and the free press. You see that it is the role of the free press to hold the government accountable in a responsible manner. But from your perspective, Wikileaks does not conform to being part of the free press.

Many, many years ago, a professor of mine lamented the fact that every time he knew the backstory of a[n] article in the newspaper, the facts were either distorted or just plain wrong. And he wondered about all the other stories where he didn’t know the backstory. How could he trust them?

This had quite a profound affect on me and over the years, I would have a few of my own cases where I knew the backstory behind a story and which was in stark contrast with what was written. So, it has been many years since I really read the mainstream media. And when I do, I am very suspicious. But because I am a generalist, I typically have some knowledge other than the story at hand upon which to make an appraisal. And that is where the problem is, when you are knowledgeable you realize just what a poor job newspapers and other media do.

And of course, there is the recent Supreme Court decision (Citizen’s United) that said that it was Fox News’[s] first amendment right to essentially “make up the news.”

On top of that, over the years, I have come across case after case of information suppression or obfuscation in the newspapers and other media including the book publishing industry. Sometimes the suppression was of a monumental level being international in scope. This hardly fosters confidence that the mainstream free press can really do the job.

Whether or not Wikileaks fits some definition of what journalists and the free press are supposed to be is unimportant to me. I think that Wikileaks serves a vital purpose in fostering transparency and democracy. As such, I am in favour of it.

Peter Yachnin

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.