They'd been itching to pull the trigger on this one for some time, getting into quite the verbal and legal battle with the ACLU over their planned revealing of "John Doe's" true identity. The ACLU lawyers in the case claim to have faced incredible harassment from the public themselves and wanted to shield their client from such pressures, including potential death threats.
After the World-Herald's uncovering the identity of "John Doe", the ACLU sought a court injunction to prevent them from publishing this information, but the effort failed. Ever since, the ACLU has been a frequent target of pithy editorial comments for their supposedly hypocritical attempt to impugn the rights of a free press by fulfilling their duty as lawyers protecting their client.
At the time, the World-Herald promised they only wanted to serve the public interest - not endanger anyone - while questioning the ethics of anonymous lawsuits that seek to influence public policy. Well, obviously, as evidenced by today's story, it serves the public interest not only to know the plaintiff's name but also to see his picture and that of his license plate. Otherwise, why would the World-Herald run these photos?
The article also revealed that "John Doe" drives a Toyota, listed his employer, and described the make and location of his family's home in Plattsmouth. Tasteful. Very tasteful.
Poor man. For someone who claims to have already "had threats to firebomb my house, to have my son beaten" this has to seem like a contract on his and his family's lives. Is this really the treatment one deserves for standing up for something they belive in against the majority? Pretty damn despicable of the World-Herald if you ask me. Shame on writer John Ferak, photographer Jeff Bundy, and the whole damn outfit for showing such a complete lack of sensitivity.
Hopefully, the good people of Plattsmouth will show more concern and compassion, keeping this battle in the courts where it belongs.
What's most pathetic about the World-Herald's running this article today, though, is actually its lead editorial which has the audacity to demand a federal shield law that protects the identity of anonymous sources in the press.
How hypocritical is that to reveal the identity (and so much more) of a man afraid for his life on the same day they demand reporters be exempted from ever being forced to reveal such things in a criminal investigation. Talk about a power trip - the World-Herald wants to be judge, jury, and executioner...above the law in every way.
Now, personally, I support some legal assurances of confidentiality in the press, but I'm not the one who just violated the very principle on which such an idea should be founded - not some precariously vague notion of freedom of the press but rather serving the public good by protecting whistle-blowers and those who challenge the status quo.
In the "Valerie Plame" incident that forces this issue, there is no honest claim to serving the public good. The name of a CIA operative was leaked to the press as payback against a critic of the Bush Administration. Of course, here comes the World-Herald to defend a principle they violated on the exact same day - perhaps because the identity of this anonymous source could very well be none other than "Bush's Brain" Karl Rove.
Just goes to show: actions speak louder than words and - when both are twisted to serve such a blindly partisan political agenda as the World-Herald's - all bets are off.
Does the World-Herald do this intentionally - are they so hypocritical just to see if they can get away with it? In that case, how much must they hate their readers because this....this is ridiculous. I would suggest this was a new low if I wasn't so sure the next one's right around the corner.