Brilliant writer and TV titan Aaron Sorkin is using the New York Times op-ed platform to call out the media for aiding the enemy–or at least abetting a crime–by publishing private information leaked as a result of the Sony hack. Sorkin is right about everything he says, most importantly that the stolen information is stolen information and that it’s not in the interest of national security–or anyone’s personal safety–for media companies trafficking in pageviews to spill it for profit. But there’s a catch that even the enormously perceptive Sorkin misses, probably just because he’s been on the inside so long. People in the public don’t regard anything about the entertainment business as private: we’re bombarded constantly by imagery of “stars” selling us images that are completely removed from anything we might consider real. As a result much of the public has no more respect for Angelina Jolie’s privacy than they do for Snoopy’s or Mickey Mouse’s privacy. After all, Jolie has sold photos of her children to magazines for millions of dollars. (Donating the money to charity is part of the script.) We, the public, don’t do that. Her emails, therefore, are fair game–goes the thinking. That may not be right, it may even be reprehensible, but it’s true. Jolie is, in essence, a fictional character to everyone but herself and her isolated circle of peers–and her life is like a reality show.
Sorkin grounds his argument against publishing the hacked information with the following questions: “Do the emails contain any information about Sony breaking the law? No. Misleading the public? No. Acting in direct harm to customers, the way the tobacco companies or Enron did? No. Is there even one sentence in one private email that was stolen that even hints at wrongdoing of any kind? Anything that can help, inform or protect anyone?” Aaron Sorkin is very confident, as you can see, that nothing on Sony’s record shows the company misleading the public or acting in any other harmful way, despite the evidence (which he presents) that Sony’s actions in making their Kim Jong-un comedy has resulted in this hack, and may result in more. (Sony just pissed off a nuke-wielding dictator who also controls an army of hackers–clearly a situation with consequences from which people might need protection. Sony had a right to do it, but can’t a case be made that people have a right to know the thinking behind decisions, as were made at Sony, that resulted in this situation?) Sorkin is also confident about Sony’s broad innocence despite the fact that, on a lighter note, people who spend $15 to see an Adam Sandler movie that the studio knows is a dog are being taken advantage of. $15 can mean a lot outside Hollywood. When all the information has been sifted through, after the dopey Leo DiCaprio “revelations” are tired and used up, the answers to some of Sorkin’s questions about Sony will likely be yes, instead of no. As with other hacks, it’s unlikely everything has been revealed in round one.