Great Eastern Hotel, Glasgow
I’ve been following The Guardian’s coverage of the News International phone-hacking scandal. While I think hacking a person’s phone is criminal and should be treated as such, I disagree with The Guardian's apparent position that subterfuge should never be committed by journalists.
I’ve misrepresented myself several times: I dressed in rags and pretended to be homeless in order to get admitted to the Great Eastern Hotel in Glasgow, because I wanted to examine the conditions there. When I heard that a nursing home was neglecting its residents, I pretended that I had an elderly relative I wanted to find a place for. I’ve gone on ride-along with cops who didn’t know I was a journalist, because I wanted to report what they actually said when they didn’t expect consequences. When Sheriff Joe Arpaio was acting as a “celebrity waiter” at a charity event, I went to the restaurant for dinner, pretending to be a tourist from Scotland, and asked him whether he was going to run for governor. There have been other such deceptions - these are only the ones that spring to mind right now - and the sad fact is that they are often necessary in matters of public interest. It should be exceptional, and a last resort, but as long as the privacy of individuals is not being violated, I see no ethical problem with it.
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The Arizona Republic reports that the Phoenix Police Department wastes hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars paying officers accused of misconduct to wait at home as internal investigations drag on for as long as a year, even when there is no dispute about the misconduct the cops are accused of.
Nine years ago, just after the Diamondbacks had won the World Series, I was about to leave Phoenix. I remarked to M.V. Moorhead, “I think the jig’s up here. Colangelo has bought Phoenix the one thing it didn’t need and should never, ever have - respectability.”
How wrong I was. Phoenix has always been corrupt, was actually founded as a hustle, but in the last decade it’s gotten worse beyond my most feverish imaginings, worse to the point of near-apocalypse. We have elected officials who belong in a mental ward, led by a governor who’s barely literate and whose education, such as it was, ended in high school. We have cold-blooded murder by cops, we have cops involved in organized fraud, we have a sheriff who behaves like a regional warlord, we have a new law that’s so racist as to be unconstitutional, we have vast wealth in a state that’s so broke that education and health care aren’t being adequately funded…
As bad as things were here before, the current state of the state makes me almost nostalgic for how innocent and just a little bit mischievous things were back then.
Respectability? That was stupid, even for me.
Stephen Lemons reports that retired Judge Charles E. Jones described Andrew Thomas’ time as Maricopa County Attorney as a “reckless, four-year campaign of corruption and power abuse.”
I’d say that’s about right. And his accomplice Arpaio has been doing it since 1993.
The Arizona Republic reports that the Supreme Court will recommend disbarment for former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas. Perhaps this well serve as a warning to Bill Montgomery, Thomas’ replacement and fellow Arpaio stooge.