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James Ball, Inadvertently
A mere oversight.
Reading James Ball's account of how he sort of by accident leaked a document to Heather Brooke gives one the chills. Here you have a 'data journalist' who tweets something out in the open to another thief and then dismisses the whole thing by remarking 'I did it inadvertently'.
Inadvertently - the kind of weasel word James Ball should be hearing right now from a mutant Jiminy Cricket perched on his shoulder.
'Inadvertently! Inadvertently! Inadvertently! Suck it up!'
How does Wiktionary define 'inadvertently'?
1. Unintentionally, because of an oversight.
Right. So data journalist James Ball - because of an oversight - unintentionally blurted something out in the open to Heather Brooke. And it was just an oversight. And then something sort of emerged. Sort of. And it was Newsbork's fault too. Sort of. It all happened inadvertently. But it needs to be out there!
Right. Lovely word. Other good uses for 'inadvertently'?
1 September 1939 — Germany today inadvertently invaded Poland, one week after inadvertently signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. It was an oversight. They both were. The invasion sort of emerged.
6 August 1945 — The United States today invadvertently bombed the shit out of the Japanese city Hiroshima, murdering hundreds of thousands of people. It was an oversight - much like the second bomb dropped 9 August 1945 on Nagasaki, it too an oversight. The tragedy of course was that both these acts of genocide were not planned or intended - they happened inadvertently. They emerged.
Useful words. Ball sucks it up fast. The David Leigh School of Jackalism.
One doesn't need to go that far back in history to find out who Ball's co-conspirator is - another of David Leigh's apprentices. Heather Brooke had an apprenticeship at WikiLeaks, presumably before the good people there realised they needed an NDA to scare the jackals, and she ran off with the Iraqi War Logs which she used to barter a position at the Guardian with David Leigh.
Why do they teach ethics in schools of journalism anyway? Or perhaps not everyone realises that? But schools of journalism always give their prospective jackals a course in ethics. The question people on the outside continually ask is: 'why?'
They require courses in ethics presumably because they intuitively understand what a rotten bunch of jackals they are. They know journalists don't keep governments on their toes anymore but instead waltz on the toes of governments like little girls first learning to dance. And that's of course another reason the peoples of the world so fiercely support WikiLeaks: they know their own media sold them out.
So what's data journalist James Ball doing these days? He's picking up a regular cheque from Alan Rusbridger. Alan and Dave like Ball because Ball was inside WikiLeaks and can give them lots of sleazy gossipy stuff to sell their paper. And they need all the sales they can get: they're already at the bottom in hard copy sales in the UK. And they don't have WikiLeaks to boost their online revenues unless more Heather Brookes and James Balls come along. Now there's a bigger and better generation of media organisations working on WikiLeaks releases and Alan Rusbridger and David Leigh are no longer invited to the feast.
And thanks to the post-Grauniad clampdown, there's less chance Alan and Dave will be able to steal anything anymore.
So what's Ball doing? So far he's not been asked to help the Grauniad in their ongoing reporting of the News of the World phone tapping scandal. (This might be a good thing at least for Nick Davies: then he won't run out of work any time soon.)
Ball's recently written exciting world-changing articles on the flood of Etonians into the British Who's Who, the proposed cuts in the NHS, accessing public company information, and the celebrated Eurovision Song Contest. BPA nominations are inevitable.
Then of course he inadvertently wrote his piece on his inadvertently leaking the WikiLeaks NDA.
Ball's 'journalism' only washes with the jackals of the Guardian. Nobody else buys it. The best parts are the following.
√ How exactly does Ball know it's his copy was leaked? All the identifying parts are blackened out. How many other copies of the NDA did he see? Could he really be sure when all he did was 'inadvertently' leak 'part' of it?
√ Now leaks emerge? That's almost as good as 'inadvertently'. And he tries to blame Brooke for it?
√ Ball claims he sent her a photograph of the document? He's either congenitally stupid or dissembling or both.
√ Ball pulls the same stunt David Aaronovitch and the wet-eared City U journo students did this past October: he deliberately turns the transparency game on private citizens whose personal lives should be protected instead.
Ball paints a wrenching portrait of a WikiLeaks founder unraveling.
It was January this year, and around 10 WikiLeaks staff and volunteers were working from Norfolk, where Julian Assange is confined thanks to his legal travails.
Julian arrived with a copy of this document for everyone in the room, and asked all to sign it there and then, to demonstrate to all present they were trustworthy and decent. Unlike everyone else present - who were largely young activists with little or no professional training - I read the document first.
I refused to sign, and listed several reasons why. At this point, more than one person in the room asked for their copy of the agreement back. This was refused.
Julian then proceeded to spend two hours - shouting - explaining why I must sign the document, or else risk the lives and wellbeing of everyone in the room, and never be trusted again.
What was Julian so upset about? Ball was on his way out the door - and everyone knows where his taxi would take him. This being a month after 1) the Grauniad sneaked a copy of the latest releases to the New York Times and cut the Washington Post out of the picture; 2) Nick Davies came out with his notorious hit piece on JA; and 3) David Leigh and Luke Harding announced their apocryphal 'The Rise and Fall of WikiLeaks'. What's to be paranoid about?
And what's been stolen from WikiLeaks anyway? Not much. DDB and an immature Icelander stole the WikiLeaks submission system, made sure the WikiLeaks copy couldn't be used, stole perhaps thousands of documents, turned the Cablegate embassy cache over to Heather Brooke who promptly went to barter with David Leigh for a steady paycheck at the Grauniad - so what?
One may surely be excused for stopping in one's tracks and wondering how any of these people - the Birgittas and Herberts and Daniel Shites and Brookes and Balls - can, in the midst of the biggest watershed in human history since the printing press, focus their beady eyes to think only of themselves? And the Eurovision Song Contest?
But anyway. Trivialities. Jules was right upset alright. He'd been double-crossed by Rusbridger several times the month before and now his blanched data journalist was running to Rusbridger for a full time position - why be paranoid?
That NDA isn't half as bad as Ball and the Grauniad make it out to be anyway. The main purpose seems to be to scare the bejeezus out of any journo jackals who've snuck into the organisation and have their sights on positions in the Old Media. No one's suing anyone for £12 million - although that sum is probably out there so Alan Rusbridger will take notice. The figure's obviously an attempt to assess the commercial value (for commercial organisations like Alan Rusbridger's) of what WikiLeaks can have on their hard drives at any one given time.
There's nothing in there attempting to stop people from discussing WikiLeaks or even dragging WikiLeaks through the mud. The WikiLeaks 'gag' is all about WikiLeaks control of documents leaked to them and to no one else. And why, pray tell, would they suddenly think of that in January 2011?
The wincing irony of this entire sordid affair is that WikiLeaks would probably not have thought of an NDA if James Ball had stayed on and not rushed over to the Guardian at first beckoning mating call. But that's water under the bridge, a leak to the New York Times, emerging inadvertently.
Obviously ethics and vision don't work with the likes of James Ball. You gotta try something else. Inadvertently at least.
Oh the irony: it turns out the reason WikiLeaks got the NDA in the first place was they'd discovered how much Ball was leaking to David Leigh for his book with Luke Harding. Given those circumstances, it becomes patently clear why Ball was afraid to sign - he'd already committed the crime. Nothing inadvertent there at all.