In Whom Do We Trust?

Stay out of my closet! Get out of my room! Anyone growing up with siblings knows what I’m talking about – privacy. That’s not something easily attained with a large family. It was a constant battle to protect our sacred space, time or even a favorite sweater from the intrusion of others.

Seating was in big demand in the living room so we had to develop a system by which we said “saved” when we left the room temporarily in an effort to have a seat when we returned to watch “The Brady Bunch.” It is still employed today at family get-togethers.

On the up side there is a lot to be said for learning to share. Whether it is a seat on the bus, your voice in a choir or a favorite recipe, sharing is an art form we all could stand to acquire. It is important, however, to know when to share and when to hold your cards close to your chest.

Some powerful people in our country, i.e., the Internal Revenue Service, have not quite grasped the meaning of privacy as the headlines have disclosed this week. Apparently the IRS has been snooping into the finances of groups of people, such as the Tea Party.

It’s no secret that various political powers-that-be are unhappy with such outspoken groups who might oppose their party or leadership. So that gives them the right to pry into the lives of those with different opinions?

I think not, but I fear it is so.

If that’s not enough to rankle you, the Justice Department has been delving into the workings of the Associated Press, an agency whose livelihood banks greatly on the sacredness of anonymous sources. The news agency’s reputation has stood the test of time and presidents. The feds claim their investigation dealt with a matter of national security involving a CIA operation in Yemen.

As someone who has been in the business of news gathering for 34 years next month, I shuddered when I heard such intrusion. The media has always been tasked with getting to the truth of a story and sometimes that means using anonymous sources who want to see a wrong righted. This newspaper does not run willy nilly into the headlines without verifying a story, no matter the source.

Now that the feds believe they have the right to tap phones and investigate AP’s story sources, it makes all of us in the media a bit nervous. Those anonymous phone calls will stop ringing into newsrooms. E-mails will dry up like magic markers minus their caps. And we will all suffer because of the stories that will never see the light of day but should.

If anything should raise the cockles of the outspoken, this should. Our government is getting too big for its neatly-pressed britches.

Someone in Washington has forgotten that the word “trust” is more than just letters carved in stone and imprinted on our currency. Or is that, too, in jeopardy? God help us all.

Heather Ziegler can be reached at