Are Staffers Entitled to their Privacy?

What about the relations of Supreme Court nominees?

Eric Schneiderman, a New York state senator and a candidate for attorney general, was involved in what’s being termed a minor hit-and-run, but from what I’m seeing, only involved his car hitting a parked, unoccupied vehicle. This shouldn’t impact his political career. Schneiderman is a talented, reform-minded, and ethical state senator — and New York state is in desperate need of men like him. If the incident reports stand up, Schneiderman made a mistake, but not one big enough that it could (or should) tarnish his promising career. Still, I suppose, it’s fair game to report.

The same can’t be said of NY1’s decision to release the name of the staffer who was with Schneiderman at the time — Rachel Kagan, Elena Kagan’s niece — and DailyIntel‘s decision to, like Politico, re-report it with snarky commentary.

As a staffer in a case like this, Rachel’s culpability is derivative of the senator’s. If she made a mistake, that’s between her and Mr. Schniederman, and is not a matter of public concern. Further, if this is an invasion of her privacy, it’s one that Rachel, as a younger professional in the internet age, is likely to feel more keenly. Mentions on sites like Politico and DailyIntel have a way of dominating Google results for your name.

In the hopes of altering the total mix of information, then, let me add: I met Rachel last fall during the citywide primaries. After work one day — I was counsel to an Assembly subcommittee at the time* — we put up posters together for one of the candidates (I think it was Bill De Blasio?) around Midtown East. I can say with confidence that Rachel is an intelligent, conscientious, kind, and truly dedicated person. New York politics should reward such people, and I find it hard to believe that Rachel would ever be at fault in a situation like this. She deserves all the success in the world, and has worked hard for it.

(More importantly, she didn’t tell our fellow campaigners that, while driving, I made a wrong turn and landed us briefly in Queens. Much appreciated, but now the secret’s out.)

Newspapers need to realize that the decision to publish someone’s name has reprecussions. Hopefully, in this case, it won’t.

* = Similarly, I have never stated on this blog for whom I worked, nor do I intend to now. On the off chance that someone figures it out, my views here are my own, not anyone else’s.

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