When a peeping tom poses as a journalist

Penny Nance President, Concerned Women for America
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WANTED: Experienced blogger to take up residence adjacent to Random House CEO Markus Dohle to conduct consistent surveillance on the Dohle family and provide regular blog posts on their activities. Minimum six-month commitment. Experience as a voyeur or peeping tom a big plus. Will provide advance finances to locate and rent accommodations in Scarsdale, N.Y.

As CEO of the largest public policy women’s group in the nation, Concerned Women for America (CWA), I would never place an ad like this. It’s wrong, and I think both the left and the right would agree that it is, at very least, unethical. However, Sarah Palin’s stalker/unofficial biographer is doing the very same thing — and Random House is paying him for his services.

Unfortunately there is a double standard, as there are with most issues surrounding Sarah Palin and nearly anything having to do with her. She’s an outspoken conservative woman who has endured nearly two years of endless, and unfair, media scrutiny. Sarah Palin and her family — from her toddler to her grandchild — is a target.

Why is it wrong for CWA to hire a blogger/stalker to conduct twenty-four hour surveillance on Markus Dohle (and his family) and write about it for the whole world to see and yet somehow right for Markus Dohle to pay someone to stalk Palin? It’s all about ideology. Sarah Palin has ignited a firestorm of hate against traditional conservative views. It’s been a vitriolic outpouring of dissent from those in mere disagreement her. Never mind hearing her out — her dissenters want to make her life a living hell.

What if the public figure in question being stalked were Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California)? The so-called “feminist” groups would lose their collective mind. If a conservative blogger moved in next door and monitored her comings and goings 24/7, peered into her children’s bedrooms, wrote about what she cooked at night, and took photos of her and her family in the swimming pool, we would never hear the end of it. But the feminists would be right. Stalking Barbara Boxer and monitoring and reporting on her everyday life in a creepy kind of peeping tom way would absolutely be wrong.

The liberals may defend the author as a “journalist” by saying Palin is a public figure, but aren’t even public figures entitled to some modicum of privacy? Are her children public figures? They live with her as well and play in the backyard, which can be seen by the neighbor’s deck until Palin builds a sky-high fence.

After a quick Internet search, I had Mr. Dohle’s address, complete with a photo and price of his home. But given that he lives in a $3 million dollar home in a well-to-do neighborhood in a suburb of New York City, it would seem that his family values their space and privacy. That’s understandable. I’d like to believe that Mr. Dohle would recognize that same need for privacy for others.

But apparently not.

It is unconscionable that Random House is essentially paying a peeping tom to stalk Sarah Palin and her family. These actions cross many ethical lines of true journalism. One reporter who claims to be a conservative himself at the Washington Post actually accused Sarah Palin of being “despicable” for breaking the story on her own Facebook page. So Sarah Palin is despicable for being upset that a journalist moved next door for the sole purpose of stalking her family?

Y’know, I’d lash out if it was my family under constant surveillance as well. I hope that the Palins construct an impenetrable fence around their home so they can have the privacy they need as a family and that the Random House author gets bored constantly looking at lumber all day.

Penny Nance is the CEO of Concerned Women for America, which is the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization with half a million members who have the common decency not to spy on their neighbors for money.