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FOX News Leaves No GOP Friend Behind

Reported by Ellen - February 26, 2005

It's amazing how often those Republicans get tricked, manipulated and abused by their enemies. The latest victim is ChoicePoint, the same company that purged the 2000 Florida voter rolls of felons and mistaken-for-felons (read "Democrats") so handily that federal legislation was enacted - after Bush was already in office, of course - to protect anyone "mistakenly" taken off a voter roll. More recently, the company had the misfortune, as FOXNews.com put it, to "unwittingly" (hand) at least 145,000 Americans' Social Security numbers and other private records to a ring of crooks."

Just in case anyone might be thinking of getting steamed up at such incompetence, FOX News is careful to let us know that we should really be giving ChoicePoint our sympathy and support instead. In fact, FOX didn't even mention the company's controversial role in the 2000 election.

You can usually tell from a FOXNews.com title what we are supposed to think about the following story. In this case, "Embattled Data Collector a Big Homeland Security Contractor" doesn't disappoint. "Embattled" is a word that engenders sympathy as does "Homeland Security Contractor." It isn't clear to me why FOX News calls ChoicePoint "embattled" - other than because it sounds better than "slipshod," "troubling history" or "screwed up." Were ChoicePoint's attackers the thieves who, posing as "legitimate debt collectors, insurance providers and other small-business officials," opened "50 ChoicePoint accounts and then, for a full year, were eligible to receive volumes of data on consumers, including Social Security numbers, names, addreses and credit reports?" Or were they the "experts" from such places as the non-liberal Cato Institute saying that if the company "is this careless... we should definitely step back and wonder about data mining."

Either way, FNC clearly thinks it's almost our patriotic duty to support ChoicePoint. Right in the first paragraph, we are told that the company provides "the tools in sophisticated homeland security screening and law enforcement surveillance efforts." Later, we learn that the company is "involved in everything from providing government employees with quick online access to criminal background checks, to helping law enforcement and intelligence agencies cultivate, sift through and swap the private and public records of American citizens - even their DNA." While that kind of bureaucratic access to our private lives might worry some people, to FOX News the worry is "how the massive theft will affect the integrity of such sweeping homeland security efforts as the screening of airline passengers and terrorist and criminal profiling. It also causes (experts) to wonder how safe Americans' personal information is - even (my emphasis) in the government's hands. Erick Stakelbeck, senior writer for... a Washington D.C.-based counter-terrorism think tank, said it would be just as possible under these circumstances for potential terrorists to steal identities and use them to carry out actions against Americans."

In other words, FOX's real concern is not for the hapless individuals whose privacy may have been wrongly invaded (unless they also had the further bad luck of being terrorism victims as a result) but the functioning of the government's surveillance systems.

Not to worry, though. "Chuck Jones, a spokesman for ChoicePoint, told FOXNews.com he was unaware of any impact the recent security breach could have on the company's government contracts." As for the individuals involved, FOX reports that ChoicePoint "has since mailed out notifications to each of the estimated 145,000 people affected and has hired a credit-monitoring company to keep watch on the credit reports of each victim." What about the hundreds of other hassles involved in an identity theft that are not credit-related such as driver's license problems, traffic tickets, medical records, employment history, etc.? FOX News didn't say.

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