California Attorney General Jerry Brown's communications director illegally recorded Brown's conversations with reporters, an act that made the conversations themselves subject to California's public records law. The L.A. Times and other papers published them, which makes one reporter very uncomfortable.
L.A. Times political columnist George Skelton just doesn't think it's right for poor reporters to have their sides of interviews with political figures publicized just because the law says people are entitled to access documents created by their government:
The public records act seems to be running amok when a reporter's private interview with a public figure can be handed over to competitors. I don't mind my interviews being taped. I just don't want the transcript being given out to rivals or political hacks.
I might want to hold back some of the quotes and info for a future column. Or I might be unsure how an answer should be interpreted.
Amok! We have something of an interest in the notion of publicizing reporters' private conversations with government employees via open records laws, so it should go without saying that we think it's awesome. But Skelton's smug disapproval is a crystalline distillation of why people hate reporters: Government employees labor under open records laws that perpetually threaten to lay bare virtually every word they write, and newspapers like Skelton's employer are the primary engine for forcing, through frequent lawsuits, state and federal agencies to live up to their obligations under those laws. But that's all supposed to apply to somebody else. Apply it to a reporter and—well, what about the competition?! What if I want to hold back some of the things back? Isn't there some kind of immunity, or something? It just seems wrong to publish things that some people don't want published, doesn't it? Icky.