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Lawrence Lessig’s classy response to being insulted in John Podesta’s leaked emails

Lawrence Lessig Discusses Campaign Finance And The 2016 Election
Lawrence Lessig.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

If the WikiLeaks release of John Podesta’s campaign emails has taught us one thing, it’s that the release of private emails onto the internet can be very embarrassing.

Take a now-awkward exchange between Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, and Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden, about Lawrence Lessig, a lawyer and Harvard University professor who briefly placed a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Podesta finds him “pompous.” Tanden, it turns out, “fucking hate[s] that guy.”

Here is the email thread:

Lessig responded on his blog in a manner first lady Michelle Obama would be proud of: He went high.

I’m a big believer in leaks for the public interest. That’s why I support Snowden, and why I believe the President should pardon him.

But I can’t for the life of me see the public good in a leak like this — at least one that reveals no crime or violation of any important public policy.

We all deserve privacy. The burdens of public service are insane enough without the perpetual threat that every thought shared with a friend becomes Twitter fodder. Neera has only ever served in the public (and public interest) sector. Her work has always and only been devoted to advancing her vision of the public good. It is not right that she should bear the burden of this sort of breach.

In other words, unless there is some bombshell — which WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange keeps alluding to — these emails have yet to expose massive political secrecy or wrongdoing. They do, however, likely make for a lot of coming apologies.