The defense that Michael Arrington and TechCrunch have mounted against charges that the tech-news site has violated ethical norms comes down to: “Trust me.”
But of course, that won't cut it. As with laws, ethics rules exist because people can't be trusted to always police themselves. Even if most of us adhere to the law, there will always be some who don't. We can't predict who will and who won't police themselves, or who will do so in some instances but not others. We've seen what happens on Wall Street when there are no rules governing certain kinds of behavior, and when the rules that are in place are lightly enforced. People go hog-wild.