Nothing that’s recorded is private. Just look at the Nixon administration. If you’re on a listserv with 500 other people, you have to assume that you are e-mailing to a public forum. Even if all 500 folks are sworn to secrecy, what about their e-mails accounts? Who’s sharing an e-mail account with their spouse, or reading it on a PC their hacker teen has access to, or is at work where every tidbit is being packet-sniffed by paranoid sysadmins? If there’s only a 1% chance of something leaking, well you got four or five copies of that list gone off to whomever.
If you’re a journalist, someone whose job is to dig up uncomfortable facts about people, you really ought to know better than to engage in violent political revenge fantasies in such a forum.
All this shows is that this little clique of people were venal and small-minded and too stupid to realize they were giving hundreds of other people documentary evidence of their venal stupidity.