Be careful: Your e-mails could end up in the New York Times (NWA News)

By Cynthia Hubert The Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — MSNBC host Keith Olbermann probably assumed he was making a private joke when he described a colleague as “ dumber than a suitcase of rocks” in an e-mail message.

Big mistake.

Last month, his comments about fellow TV personality Rita Cosby showed up in the New York Daily News, and Olbermann had some explaining to do.

In a world where personal missives can instantly tour the globe with a click of the “ send” or “ forward ” button, others have suffered far greater consequences. When they get into the wrong hands, indiscreet e-mails can cost people jobs, clients, business deals, even marriages.

“ People are enormously careless about e-mail, until they get burned, ” said Atlanta attorney John Mayoue. Electronic messages, Mayoue said, have become “ the best, most foolproof” way of outing cheating spouses in divorce cases, and they can cause all kinds of other problems for unsuspecting senders.