The Watchdog Press As Lapdog Press

When Intelligence Agencies Make Backroom Deals With the Media, Democracy Loses by Bill Blunden.

From the post:

Steven Spielberg’s new movie The Post presents the story behind Katharine Graham’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers in The Washington Post. As the closing credits roll, one is left with the impression of a publisher who adopts an adversarial stance towards powerful government officials. Despite the director’s $50 million budget (or, perhaps, because of it), there are crucial details that are swept under the rug — details that might lead viewers towards a more accurate understanding of the relationship between the mainstream corporate press and the government.

The public record offers some clarity. Three years after Graham decided to go public with the Pentagon Papers, Seymour Hersh revealed a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program called Operation CHAOS in The New York Times. Hersh cited inside sources who described “a massive, illegal domestic intelligence operation during the Nixon Administration against the antiwar movement and other dissident groups in the United States.” Hersh’s article on CIA domestic operations is pertinent because, along with earlier revelations by Christopher Pyle, it prompted the formation of the Church Commission.

The Church Commission was chartered to examine abuses by United States intelligence agencies. In 1976, the commission’s final report (page 455 of Book I, entitled “Foreign and Military Intelligence”) found that the CIA maintained “a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda” and that “approximately 50 of the [Agency] assets are individual American journalists or employees of US media organizations.”

These initial findings were further corroborated by Carl Bernstein, who unearthed a web of “more than 400 American journalists who in the past twenty‑five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency.” Note that Bernstein was one of the Washington Post journalists who helped to expose the Watergate scandal. He published his piece on the CIA and the media with Rolling Stone magazine in 1977.

Show of hands. How many of you think the CIA, which freely violates surveillance and other laws, has not continued to suborn journalists, up to and including now?

Despite a recent assurance from someone whose opinion I value, journalists operating on a shoe-string have no corner on the public interest. Nor is that a guarantee they don’t have their own agendas.

Money is just one source of corruption. Access to classified information, pretige in the profession, deciding whose newsworthy and who is not, power over other reporters, are all factors that don’t operate in the public interest.

My presumption about undisclosed data in the possession of reporters accords with the State of Georgia, 24-4-22. Presumption from failure to produce evidence:

If a party has evidence in his power and within his reach by which he may repel a claim or charge against him but omits to produce it, or if he has more certain and satisfactory evidence in his power but relies on that which is of a weaker and inferior nature, a presumption arises that the charge or claim against him is well founded; but this presumption may be rebutted.

In short, evidence you don’t reveal is presumed to be against you.

That has worked for centuries in courts, why would I apply a different standard to reporters (or government officials)?

Comments are closed.