The compelling interest in the public knowing that a high-ranking public official has taken part in highly controversial and perhaps even illegal actions, in the view of these news outlets, is apparently outweighed by their duty, as they see it, to keep the government's secrets.
TV news is often not all that informative. Sometimes that's because the reports are so short–a few hundred words. But then there are TV reports that manage to use their short space to garble the details of a story completely. ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl's piece about the Senate confirmation hearing for Obama's CIA pick John Brennan fit into the latter category.
FAIR TV: Big Papers Withhold News, Curious 'Confirmation' of Israeli Gov't Claims, 60 Minutes Plays Softball
This week on FAIR TV we take a look at the the "informal arrangement" between several media outlets–including the New York Times and the Washington Post– to not report news about a CIA drone base.
We also talk about the curious standard for "confirming" news from Israeli government officials, and we take a look at the 60 Minutes softball interview with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Last night, MSNBC's Chris Matthews hosted a discussion on the Obama administration's recently disclosed "white paper" justifying its policy of using drones to strike at U.S. citizens. Matthews ultimately deciding that the policy was defensible–on the grounds that the CIA director Leon Panetta goes to church.
The Obama administration has pursued an unprecedented campaign to prosecute whistleblowers. The fact that John Kirikaou is facing such punishment reinforces the sense that he should be viewed as such a whistleblower, someone who was trying to expose the CIA's torture practices. But was that really his motivation?
Reporting on the news that President Barack Obama plans to nominate his terrorism adviser John Brennan to be head of the CIA, the New York Times writes that critics had been "claiming that…Brennan had supported, or at least had failed to stop, the use of interrogation techniques like waterboarding."
That Brennan was a torture supporter is not a claim, though–it's a matter of public record.
A Los Angeles Times editorial (2/7/12) begins: When the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism released a report Sunday claiming that U.S. drone strikes have killed dozens of civilian rescuers and mourners in Pakistan, the American media scarcely noticed. It's a good point.The Bureau's report got remarkably little media attention. A New York Times story (which included an anonymous U.S. official smearing the researchers as Al-Qaeda sympathizers) might be the only story in the mainstream media; the only stories coming up in the Nexis news database are from Antiwar.com (2/5/12) and papers in Pakistan. The report was covered on Democracy Now! [...]
The new issue of Time magazine promises on its cover "Essential Info for the Year Ahead." One apparently essential report: U.S. drones are awesome. The report–written by Mark Thompson, available to subscribers only explains that a "hot military trend" this way: Today's generals and admirals want weapons that are smaller, remote-controlled and bristling with intelligence. In short, more drones that can tightly target terrorists, deliver larger payloads and are some of the best spies the U.S. has ever produced, even if they occasionally get captured in Iran or crash on landing at secret bases. And also, you know, kill innocent [...]
Documents discovered in Libya suggest a close relationship between the Libyan government and the CIA. The New York Times described it this way on September 3: TRIPOLI, Libya — Documents found at the abandoned office of Libya's former spymaster appear to provide new details of the close relations the Central Intelligence Agency shared with the Libyan intelligence service — most notably suggesting that the Americans sent terrorism suspects at least eight times for questioning in Libya despite that country's reputation for torture. And then today (9/6/11) the Times put it this way: The cooperation appeared to be far greater with [...]
The New York Times has a long piece (8/12/11) looking at the question of how many civilians in Pakistan are killed by CIA drones. The agency doesn't even speak about the program on the record, except to make the far-fetched claim that no civilians have died in the past year or so. The article, written by Scott Shane, includes some useful criticism of the CIA, and it's hard not to conclude that the agency's claims are not very credible. But the real problem with the piece is that it gives much weight to the CIA's defense at all, using their [...]
Every so often reports surface about the Justice Department's prosecution of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling–often due to the government's attempts to convince New York Times reporter James Risen to testify about his interactions with Sterling. The Times reported on the latest such efforts yesterday (5/25/11): Federal prosecutors are trying to force the author of a book on the CIA to testify at a criminal trial about who leaked information to him about the agency's effort to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program at the end of the Clinton administration. Such efforts to get journalists to testify often lead media outlets to [...]
On the release of CIA agent Raymond Davis, who was held in Pakistan on charges of killing two Pakistani men on a street in Lahore, the Times explains the reaction (3/17/11) The Davis episode was particularly sensitive because of the resentment among Pakistanis who believe that a growing American security contingent roams the country with relative impunity. The Davis incident would seem to confirm this "belief," wouldn't it?
Yesterday the Guardian reported that Raymond Davis, the American held in Pakistan on charges of killing two men last month in Lahore, was working for the CIA. The Davis case has received sustained coverage in the U.S. media and is the subject of intense U.S lobbying. All the while U.S. officials referred to Davis as a "diplomat." Today the New York Times has posted a story on its website catching up with the Guardian. The most notable revelation, though, comes when the Times admits that it knew Davis' status–but obeyed a government request to keep it quiet: The New York [...]