creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
David Sirota
David Sirota
25 Jul 2014
Stadium Subsidies Financed By Pension Cuts

As states and cities grapple with budget shortfalls, many are betting big on an unproven formula: Slash … Read More.

18 Jul 2014
A Local Fight for the Future of the Internet

The business lobby often demands that government get out of the way of private corporations, so that … Read More.

11 Jul 2014
Big Money's New Friends and Permanent Interests

In politics, as the old saying goes, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies - there are only … Read More.

America's Newest Global War

Comment

Out of all the harrowing storylines in journalist Jeremy Scahill's new film "Dirty Wars," the one about Abdulelah Haider Shaye best spotlights the U.S. government's new assault against press freedom.

Shaye is the Yemeni journalist who in 2009 exposed his government's cover-up of a U.S. missile strike that, according to McClatchy's newswire, ended up killing "dozens of civilians, including 14 women and 21 children." McClatchy notes that for the supposed crime of committing journalism, Shaye was sentenced to 5 years in prison following a trial that "was widely condemned as a sham" by watchdog groups and experts who noted that the prosecution did not "offer any substantive evidence to support (its) charges."

What, you might ask, does this have to do with the American government's attitude toward press freedom? That's where Scahill's movie comes in. As the film shows, when international pressure moved the Yemeni government to finally consider pardoning Shaye, President Obama personally intervened, using a phone call with Yemen's leader to halt the journalist's release.

Had this been an isolated incident, it might be easy to write off. But the president's move to criminalize the reporting of inconvenient facts is sadly emblematic of his administration's larger war against journalism. And, mind you, the word "war" is no overstatement.

As New York Times media correspondent David Carr put it: "If you add up the pulling of news organization phone records (The Associated Press), the tracking of individual reporters (Fox News), and the effort by the current administration to go after sources (seven instances and counting in which a government official has been criminally charged with leaking classified information to the news media), suggesting that there is a war on the press is less hyperbole than simple math."

In this unprecedented global war, President Obama has been backed by the combined power of Justice Department prosecutors, FBI surveillance agents, State Department diplomats and, perhaps most troubling of all, a cadre of high-profile Benedict Arnolds within the media itself.

One of them is Meet the Press host David Gregory, who, after saying journalist Glenn Greenwald "aided and abetted" NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, demanded to know of the reporter: "Why shouldn't you be charged with a crime?" On the same Meet the Press program, NBC's Chuck Todd didn't want to know whether the NSA's surveillance is illegal, but instead demanded to know "how much was (Greenwald) involved in the plot" to expose the NSA's potential crimes. They were subsequently followed up by New York Times business reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin, who, after years of writing hagiography that helped Wall Streeters avoid prosecution, called for Greenwald's arrest.

Not surprisingly, the result of all this is a culture of fear. As the CEO of the Associated Press recently said, there has been a "chilling effect on newsgathering" thanks to an assault which seems "tailor-made to comfort authoritarian regimes that want to suppress their own news media."

By definition, the consequences of that "chilling effect" will be difficult to see — stories never reported, facts never unearthed and whistles never blown. In cases like Shaye's, there will also be journalists not released from prison.

No doubt, the resulting news vacuum is exactly what the Obama administration wants. After all, even if the White House's version of events is wildly inaccurate, deliberately misleading or completely untrue, such a vacuum allows the official story to become the only story.

That kind of information monopoly is great for the president, and it is perfectly acceptable to the courtiers and glorified television actors in the Washington press corps who masquerade as real journalists. But it is quite the opposite for a world that desperately needs more independent reporting and assumption-challenging journalism, not less.

David Sirota is the best-selling author of the books "Hostile Takeover," "The Uprising" and "Back to Our Future." Email him at ds@davidsirota.com, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at www.davidsirota.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM



Comments

2 Comments | Post Comment
I am the government, why should I not know what it is I am doing!
Comment: #1
Posted by: Daniel Becker
Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:49 AM
The government has effectivly crushed all avenues to enact change in this country. It controls the media. It infiltrates protests and attests protesters. It crushes all competition that won't play ball. Sadly, there is no way to stop it now. I have no doubt David is on some kind of "troublesome writer" watchlist, while the loyal lapdogs at MSNBC are enjoying steak dinners at the White House. Still, your efforts are appriciated David. I'm just pessemistic about the whole situation.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:39 AM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
David Sirota
Jul. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
29 30 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Michelle Malkin
Michelle MalkinUpdated 25 Jul 2014
Scott Rasmussen
Scott RasmussenUpdated 25 Jul 2014
David Harsanyi
David HarsanyiUpdated 25 Jul 2014

4 Feb 2011 With Democracy or Against It -- There's No In Between

8 Nov 2013 The Connection Between Poverty and Education

22 Feb 2008 A Trade Transformation