Monday, April 25, 2011

NYtimes: big resources, small principles

who could forget editor bill keller's sneering take-down of julian assange and wikileaks a couple of months back, proving once again that the times is perfectly willing to toss sources under the bus, repudiating the messenger to kowtow to the demands of its imperial overlords, while shamelessly pretending to be a public watchdog.

today comes a hot new bundle of secret documents presented as the enterprise of the times, "The Guantánamo Files". it's only somewhere, lost in a sidebar to today's paper-leading story, that this bizarre acknowledgement of the documents' actual source appears:
These articles are based on a huge trove of secret documents leaked last year to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks and made available to The New York Times by another source on the condition of anonymity.
one had to do considerable due diligence -- of a sort the times so infrequently puts forth on its own initiative these days -- to find the acknowledgement due wikileaks, as the times peddles a fantastic storyline that manages to paint assange and bradley manning completely out of a story that depends on their courage and initiative for its very existence.

they suffer persecution and torture, in manning's case, so that the times can cavalierly present their sacrifice as its own work -- simply because some "anonymous" source has apparently engaged in some duplicity to provide documents outside the group with which wikileaks is now working to disseminate the cache of secret documents.

the times, it will be recalled, originally shared in the release of the state department documents late last year, along with the UK guardian. after a very public falling out with assange -- which reeked to the high heavens of a coordinated attempt between the state and its favored media minions to forever silence wikileaks, and anyone else who aspired to likewise expose the nauseating machinations of the corporate state.

it seems to me, at least, that the times' participation in the present set of revelations is simply at matter of proactive messaging on the times' part, in order to spin the story in a way that's most favorable in total to the state's interests. while seeming on the surface to be a tantalizing expose of the guantanamo story, it will serve primarily as a smokescreen behind which the more egregiously amoral material can be played down and written out of the narrative that will by necessity be repeated ad nauseam by participating second-string media outlets nationwide.

the times will hide behind nostrums like its "responsibility" to protect government "sources and methods," and to protect the all-important "national security" interests of the US and its subsidiary governments -- in effect giving the government opportunity to exercise prior restraint on the news copy in the paper -- while granting a token amount of plausible denialability to the times in its role as the state's preferred messenger.

as newspaper of record and bellwether for the corporate media cluster in the US, the times is rich in resources -- as befits an outfit of its stature within the pecking order -- but when it comes to independence from those it covers, and principle as it pertains to protecting and defending whistleblowers and gadflies that cross the government it so assiduously courts for privilege and access, the times stands as a midget beside courageous independent media outfits with an abundance of courage, but only a ten-thousandth of the resources.

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