Sunday, April 23, 2006

Heartless Whores

After reading the Washington Post article about the recently fired CIA analyst, I can totally understand why my journalism professor once said that whistleblowers take great risks when they talk to reporters.

If a reader didn't know any better when reading the story, he or she would think the Post was an arm of the CIA instead of the newspaper which broke the story that only last week garnered the paper and its reporter a Pulitzer Prize for "beat reporting."

The Post front-pages the article with the following lede, "CIA Officer's Job Made Any Leaks More Delicate," stating the obvious.

Of course the leak was DELICATE. You're talking about "secret prisons" in former Soviet satellite nations, for crying out loud!

In a sad way, the lede and story almost remind me of Tim Russert and Bob Woodward pontificating all over television about the Valerie Plame case in the third person, as if they weren't privy to the most intimate details on the subject. Here's what the Post writes:

The rare firing last week of a CIA officer accused of leaking information to the news media stems both from the sensitivity of the subjects she allegedly discussed and the Bush administration's forceful efforts to block national security disclosures that have proved embarrassing or caused operational problems, according to current and former intelligence officials.


A majority of CIA officers would probably "find the action taken [against McCarthy] correct," said a former senior intelligence official who said he had discussed the matter with former colleagues in the past day. "A small number might support her, but the ethic of the business is not to" leak, and instead to express one's dissenting views through internal grievance channels.

And of course, the Post was sure to point out that the paper took great pains to minimize any harm to national security.

The Post withheld the names of the countries from its account at the administration's request. The article attributed its information to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.
Almost makes me want to puke.

Yes, same as the New York Times article about secret spying, which they held for a year until our idiot president was safely reelected, newspaper conglomerates (and yes, that especially includes the Washington Post) need to get it straight. They are supposed to serve the public's interest and their right to know when the government breaks national and international laws; and strongly advocate on behalf of whistleblowers, not the other way around.

The reason why readership is dropping nearly as fast as Bush's poll numbers is that the public inherently knows when they are being duped by the media and government.

My journalism ethics professor explained to his incredulour class that whistleblowers risk career, freedom and financial security when they start blabbing to reporters; and his advice to anyone who would contemplate leaking a major story to a newspaper was to think really hard about it and then keep quiet.

For according to him, any leaker expecting the media to come his or her aid and publicly defend them would be gravely mistaken; and you know what? He was absolutely right.

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