Thursday, December 30, 2010

Corporate-owned media and government agencies (i.e. the C.I.A.): two close friends working closely together for many, many years

Following up Sir Charles' recent post about the pathetic state of our mainstream press--who continue to do their masters' bidding while oblivious to pesky concerns like ethics and responsibility to readers, and who see nothing remotely questionable about the cozy relationships they enjoy with government officials--I wanted to call everyone's attention to a fascinating, in-depth, and surprisingly timeless (and depressingly timely) article written in the Rolling Stone by Pulitzer-winning journalist Carl Bernstein, which I found linked in comments at Glenn Greenwald's place.

In this excellent article--written in 1977, mind you--Bernstein discusses the beyond-close friendship of top American journalists and media outlets and the Central Intelligence Agency, specifically with regard to the procuring and sharing of information and sources.

I think you'll find it incredibly illuminating--certainly it goes a long way toward explaining the genesis of that loathsome subset of entrenched, maintain-access-at-all-costs journos whom we in Left Blogistan often call "The Villagers".

Read the whole thing. Plus ça change, as they say... (bolds are mine):

The history of the CIA’s involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception for the following principal reasons:

The use of journalists has been among the most productive means of intelligence‑gathering employed by the CIA. Although the Agency has cut back sharply on the use of reporters since 1973 primarily as a result of pressure from the media), some journalist‑operatives are still posted abroad.

Further investigation into the matter, CIA officials say, would inevitably reveal a series of embarrassing relationships in the 1950s and 1960s with some of the most powerful organizations and individuals in American journalism.

Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were Williarn Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Tirne Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the LouisviIle Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune.

By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.

The CIA’s use of the American news media has been much more extensive than Agency officials have acknowledged publicly or in closed sessions with members of Congress.

(Bear in mind, Bernstein wrote this in 1977; today, after 9/11 and with the relatively recent passage of legislation like the Patriot Act, and the attendant erosion of privacy rights and the White House and NSA's widespread use of warrantless wiretapping of the phones of citizens and journalists alike, it is highly likely that this "special relationship" is no less extensive now than it was then, and indeed is probably even more far-reaching and corrosive in its scope and effect.)