Media Intimidation: Determined Policy or Wishful Thinking?

19 Dec
December 14, 2013

Editorial By Anthony Wile

The National Journal reports:

Adversarial journalism has been replaced by secretarial journalism. Obamacare’s glitches have not slowed the trend.

This is not exactly a profound statement but it captures the times. Like much in the National Journal, it is an observation rather than an explanation.

The explanation would come in two stages. First, we explain it via the following:

  • In England, top editors are on trial for listening in on celebrity conversations. The trial has been a bit mitigated in terms of sensationalism by revelations that British and US Intel were listening in illegally on most of the rest of the world, but that hasn’t halted it.
  • In the US a number of reporters have been thrown in jail for not revealing their sources to government agencies.
  • In Japan, the federal government has just passed a state secrets law …

Reporters who divulge secrets could face new law’s wrath: Ishiba …Two days before the contentious state secrets law getting the official nod, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba waded into the fray Wednesday by saying journalists could be punished for reporting state-designated classified information, only to backpedal slightly.

“It is legal to obtain the information. But if reporting state secrets threatens our national security, common sense tells me reporting will be somehow restricted,” Ishiba said at the Japan National Press Club. The law stipulates that public servants who handle classified information could face a maximum of 10 years in prison for leaking such data.

It is certainly feasible to draw the conclusion from the above that reporters are being systematically intimidated, which is the reason for “secretarial journalism.”

But from the above, we can also derive the second stage of the explanation, which is that none of this is entirely coincidental: That it is becoming a kind of global policy. The following excerpts are taken from fairly recent or very recent articles:

• Turkey accused of pursuing campaign of intimidation against media … Two independent reports have found evidence of a pattern of harassment against writers … Since Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power in 2003, there has been a new attitude towards journalists. Ankara is pursuing a systematic campaign of intimidation against the Turkish media, including the prosecution and jailing of writers, and demands for those who challenge government policies or actions to be sacked, two independent investigations have concluded. – The Guardian

• Intimidating the Press … The Obama administration bragged about ‘controlling the press’ during the 2008 election and it appears they’ve never stopped trying to control them. When the Associated Press released a bombshell report about how the Obama administration was spying on them, it turned out to be only the beginning. Fox News and CBS would later be victims of an out-of-control administration using the Espionage Act to go after reporters who published articles damaging to the government. – Glenn Beck

• Putin dissolves state news agency, tightens grip on Russia media … President Vladimir Putin tightened his control over Russia’s media on Monday by dissolving the main state news agency and replacing it with an organization that is to promote Moscow’s image abroad. The move to abolish RIA Novosti and create a news agency to be known as Rossiya Segodnya is the second in two weeks strengthening Putin’s hold on the media as he tries to reassert his authority after protests against his rule. – Reuters

• The Meaning of China’s Crackdown on the Foreign Press … The Chinese government is threatening to expel nearly two dozen foreign correspondents, working for the Times and Bloomberg News, in retaliation for investigations that exposed the private wealth of Chinese leaders. It is the Chinese government’s most dramatic attempt to insulate itself from scrutiny in the thirty-five years since China began opening to the world. We won’t know if it’s prepared to follow through on the threat for another week or two, when correspondents’ annual visas begin to expire. So far, it has declined to renew them. Unless the government changes course, reporters and their dependents will be required to leave the country before the end of the year.

In addition to the above reports, there is this regarding the EU from nearly a year ago, reported by FrontPage, the Internet magazine:

Surely “terrifying” is the mot juste for a new report, A Free and Pluralistic Media to Sustain European Democracy, produced by the EU’s High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism, or HLG for short.

The HLG’s report provides a nice, slick example of how to turn freedom and diversity into their opposites. Here’s the formula. Start by declaring that “a free and pluralistic media is crucial for European democracy.” Then point out that “there are currently a number of challenges which can potentially restrict journalistic freedom or reduce pluralism.” And whose job is it to maintain journalistic freedom and pluralism in the face of these challenges?

Why, the government’s, of course. (A neat trick, by the way, given that one of the challenges listed is “political influence.”) To this end, the HLG calls on EU member states to set up “independent media councils with a politically and culturally balanced and socially diverse membership” that would be empowered “to investigate complaints,” ensure “that media organisations have published a code of conduct,” and so on.

These councils “should have real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status.” Yes, you read that right: these councils – in the name of journalistic freedom – should be able to stop certain journalists from practicing journalism.

While the EU has not recently been featured in any censorship headlines, there is little doubt from this report what Eurocrats are contemplating – stripping of media of freedoms.

Britain is already involved, along with the US, in just this sort of strategy. In addition to pressing charges against Murdoch journalists in England for cell-phone transgressions, the British “conservative” government is continually taking aim at the Internet. Here, from Democratic Underground:

Britain’s harsh crackdown on Internet porn prompts free-speech debate … In a land whose uptight reputation is belied by its wicked ways, the Conservative-led British government is in the midst of a crusade to enact some of the strictest curbs on pornography in the Western world.

Family-friendly filters will soon be automatically installed when most new subscribers sign up for Internet service, with customers wishing to view pornography needing to make a conscious choice to turn them off. Before the end of next year, most of the 21 million wired households in Britain will also be placed in the awkward position of having to declare whether they want to keep access to legal online pornography or have it blocked by their telecommunications providers.

The British attack on the Internet is not, of course, an attack merely on pornography. It has been reported that the “family friendly filters” will filter a good deal more than porn – and that alternative media websites that have inconveniently told the truth about Britain’s growing sociopolitical authoritarianism shall also be filtered out.

In the US, as in Britain, censorship is proceeding on several tracks. For the Obama administration, a favorite ruse justifying censorship is to cite “national security.” Here from ProPublica:

Charting Obama’s Crackdown on National Security Leaks … Bradley Manning’s conviction under the Espionage Act is the latest development in the Obama administration’s push to prosecute leaks. We’ve updated our timeline with the most recent events.

Despite promises to strengthen protections for whistleblowers, the Obama administration has launched an aggressive crackdown on government employees who have leaked national security information to the press.

With charges filed against NSA leaker Edward Snowden this June, the administration has brought a total of seven cases under the Espionage Act, which dates from World War I and criminalizes disclosing information “relating to the national defense.” Prior to the current administration, there had been only three known cases resulting in indictments in which the Espionage Act was used to prosecute government officials for leaks.

The administration has also targeted journalists. In May, it was revealed that the Department of Justice had secretly seized AP reporters’ phone records while investigating a potential CIA leak, and targeted a Fox News reporter as part of a criminal leak case (outlined below). No journalist has been charged with a crime. But the news prompted an outcry that Obama’s hard line on leaks could have a “chilling effect” on investigative reporting that depends on inside sources. (In response, the Justice Department issued new guidelines limiting when journalists’ records can be sought.)

A spokesman for the Department of Justice told us the government “does not target whistleblowers.” As they point out, government whistleblower protections shield only those who raise their concerns through the proper channels within their agency—not through leaks to the media or other unauthorized persons.

The trouble with the above statement is that government whistleblowers rarely receive fair treatment. In other words, those who do comply often find they are retaliated against. Those who fear such retaliation and choose to go outside formal channels may find themselves the target of aggressive criminal enforcement actions.

Even more disturbingly, many high-profile whistleblowers prove one way or another to be probable false-flag agents. When examined closely, the concerns they express are often skewed to emphasize policy points to support certain government programs and policies, albeit at the expense of others.

While these are parochial, or at least limited concerns, the larger picture grows increasingly dismal. In both the US and Britain – nations that served as examples of press freedom year after year – signs of determined media repression are emerging.

In both countries, the so-called war on terror – and “security concerns” generally – are cited as reasons for suppressing journalistic endeavors. The main trouble with this, of course, is that there is likely little evidence that there IS a war on terror … not a credible one anyway. And the phantasmagoria of security concerns is equally dubious.

After 9/11, Congress was almost immediately served up a 1,000-page Patriot Act. While there are many reasons why a Patriot Act may have been constructed previously, there can be no doubt that a “terrorist” act provided the justification for its passage.

And since then, many other crackdowns on personal and media freedoms have taken place in the supercharged atmosphere of security paranoia. The latest to have been presented to the public is, of course, an all-encompassing “surveillance state” that the leaking of whistleblower hero Edward Snowden has conveniently revealed.

It seems that the war on terror cuts two ways. On the one hand, it gives Western government an apparently free hand to spy on its citizens without restraint. On the other, citizens who attempt to report on obvious government repression – or contemplated repression – may face stiff civil and criminal penalties.

What the National Journal disparagingly calls “secretarial journalism” is not being driven merely by leftist reporters intent on doing Barack Obama’s bidding. It is a much more pervasive and serious problem that includes the establishment of the modern Surveillance State.

We must ask ourselves, then, who would be driving this sort of media repression? (Why, the same groups that don’t want the increasing rush toward globalism exposed and explained.) This is perhaps the beginning of an international endgame and the top men in the banking community wish to pursue their agenda with as little illumination as possible.

Whether that can be accomplished in this era of the Internet Reformation or is merely wishful thinking remains to be seen …

Published by The Daily Bell – www.thedailybell.com – All Rights Reserved.

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