Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why truth is more important than civility

I don't give a shit if Glenn Greenwald is a rude bastard.  I don't fucking care if Michael Hastings is an arrogant asshole.  What I care about is whether they're telling me truths that I need to know to be a well-informed, effective citizen of a democracy.  Greenwald:

Granting anonymity to powerful political and military officials to attack journalists, watchdogs and whistleblowers is about the lowest and most journalistically reckless act a reporter and their editors can undertake -- recall this recent anonymous attack on departing TARP watchdog Neil Barofsky by a Treasury official and enabled by The Washington Post -- as it turns these media outlets into nothing more than protectors of those officials and mindless amplifiers of their attacks, which, thanks to the anonymity, can never be engaged. But that's what they want to be; it's what they are; and that's why these officials tell them they will comment only under the cover of anonymity: because they know it will be immediately granted the minute it's demanded regardless of whether there is any journalistic justification for it.

Anonymity does have a valid purpose in journalism: its legitimate purpose is to protect the vulnerable and powerless when they expose wrongdoing by those who wield power. But most establishment journalists have completely reversed that, so that anonymity is used to protect those with the most power: to enable them to make all sorts of public claims and launch all kinds of attacks on critics without being accountable. When anonymity is used for those purposes, it is inherently and incomparably corrupt (that, of course, is the dynamic that led to public acceptance of patently false claims justifying the Iraq War). But this perversion of anonymity from what it was supposed to be (a means of holding the powerful accountable) into a power-shielding weapon is simply a microcosm of the broader reversal by establishment journalists of the old dictate to "afflict the powerful and comfort the powerless." Most establishment journalists -- by definition -- do exactly the opposite, and their eagerness to indiscriminately grant anonymity to the nation's most powerful officials is simply one manifestation of that power-serving mindset.
What I want is to avoid the big media's serving me bullshit, calling it foie gras, and expecting me to like the fucking taste.

The use by the military of psy ops on elected officials is not treason, but it's a crime.  I'm not disposed to treat that lightly.
"My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave," says Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, the leader of the IO unit, who received an official reprimand after bucking orders. "I’m prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you’re crossing a line."
I'm guessing the only bird Holmes will ever see won't be very goddamn polite, but even so, a Lt. Col. is not exactly a wet-behind-the-ears OCS graduate.

One true exceptionalism of America has been our unwillingness to sit still for official bullshit.  When did we lose that?

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