It's hard to see how a move to criminalize routine discussions between government officials and members of the press is anything but an attempt to shut down such conversations.
By the tone of some of the media coverage, you might have thought Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced a plan to slash military spending yesterday. On the front page of USA Today (1/27/12), under the headline "Panetta Backs Far Leaner Military," readers learn in the first paragraph: The Pentagon's new plan to cut Defense spending means a reduction of 100,000 troops, the retiring of ships and planes and closing of bases–moves that the Defense secretary said would not compromise security. The piece quotes critics of the cuts like Sen. Joe Lieberman and an analyst at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute. […]
(UPDATE: Today's Times includes a story about the WikiLeaks Iraq cable, under the somewhat strange headline "Cable Implicates Americans in Deaths of Iraqi Civilians." Still very little in the rest of the press– nothing on television, according to a search of the Nexis database). One of the main media tropes regarding WikiLeaks' release of State Department cables last year was that there was either nothing new to be learned, or that private conversations they revealed were remarkably consistent with what U.S. officials were saying publicly. That was totally misleading, but for many pundits the story seemed to end there. Now […]
Reading Mark Landler's and Elizabeth Bumiller's New York Times "tidbit out of an overheated Washington last week: 'President Obama and his top advisers have been meeting almost daily to discuss options for helping the Pakistani government and military repel the [Taliban] offensive,'" Tom Engelhardt (TomDispatch, 5/7/09) decides to toss some cold water on "this kind of atmosphere that naturally produces the bureaucratic equivalent of mass hysteria": Reports indicate that Obama's national security team has been convening regular "crisis" meetings and having "nearly nonstop discussions" at the White House, not to mention issuing alarming and alarmist statements of all sorts about […]
Reporting on last week's closure of the 150-year-old Denver Rocky Mountain News, Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!, 2/27/09) give us the financial backstory behind the fact that "the newspaper industry is going through a major, major upheaval in these last few days": "A lot of the papers ended up being bought in recent years, and their owners took on heavy debt to buy these papers out, and now they're finding now that the debt, the burden of the debt, plus the declining ad revenues, is creating major problems for them." That said, Gonzalez tells why he is "especially […]