Published on Monday, February 12, 2007.
So I have spent a good deal of this evening reading the accounts of the “highly” secretive, “ultra-classified” and “on monumental background” Iran briefing that the White House orchestrated today, just in time for Monday’s breaking news. What is quite clear is that US corporate press has become an extension of the White House public relations department.
Under what circumstances would the following criteria for a news story ever be considered “journalism:”
1). Reporters met with experts and analysts who would not provide their names, background, or any identifying information – even off the record. There is no way to know who these unnamed experts were, what made them experts, or anything that could be used to confirm or debunk their allegations. In other words, the sources were not vetted and unknown.
2). The allegations that Iran was responsible for the downing of US helicopter in Iraq by using advanced weapons were based on a set of photographs of unknown origin, date, time, or any other contextual information that could be confirmed or debunked. In other words, the facts of the story are unsupportable and cannot be in any way explored.
3). The White House led officials present at the briefing would not give their names either, despite this presentation being cleared by the White House. In other words, despite this not being a leak, no one would stand by the story.
4). The alleged intelligence was put together like a presentation one would find at a new product roll out, planned weeks in advance even. Yet the reason given for providing this information to the press is concern for US troops on the ground in Iraq. Obviously something is wrong with either the motive (when one works a story, one wants to understand motive for informaton provided). The motive, as claimed, is concern for the troops – but if there was concern for the troops, why did this presentation require weeks of planning? If there was enough evidence to support a full blown briefing such as this, then instead of planning for a public relations extravaganza, one would think that the White House might be doing something more important – for example, holding emergency briefings for Congress.
5). White House officials, however, caution that this information cannot be independently verified.
So, we have source of unknown credentials, allegations based on evidence that cannot be vetted or properly investigated, officials who despite being authorized to present this information to the press are unwilling to go on the record, and a motive for providing this information that appears to be disingenuous. What then, I ask, makes this news? Furthermore, what makes this front page material with titles ranging from the mild “Iran arming insurgents sources say” to the absurd “Iran killing US soldiers in Iraq?”
If the White House wants to stage a public relations event, they can do so by the light of day. Journalists agreeing to attend this charade and then reporting on it as though it were a). news and b). credible, need to resign.
Read the rest here.