FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Scoundrel Time: Lessons in Patriotism and Journalism From a Master

by

I had a short exchange on Twitter last night with a national journalist of some note: Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek. In this brief encounter, I learned a remarkable fact: no one can criticize the CIA in any way — unless you actually work for the CIA! And here I thought the purpose of journalism was to, you know, serve as watchdog on government, “speak truth to power,” question, probe, dig for facts and that kind of thing. But nope, that’s not it at all.

It turns out only those in power have the right to question, uh, those in power. Everyone else should “go crawl off and watch cartoons” and let the “adults” in power do their work. I have been in journalism, directly and tangentially, for 39 years, but I must admit that I never learned this secret until now. No wonder I never made it to Newsweek!

It began when I replied to a tweet by Eichenwald, questioning his use of the word “misinformation” for information that was actually true, whatever the source of the information might be. I also sought to ascertain the degree of credence he will give to the CIA in the interesting new political arrangement we are about to experience after Jan. 20. I thought I spoke — as is always my wont — with sweet reason. But Mr. Eichenwald seemed to suffer some sort of deep emotional wound from my comments and responded accordingly. Here is the exchange:

Kurt Eichenwald ‏@kurteichenwald

As a reporter, I say this: If reporters say they were not responsible for aiding a Russian disinformation campaign, they are ignorant fools.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque

@kurteichenwald Whatever their provenance, the emails revealed actual facts. They weren’t ‘misinformation.’

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque

@kurteichenwald And if the emails had revealed a straightforward campaign working honestly for its candidate? No scandal, no story.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque

@kurteichenwald Instead they revealed collusion between ‘Brooklyn’ and the DNC to skew the nominating process. That was the story.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque

@kurteichenwald By the way; when the CIA comes to terms w/Trump, which will certainly happen, will you still take their word as gospel?

Cameth swiftly the reply — or replies — from the man his own self:

Kurt Eichenwald ‏@kurteichenwald

@empireburlesque CIA analysts? Yes. Politicians who present the analysis, including those at top? No.

Kurt Eichenwald ‏@kurteichenwald

@empireburlesque Analysts could get a lot more money and a lot more freedom elsewhere. They sacrifice it for belief in duty. And then …

Kurt Eichenwald ‏@kurteichenwald

@empireburlesque …ppl like u who have never met one sneers in contempt at people who have more patriotism in their pinky than u do in body

Kurt Eichenwald ‏@kurteichenwald

@empireburlesque …so when u work in a building that has scores of stars in the front for all of the ppl who anonymously lost their lives..

Kurt Eichenwald ‏@kurteichenwald

@empireburlesque …in service of this country, u can come back & talk. Until then, go crawl off to watch cartoons. Adults have work to do

To which I replied:

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque

@kurteichenwald You are a funny little fellow. I make a point on the authenticity of the emails & their contents, not their provenance, and

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque

@kurteichenwald you respond with a raging twittersputter full of personal insults and chest-beating holier-than-thou ‘patriotism.’ That’s

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque

@kurteichenwald not a reply, that’s a hissy fit. And I’m the one who’s supposed to grow up. Again: a fact that’s true isn’t “misinformation”

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque

@kurteichenwald however dodgy its provenance might be. I’m sorry if pointing this out makes me unworthy of the protection of the CIA.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque

@kurteichenwald But then, facts are stupid things, as another great super-duper patriot once said. Personal insults are always better.

I decided to end the conversation at that point. I suppose I could have made more hay of his astonishing view that the CIA cannot be criticized by any outsider, because we are all pathetic, worthless, cartoon-watching children compared to the heroes of Langley. I could have queried his bold riposte that while he would never question the work of CIA analysts, he would always suspect the politicians who present the analysis. Does this include, er, the politicians who are at this moment presenting the CIA analysis? I might also have recalled Samuel Johnson’s old saw about patriotism being the last refuge of a scoundrel. But I figured the reply, if any, would have been along the same bellicose, belittling, non-responsive lines.

But the important thing is that I learned a lesson in the art of Higher Journalism from one of its noted practitioners. I also learned the true meaning of patriotism: keep your stupid mouth shut and swallow whatever you’re told by your betters. And that’s a lesson for us all, isn’t it? Something we can pass on to our children and grandchildren. Thanks, Kurt!

Chris Floyd is a columnist for CounterPunch Magazine. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at www.chris-floyd.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail