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Killing the Messenger, Again

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Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0

Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0

Once again, it’s happening, this time with the release of leaks by Wikileaks, supposedly via Russia, of the Clinton campaign’s emails and Hillary’s speeches to Wall Street.

Hard not to remember the way the mainstream media treated the important and valuable reporting done by Glenn Greenwald on the abuses of U.S. and British surveillance agencies exposed by Edward Snowden.

The Beltway press jumped into action to discredit Greenwald, often neglecting to deal with the actual wrongs of our Big Brother government.

Not hard to understand given that so many, including the most supposedly influential media, now simply feed at the trough of those in power. When somebody’s excellent journalism challenges your daily work routine of just reprinting press releases from Washington, you immediately attempt to kill the messenger.

(Have to wonder what would have happened to Greenwald had he actually hacked the government rather than Snowden, who now lives in exile in Russia. Chelsea Manning, who did hack government sites, uncovered actual war crimes. For that she was treated barbarically and faces years in prison. So far, no one has been prosecuted for what she uncovered.)

And the same is going on with Wikileaks’ reporting of emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton. Remember, not hacked by Wikileaks or Julian Assange, but by others who gave them to Wikileaks.

It’s supposedly being done by the Russians, a convenient way for Clinton to smear what is actually being uncovered.

Shocked, shocked, the whining goes, that some foreigners dare attempt to influence our elections.

Funny, isn’t it, how such outrage is never even approached when it comes to AIPAC and Israel’s significant influence in American elections for decades?

And where’s the anger and finger-pointing for all of the U.S. attempts to influence elections throughout the globe, from the third-world to Europe?

A basic precept — or it used to be — in journalism is that you pay attention to what was leaked and not so much the leaker.  Newspapers are — or were — protected as long as they had no foreknowledge of or solicited the specific leak.

What was important was the actual wrongdoing.

For example, despite Richard Nixon’s attempt to destroy the reputation of Daniel Ellsberg, the focus of the New York Times and other then-great newspapers — and subsequently by most Americans — was on what was actually in the Pentagon Papers.

In fact, a court even dismissed the charges against Ellsberg.

More than just the way the news is delivered has changed since the collapse of newspapers.

The New York Times didn’t pilfer the Pentagon Papers. They were given to them.

Wikileaks didn’t hack those emails. They were passed on to it.

We forget that distinction these days.

Still, it’s good to know that somebody or something still understands the role of a free press in what remains of our democracy.

And speaking of Nixon, that is just who Clinton and Barack Obama bring to mind when it comes to the abuses exposed by Greenwald and Wikileaks.

Killing the messenger.

These days, it seems to be working.

Just ask Nixon’s heirs.

Bruce Mastron is a writer living in Florida.

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Bruce Mastron is a journalist.

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