Newsroom Conspiracy at Murdoch’s Sunday Times? Snowden character assassination piece passes through ‘Buying-out’ news filter
The Murdoch Dynasty’s London newspaper, The Sunday Times, just prints what is the official view of Her Majesty’s Government, says its Home Affairs reporter as a way to explain-away a character assassination piece on NSA whistle-blower, Edward Snowden. The Sunday Times front-page story “British spies betrayed to Russians and Chinese” claimed that the encrypted NSA documents stolen by Snowden had fallen into the hands of the Russian and Chinese governments.
Snoopman finds that by uncritically repeating the claims of anonymous government sources, The Sunday Times has, in effect, activated the sixth filter of the Propaganda Model, which describes how the news is filtered in the absence of official state censorship. Snoopman finds that in order for News Corp-owned The Sunday Times‘ to publish the attack piece, “British spies betrayed to Russians and Chinese”, it had to pass through the Propaganda Model’s sixth filter, ‘Buying-out’, which theorizes for collusion and conspiracy in newsrooms. He rounds off by daring news outlets to expose the Deep States’ power crimes. [15 minute read. Contains traces of sarcasm].
By Snoopman, 20 June 2015
Make, announce, type.
A recent Sunday Times’ character assassination hit-piece on NSA-whistle-blower Edward Snowden provides a clear example of a newsroom conspiring with a government to attack a perceived enemy.
The central claim made in The Sunday Times article, “British spies betrayed to Russians and Chinese“, is that the encrypted documents that Edward Snowden stole from the US National Security Agency (NSA) have fallen into the hands of the Russian and Chinese governments. This spurious allegation lays the shaky foundation for another unsubstantiated claim, namely that British and American intelligence operations have been compromised and their spies endangered.
The Sunday Times character assassination piece, typed by ‘journalists’ Tom Harper, Richard Kerbaj and Tim Shipman, provides a clear example of the dodgy routine practice of using anonymous elite sources. The slyness of quoting anonymous official sources is that it gets the news outlet off-the-hook from doing a real investigation, backed by verifiable evidence. It also means that other news media outlets are unable and unobligated to investigate the Narrative News Yarns© being spun because the anonymously-quoted sources’ vested interests, career trajectories and place in the web of power remains untraceable. (See section below: The ‘Buying-out’ News Filter).
As the journalist who broke the Snowden whistle-blowing story in June 2013, Glenn Greenwald, wrote of news outlets that routinely present what anonymous government officials claim to be the Truth, “That tactic continues to be the staple of how major U.S. and British media outlets “report”.”
After initially being repeated as Truth by British and American news outlets and gullible journalists took to Twitter to discuss the implications for Edward Snowden, the story has since collapsed under scrutiny, as a hilarious interview by CNN with one of the reporters responsible for the story shows. (See also: Al Jazera’s “Behind the Sunday Times Snowden Saga“; The Guardian‘s “UK under pressure to respond to latest Edward Snowden claims” and The Globe and Mail’s “Snowden’s lawyer slams Times story claiming leaks ‘betrayed’ British spies“; and The Huffington Post‘s “Glenn Greenwald Accuses Sunday Times Of The ‘Type Of Reporting That Destroys Journalism’s Credibility’“).
On the surface, The Sunday Times article was designed to vilify NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden and justify increased mass surveillance capabilities for the British spy agency, GCHQ, which is part of the Five Eyes’ Echelon global mass surveillance network. However, the ‘Five Eyes’ spy partners – the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – pose a bona fide threat to the ideal of free and open societies. (See section below: Confronting the Extinction of Privacy with ‘But, Why? Questions’).
Glenn Greenwald quickly pointed out that Snowden gave the encrypted documents to news outlets for them to decide what was in the public interest to know, and to balance that mandate with not endangering lives. Snowden has repeatedly said he did not take the stolen NSA documents with him once he left Hong Kong, where he gave selected news outlets the encrypted NSA files, in case authorities seized them. Notably, the news outlets that Snowden worked with were not owned by Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire, News Corp (which owns The Sunday Times).
As Glenn Greenwald, who co-founded The Intercept online news outlet, wrote of the practice of quoting government sources who provide no evidence on the condition of anonymity, in his scathing piece:
“Ponder how dumb someone has to be at this point to read an anonymous government accusation, made with zero evidence, and accept it as true. But it works. Other news agencies mindlessly repeated the Sunday Times claims far and wide. I watched last night as American and British journalists of all kinds reacted to the report on Twitter: by questioning none of it.”
Greenwald went on to say of this journalistic practice to concede anonymity to official sources, that it is indicative of submission to authoritarianism, “It’s impossible that they don’t know better.”
Especially when The Sunday Times‘ Home Affairs reporter, Tom Harper said during ‘four minutes of farcical fumbling’ on CNN, “It’s, it’s obviously allegations at the moment from our point of view. And, it’s really for the British Government to, uh, to defend it. We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government”. As The Huffington Post reported, The Sunday Times‘ headline, “British spies betrayed to Russians and Chinese” contains no skepticism.
Breaking! The Sunday Times admits under standard journalistic questioning that it is the Official Printer of Her Majesty’s Government.
Indeed, The Intercept‘s co-founder, who relished the fun of lacerating The Sunday Times over it’s jingoistic story-telling passing as ‘news’, quoted comedian Stephen Colbert’s satirical attack speech at a White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in 2006, as a way to slam-dunk this “pure stenography of the worst kind“:
But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works. The President makes decisions. He’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put ’em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration? You know, fiction! – Stephen Colbert
Indeed, we argue that not all journalists are born equal dumb-dumbs and do know that what they type is fiction. [Many are smart, hilarious and good-looking, so it must lead those lacking all three features to concede their personal power to authoritarian regimes as an easy route to satisfy the attention-seeking tendencies detectable in all journalists. – Ed]
In the next section, we explore how collusion and conspiracy can occur in large news outlets on a routine basis among personnel who have likely incorporated an ideological prejudice that collusive or conspiratorial behaviour among elites is non-existent or unprovable.