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Agita is a word that New York Italians use.  It means "heartburn," more or less.

Kevin Drum writing for Mother Jones, yesterday, took at stab at explaining Why the Government Went Ballistic Over the AP Leak.  The piece refers back to an LA Times article that explains the damage done by the leak the AP reported.   According to the LA Times, the information reported by the AP a year ago, gave the underwear bomb inventor, Ibrahim Nasiri, the heads up he needed to escape capture in Yemen.

Here’s the article that the AP published a year ago. It appeared in numerous newsapapers in the US and abroad on May 7 2012.

Note:  Instead of attribution, the article relies on phrases like, “the Associated Press learned,” and “US officials said.”  It also included language that explicitly spells out that it was reporting leaked information and its justification for doing so.

“The AP learned about the thwarted plot last week but agreed to White House and CIA requests not to publish it immediately because the sensitive intelligence operation was still under way. Once officials said those concerns were allayed, the AP decided to disclose the plot Monday despite requests from the Obama administration to wait for an official announcement Tuesday.”
Clearly the federal government and the AP don't agree on what happened.

On May 16, 2012, a week after the AP reported the leaked information, the New York Times reported that the FBI director testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the matter.

WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director told a Congressional committee on Wednesday that the authorities were investigating how information about a thwarted plot by Al Qaeda to detonate a bomb on an airliner bound for the United States was leaked to the news media.

At a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the director, Robert S. Mueller III, said that the disclosure of the information about the plot, which was first reported by The Associated Press on May 7, compromised the United States’ operations against Al Qaeda.

Mr. Mueller said that such a leak threatens operations, “puts at risk the lives of sources, makes it much more difficult to recruit sources, and damages our relationships with our foreign partners.”  

"Consequently, a leak like this is taken exceptionally seriously, and we will investigate thoroughly,”  he added.

“Regardless of political consequences, I hope that you get to the bottom of it,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, the ranking member of the committee.

Regardless of political consequences.  Right.  

A year ago the Republicans in Congress were screaming for a serious investigation.  Now when they talk about the collection of the AP’s phone records, they say it shows a clear intention to intimidate whistleblowers and to obstruct the operation of a free press.  

Last week in the House, Tom McClintock (R – CA), Randy Weber (R – TX), Jeff  Fortenberry (R – NE), Joe Wilson (R – SC),  and Ted Poe (R – TX) spoke about the tyrannical Obama government’s abuse of power without acknowledging the purpose of the investigation.  

If they don’t like the way it was conducted, why don’t they suggest the proper method they would have used to identify the leaker?

It’s one thing if the Republicans want to play partisan games to score a point and only a fool would believe they give a fig about freedom of the press.  They’re using a wedge to divide the left and that’s unforgivable.

At the heart of the matter is that most of the press is also telling the story without reference to the calls for an investigation a year ago, either.  They reported on the AP leak and the resulting controversy in May and June 2012.  They should know what they printed a year ago and they should have told the story truthfully from the moment that AP starting squawking about its phone records.  But they didn’t.  Some news outlets are filling in the back story but it’s too little, too late.  They left room for members of Congress to go back to their districts and start beating the drum for impeachment based on half of a story.  

The press isn’t in danger of losing its freedom.  It gave up its freedom long ago.  It’s a bit late to mourn over that loss.

Did the press exercise its freedom during the run up to the war in Iraq?  

Did it warn that deregulation and a housing bubble might endanger the economy in 2007?

Did it inform citizens about the Affordable Care Act or did it devote its attention to tea partiers rampaging about death panels?  

Did the press ever ask why the Republicans said Reagan proved deficits don’t matter while they ran up trillions in debt only to turn 180 degrees on Inauguration Day 2009 when they began a hysterical frenzy about spending?  

Has it ever demanded an explanation why there was no trickle down and still the Republicans promote it even though it was one of the biggest con jobs in the history of the world?  

Did it ever stand up to any Republican leader who repeated the lie that the President came to Washington with a supermajority of 60 in the Senate and could have done whatever he wanted?  

Was the press outraged when Scott Olsen sustained a head injury at OWS on Oakland?

Did it raise a fuss when students at UC Davis were pepper sprayed in the face for expressing their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble?  

Did the press speak out for an end to the extortion practiced by House Republicans who hold the threat of default over this country?  

Oh there have been a few spotty efforts to let a bit of truth out of the bag now and then.  For every Bill Moyers or Amy  Goodman, there are 1,000 shills lying for business corporations.  That’s the real problem.  It’s not misguided loyalty to Obama.  It’s that the press in America is an abject failure by itself.  

Worry about the chilling effect?  Millions of Americans have felt a chilling effect in one way or another for years now.  Here’s how this works.  It’s not that I don’t care about the Associated Press.  I do care.  I care as much about it, as it cares about me.  

With all the toxicity of bitterness and cynicism I spilled, I feel a need to provide an antidote.

Music! The new Daft Punk CD is out Tuesday, officially.

This track features guests Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams and they own the first 2 ½ minutes, in a good way, until a more recognizable Daft Punk sound kicks in and takes over.  No matter who you are you will give in to this at some point before the summer is over.

Get Lucky!  

♪♫  We’ve come too far, to give up who we are . . . . ♪♫ ♪♫

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hannah, BenderRodriguez

    There is no existence without doubt.

    by Mark Lippman on Sun May 19, 2013 at 04:37:30 AM PDT

  •  The biggest (and saddest) indictment of... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pinto Pony, Mark Lippman

    the press is on display every Monday to Thursday between 11:00 p.m. and midnight, when Messrs. Stewart and Colbert come across as more credible than anyone on CNN or Fox.

    Colbert, by forming his own Super PAC, did a better job of exposing the folly and innately secretive, corrupting nature of this concept than any actual journalist has ever done.

    Stewart and Colbert might be dismissed by some as entertainers or comedians, but if the Harlem Globetrotters beat the hell out of the Miami Heat, wouldn't everyone in the NBA feel a little embarrassed?

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Sun May 19, 2013 at 05:00:01 AM PDT

    •  For people who make their living in that field it (0+ / 0-)

      might look different to them.  Maybe what I'm saying sounds offensive to an audience of people who enjoy creating their own content and reading others.  But when the topic of free speech comes up, it's not the time for me to censor myself.

      The sad thing is that I wouldn't miss most of the newsmedia outlets we have today because I don't thing they provide anything of value to me.  They're just as likely to mislead me as inform me.  I can gather information I want on my own without them.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Sun May 19, 2013 at 05:24:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh, and one more thing... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    Brioschi was the go-to cure for agita in my house growing up.

    Perhaps they sell it in a 55-gallon drum these days?

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Sun May 19, 2013 at 05:03:06 AM PDT

  •  You're right. The Associated Press is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    particularly obnoxious, declaring everything they publish to be copy righted and not to be copied or distributed for any purpose.
    Although the AP is touted as a New York based association, most of the Board of Directors are from the Heartland and the role of the Belo Corporation is downplayed by referencing Jim M. Moroney III as the head of the Dallas Morning News, rather than as Executive VP of Belo.
    The Belo Corp timeline is interesting:

    1950 - Belo furthers its leadership in broadcasting by purchasing Dallas TV station KBTV and renamed it WFAA-TV. Today the ABC affiliate is the leading television station in Dallas/Fort Worth and the flagship of Belo's Television Group.

    1981 - Belo's stock is publicly traded over the counter. Two years later it is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

    1997 - In the biggest transaction in its history, Belo acquires The Providence Journal Company. With it comes The Providence Journal; KING-TV and NorthWest Cable News (NWCN) in Seattle/Tacoma; KGW-TV in Portland; WCNC-TV in Charlotte; WHAS-TV in Louisville; KMSB-TV in Tucson; KREM-TV in Spokane; and KTVB-TV in Boise. In separate 1997 transactions, Belo acquires The Press-Enterprise, a daily newspaper serving Riverside County and the inland Southern California area; KMOV-TV in St. Louis; and KENS-TV in San Antonio .

    1999 - In July, Belo acquires the Denton Publishing Company in Denton, Texas, which includes the Denton Record-Chronicle.

    2001 - The Company's official name is changed from A. H. Belo Corporation to Belo Corp.

    2004 - The Providence Journal celebrates its 175th anniversary on July 21. The Journal is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the U.S.

    2008 - The Company's Board of Directors unanimously approved a plan to create separate television and newspaper businesses by spinning off the newspaper business into a publicly-traded company called A. H. Belo Corporation. Robert W. Decherd, past chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Belo Corp., became chairman, president and Chief Executive Officer of A. H. Belo, and non-executive chairman of Belo Corp.

    According the the Columbia Journalism Review, Belo's resources include:
        KVUE-TV (ABC) Austin, Texas
        KTVB-TV (NBC) Boise, Idaho
        WCNC-TV (NBC) Charlotte, North Carolina
        WFAA-TV (ABC) Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
        WVEC-TV (ABC) Hampton/Norfolk, Virginia
        KHOU-TV (CBS) Houston, Texas
        WHAS-TV (ABC) Louisville, Kentucky
        WWL-TV (MyNetwork TV) New Orleans, Louisiana
        WWL-TV (CBS) New Orleans, Louisiana
        KASW-TV (CW) Phoenix, Arizona
        KTVK-TV (Ind.) Phoenix, Arizona
        KGW-TV (NBC) Portland, Oregon
        KENS-TV (CBS) San Antonio, Texas
        KING-TV (NBC) Seattle/Tacoma, Washington
        KONG-TV (Ind.) Seattle/Tacoma, Washington
        KREM-TV (CBS) Spokane, Washington
        KSKN-TV (CW) Spokane, Washington
        KMOV-TV (CBS) St. Louis, Missouri
        KMSB-TV (FOX) Tucson, Arizona
        KTTU-TV (MyNetworkTV) Tucson, Arizona
    Television News
        24/7 News Channel (Boise, ID.)
        Arizona News Channel (Arizona) (In partnership with Cox Communications)
        Local News (Virginia) (In partnership with Cox Communications)
        NewsWatch on Channel 15 (Louisiana)
        NorthWest Cable News (WA, OR, and ID)
        Texas Cable News (Texas)
        Belo Interactive
    Note there is no mention of their stake in the AP. Nor is it directly mentioned that the AP has access to all election results.
    Can we say "integrated monopoly"?

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun May 19, 2013 at 05:40:24 AM PDT

  •  Thank you. This is what I love about Kos. The (0+ / 0-)

    quality of the community gives me a standard to reach.  

    The concentration of ownership would have to effect editorial content.  But aside from that, I think this might also speak to the concentration of income and wealth that keeps transferring a greater proportion to a tiny 0.1% slice.  I'm working on a project related to that and people ask me why it matters. They don't perceive the concentrated wealth as assets that can be used to amplify the power and influence of a few people.  This is a great example that everyone can understand.  

    There is no existence without doubt.

    by Mark Lippman on Sun May 19, 2013 at 06:14:23 AM PDT

  •  You've put together a rationale (0+ / 0-)

    for adopting a system of propaganda managed by an authoritarian government.

    •  Did I really? Who knew? I'm not even sure what (0+ / 0-)

      that statement means but you're welcome to believe whatever suits you.  I'm going to take a wild guess that you disagree with something I wrote and/or misunderstood some or all of it.  

      One of my degrees is in Journalism. I studied at NYU and earned my degree more than 3 decades ago when standards were quite different than they are today.  I think I have a pretty good grasp of the way the press should function to fulfill its role in a society like ours, a role important enough to be protected in the Bill of Rights.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Sun May 19, 2013 at 08:59:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess I just don't buy into the idea (0+ / 0-)

        that the press deserves government harassment just because they suck.  I don't disagree with your list of failures - I could add many more myself - but I'd hate to have George Bush directing a government agency like DOJ to investigate a media outlet because they said things with which he disagreed or didn't say things he wanted them to say.  Oh wait - that happened!  Don't want Democrats to become accustomed to following suit.

        Personally, I am fine with finding out whether or not the DOJ monitoring the phone records of more and 100 journalists and editors at AP was indeed appropriate. I feel no fealty to any Administration when Constitutional question arise and I happen to think that this is a fairly important and big one.

        I don't like the AP much, but I can decide not to spend money on their product.  I don't want the government to decide what acceptable media is or is not.  When the government decides what acceptable reporting is, we are in propaganda, authoritarian land - a place I don't want to live.

        Been there and done that, actually - and it isn't pretty, fair or even remotely "OK".

        •  I want to be clear about my stand. (0+ / 0-)

          It's really more than the AP.  Much of the press is standing in the way of important communication that needs to get out.

          I'm talking about a problem that goes far, far beyond "they suck."  They are as owned as the government and they only dribble out information if it's advantageous to the privileged few.

          Read my diaries if they're not too tedious.  The right was griping for years because the Senate didn't pass a budget. This year it did pass one and there was bickering in Congress for two weeks because the Republican caucus refuses to follow the regular order for reconciling the House and Senate versions.  Regular order is a 200 year old protocol and it was brushed aside by people who said We'll only go to conference if the outcome is determined ahead of time and it will have to be the fiscal policy we Republicans dictate.  

          The newsmedia outlets did a huge favor to Republicans by not breathing a word of it.  There was constant friction during the 3 years when the Senate didn't pass a budget. If it was important enough to talk about it then, why isn't it important enough now that it's time to proceed through the protocol of regular order?  Because the newsmedia outlet owners don't care to communicate information unless it benefits them.

          And it's bigger than partisan Ds or Rs too because the whole construct has become so inscrutable that it appears they're all in cahoots together.  

          Apart from that, leaking classified information is indeed against the law.  People disbelieve the leak was serious.
          But we have Exhibit 1, the article that AP published.  The writer took the extraordinary step of stating within his article that it included sensitive information that was leaked, which the federal government wanted to delay in realeasing, and an admission that the article was being published anyway.  There's no need for anyone to buy in sight unseen.  The article is linked in this diary.

          On top of that, a discussion panel at the AP was held on May 8 2012, the day after the article was published.  The panel's topic for discussion was: to leak or not to leak.  One of the speakers recalled a time when the AP fired a reporter for defying the federal government and publishing sensitive information that it wanted delayed.  Another speaker said competition makes it necessary to ignore government orders to wait.

          Any journalist worth his salt should be familar with title 18 USC 798 and be prepared to take his lumps if he breaks the law.

          I want to know who leaked that information and it isn't government harassment.  It's MY right.

          There is no existence without doubt.

          by Mark Lippman on Sun May 19, 2013 at 08:56:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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