ED (evildevil) wrote in talk_politics,

The Media Hysteria Regarding Wikileaks

The media's reaction regarding wikileaks' releases is an example of how the so called Fourth Estate has been compromised. I am not talking about just the right but also the left, they both have an invested interest on attacking and marginalizing Julian Assange and Wikileaks for their own self interest.

It is no secret that rightwing organizations have a problem with anyone or anything they see as a threat to America or America's interests but before we skip this issue there is a need to actually analyze and dissect their response to understand their drive. People need to remember that the rightwing media is driven mostly by ideology, not just partisanship. For example when the documents were released we saw a lot of criticism aimed not just against Wikileaks but also against Obama for failing to protect these secrets. But something funny happened along the way, if you remember in one of the leaks there was a reference that the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered American diplomats to spy and gather DNA on foreign diplomats (even our allies). Now a lot of anti-Hillary rightwingers jumped on this issue just to continue to propagate their sentiments against her, but surprisingly (or not) many rightwing institutions tried to either minimize the criticism or shift the issue back on attacking the Obama administrations and to emphasize his failures regarding the security of America's intelligence or they increased their attacks against Wikileaks as an attempt to shift the conversation. Why? Because believe or not to attacking Hillary Clinton's actions on that issue would also meant attacking certain policies that are tantamount to Imperial Policies, policies that are supported by many who believe it is for the good of America's interests to spy on others, and you have to be a fool not to see that.

Fox News could have easily used this issue to inflame the anti-hillary sentiment to rally their viewers, even go as far as to use this illegal maneuver to call for her resignation and to further humiliate her, but there was not enough pressure on that issue, that would have been difficult without attacking policies that they know a lot of their viewers would have no problem supporting. Instead the focus of the discussion was the failure of the Obama Administration to protect our secrets and the indignation of Julian Assange's disregard for America's security. That was the majority of the tone of the rightwing media. It fits to the conservative narrative regarding America's exceptionalism to bash and attack Assange and to bash the Obama administration, at the same time they tried to diminish Hillary's action because that is the kind of policy that they support to protect America's interests (short of praising Hillary, of course. But dont be surprise if the rightwing media decides to use this issue to further vilify her when it become convenient to do so).

This should not be a surprise. If rightwing organizations truly understand their base, they know that it would be far easier to attack Obama and Wikileaks and at the same time difficult to attack Hillary for supporting policies that they themselves have no problem supporting as long it serves America's interests. After all, it is no secret that many other Nations around the world probably have the same policy in place, even thought technically it is illegal, it is the sort of behavior that everyone expects will be imitated, an open secret if you will (but one that you have to keep it under the sheets to keep appearances)... call me cynical if you will, but you have to be naive to actually think otherwise.

But the issue that should really bother a lot of people is the fact that the so called liberal media has no problem on criticizing Wikileaks for their reckless actions. Many liberal organizations have condemned Julian Assange as a trouble maker or a provocateur. Someone who is misguided into the belief that he is doing right and that he has an ego problem in that he finds pleasure in humiliating a Superpower. Now I am sure that there are those who truly believe that Assange is putting people at risk, as well as American troops, by releasing the documents (this reaction is mostly out of fear rather than facts). Some of them feel it is their patriotic duty to bash this foreigner for undermining America's intelligence that is protecting our lives against our enemies. But that is not always the case, many of the media organizations are attacking Julian Assange out of fear and indignation from the public. Yes, it is the fear machine that keeps feeding the public for ratings, but it is also the fear of upsetting Fearzilla (in this case the public and the government) in the case that they are giving the false appearance of supporting Assange's action, a support for his actions gives the appearance of them being un-american traitors, an unpleasant image they are trying to avoid.

This is not the first time the media has behaved this way, they acted like sheep during the Bush administration before the war in Iraq, giving him a collective pass rather than confront the President of what was at the time flimsy evidence; there was a lack of collective will in the media to avoid a war for fear of retaliation from the public in the perception that they were being un-patriotic. The same is happening now, there is no conspiracy to undermine Assange. Instead there is a collective agreement to silence him, the media is looking to the public to find their opinion regarding his actions and at the same time they are looking at other media organizations to see how would they behave during this embarrassing episode. So far the media fears a backlash if they either support or justify Assange's actions, which is why some of them are behaving as if Julian Assange was a lunatic, a person that suffers from mental health or self-esteem deficiency, or maybe a relative of Obama bin Laden (not many on the left are calling for his assassination, but they are nevertheless inflaming the passions against him). And it is not just the organizations, individual journalists just dont have the spine to speak up regarding this issue without fearing repercussion, so instead they are joining the bandwagon against Assange. Keep in mind that the media and journalists started to pick up the anti-Bush sentiment only after they felt secure that they could do so without fear of a backlash (and it was very popular at the time), this was during the lowest period of the Bush Administration but by then alot of the damage was already done to our Nation, so the discontent was rampant. If anything, there is no shadow organization trying to silence Assange, but a collective of cowardly newsmen/newswomen who are afraid of being labeled un-american anti-patriots, so they are driving the anti-wikileaks narrative so it can prop their patriotic image with the public.

But there is one more important point that we must keep in mind regarding the media reaction (from left and right), it should not be a surprise to anyone if we keep remembering that these organizations are not just institutions that are disseminating information/misinformation, they are also a business. That means that to stay in business they must avoid a backlash from their viewers. If we keep this in mind then we can clearly understand why their behavior should not be a surprise to anyone. In the past we had numerous news organizations where people could get diverse sources of information giving them different "narratives", these agencies were smaller with limited audiences but at least their numerous numbers created a form of competition against each other to gain audiences and readers. Today we have giant media agencies with little need for innovative market competition or an incentive to provide diverse narratives, instead they provide a homogeneous narrative driven or separated by ideology. Today's narrative is one driven by patriotism and anti-wikileaks sentimentality. But there is another reason why Media giants are afraid of losing face with the public, the lost of trust with the government. The Government has an expectation in regards to their relationship with the Media, a cozy relationship that allows News Organizations to have access to information that otherwise they wouldnt have and Wikileaks is threatening that relationship. For media giants the loss of access to information equals to the loss of profits. Again, this is part of the fear of being labeled un-patriotic.

Now there is one more area that seems to indicate why many journalists have a dislike for Julian Assange and Wikileaks on a personal level. This is not the general view but a possibility on certain individuals. Certain journalists may have a personal resentment against Julian Assange and Wikileaks driven by jealousy. Here we have an organization that works outside the government's sphere of influence where they can influence public opinion and undermine the relationship between the Media and the State without the fear of losing access to  information since the information comes to them. There is a possible danger that this could set a precedent where one day Media Giants will lose their monopoly on information, if this were to happen it could radically change the way not only how we receive information, but also on how certain agents obtain it, we will see what the future holds... I do not know how strong the sentiments are among individual journalists, but the jealousy issue could just be minimal and instead it could just be fear and patriotism that ferments the anti-wikileaks sentiment among journalists.

Now, on a personal note. I do not think the new batch of documents released by Wikileaks shows anything new, in fact it reads like one of those gossip magazines (embarrassing to America's image as well our allies and other foreign nations). I was surprised to find a few nuggets of information that brings to light certain issues, but I would hardly say I was shocked by the revelations. In the end I dont think these documents will radically change America's foreign policies (in the short term, it will be an awkward relationship but in the long run they will beef up security and communications), but it will probably slightly change the Media's narrative because of the new "facts" (facts that we suspected were true but we couldnt verify). I could be wrong, but lets see what happens.

But I will say this, not all secrecy is necessarily evil, sometimes it is a requirement to be able to do good or negotiate good outcomes without public outcry (it makes good leverage). But how much secrecy is necessary is still under the discretion of our government that needs to be scrutinized from time to time to be certain that the cloak of secrecy is not being abused for their own interest.

Fox News WikiLeaks Distraction Of The Day: Dick Morris Accuses Hillary Clinton Of Trying To Blackmail Foreign Diplomats And Heads Of State

Fox News WikiLeaks Priority: Blame Obama

Bush Speechwriter Marc Thiessen Suggests Invading U.S.- Allied Nations To Capture WikiLeaks Founder

WikiLeaks: the revolution has begun – and it will be digitized

Peter King: Declare Wikileaks A Terrorist Organization

Noam Chomsky: WikiLeaks Cables Reveal "Profound Hatred for Democracy on the Part of Our Political Leadership"

WikiLeaks reveals more than just government secrets

Comment: The hypocrisy of the media attack on Wikileaks

WikiLeaks' Impact On Foreign Policy 'Fairly Modest,' Gates Says

Pentagon review: No troops endangered by Wikileaks documents

The Pentagon’s Empty Threats on WikiLeaks


WikiLeaks just made the world more repressive
Tags: conspiracy, journalism, national security, scandal, wikileaks
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