A comment from an editor at the Associated Press epitomizes the danger mainstream media creates with its routine deference to intelligence sources, writes Caitlin Johnstone.
By Caitlin Johnstone
The Associated Press journalist who reported a U.S. intelligence official’s false claim that Russia had launched missiles at Poland last week has been fired.
As we discussed previously, AP’s anonymously sourced report which said, “A senior U.S. intelligence official says Russian missiles crossed into NATO member Poland, killing two people” went viral because of the massive implications of direct hot warfare erupting between Russia and the NATO alliance.
AP subsequently retracted its story as the mainstream political/media class came to accept that it was in fact a Ukrainian missile that had struck Poland.
AP’s firing of reporter James LaPorta looks at this time to be the end point of any accountability for the circulation of this extremely dangerous falsehood.
AP spokesperson Lauren Easton says no disciplinary action will be taken against the editors who waved the bogus story through, and to this day the public has been kept in the dark about the identity of the U.S. official who fed such extremely egregious misinformation or disinformation to the public through the mainstream press.
Important that AP accounts for publishing the false claim that Russia fired missiles into Poland. But the much more important task is finding out why an anonymous senior US intelligence official fed AP that false claim. https://t.co/6YmAn0VDap
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) November 23, 2022
It is utterly inexcusable for AP to continue to protect the anonymity of a government official who fed them such a profoundly significant falsehood.
This didn’t just affect AP staff, it affected the whole world; we deserve to know what happened and who was responsible, and AP has no business obstructing that knowledge from us.
LaPorta’s firing looks like this is yet another instance where the least powerful person involved in a debacle is being made to take the fall for it.
A powerful intelligence official will suffer no consequences for feeding false information to the press — thereby ensuring that it will happen again — and no disciplinary action will be taken against LaPorta’s superiors, despite the absolute buffoonery that subsequent reporting has revealed on their part.
In an article titled “Associated Press reporter fired over erroneous story on Russian attack,” The Washington Post reports the following (emphasis added):
“Internal AP communications viewed by The Post show some confusion and misunderstanding during the preparations of the erroneous report.
LaPorta shared the U.S. official’s tip in an electronic message around 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. An editor immediately asked if AP should issue an alert on his tip, ‘or would we need confirmation from another source and/or Poland?’
After further discussion, a second editor said she “would vote” for publishing an alert, adding, ‘I can’t imagine a U.S. intelligence official would be wrong on this.’”
The AP fired the reporter but not the editor who, apparently, will literally believe and publish anything a US intelligence official tells her. https://t.co/eqso6p8Lu5 pic.twitter.com/LdpXVyRUnQ
— derek davison (@dwdavison) November 22, 2022
“I can’t imagine a US intelligence official would be wrong on this.”
Can you imagine not being able to imagine a U.S. intelligence official being wrong?
This would be an unacceptable position for any educated adult to hold, much less a journalist, still less an editor, and still less an editor of one of the most influential news agencies on earth.
These are the people who publish the news reports we read to find out what’s happening in the world. This is the baby-brained level of thinking these people are serving the public interest with.
Antiwar commentator Daniel Larison writes the following of the AP editor’s shocking quote:
“Skepticism about official claims should always be the watchword for journalists and analysts. These are claims that need more scrutiny than usual rather than less. If you can’t imagine that an intelligence official could get something important wrong, whether by accident or on purpose, you are taking far too many things for granted that need to be questioned and checked out first.
Intelligence officials of many governments feed information to journalists and have done so practically ever since there was a popular press to feed information to, and that information certainly should not be trusted just because an official source hands it over. It is also always possible for intelligence officials to just get things wrong, whether it is because they are relying on faulty information or because they were too hasty in reaching conclusions about what they think they know.
Whether the AP’s source was feeding them a line or was simply mistaken, a claim as provocative and serious as this one should have been checked out much more thoroughly before it got anywhere near publication. The AP report in this case seems to have been a combination of a story that was “too good to check” and a culture of deference to official sources in which the editors didn’t feel compelled to make the effort to check.”
"If you can’t imagine that an intelligence official could get something important wrong, whether by accident or on purpose, you are taking far too many things for granted that need to be questioned and checked out first." https://t.co/u6VWdxsOG3 https://t.co/4D7S9PisM3
— Daniel Larison (@DanielLarison) November 22, 2022
Indeed, the only reason the press receive such explicit protections in the U.S. Constitution is because they are supposed to hold the powerful to account.
[In his 1971 opinion in the Pentagon Papers case, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote: “In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government.”]
If the editors of a wildly influential news agency will just unquestioningly parrot whatever they are fed by government officials while simultaneously protecting those officials with anonymity, they are not holding the powerful to account, and are in fact not meaningfully different from state propagandists.
They are state propagandists. Which is probably why they are sipping lattes in the AP newsroom while Julian Assange languishes in prison.
As Jacobin’s Branko Marcetic observed, this is far from the first time AP has given the cover of anonymity to US government officials circulating bogus claims of potentially dangerous consequence, like the time it reported an official’s evidence-free assertion which later proved false that Iran had carried out an attack on four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, or the time it let another one anonymously claim that “Iran may try to take advantage of America’s troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Irresponsible journalism from the AP, but this strikes me as quite damning and suggests it's more than just one reporter that's the problem. After all, this isn't even close to the first time the AP has published a false, war-baiting claim by a anon official. pic.twitter.com/id4bWr4zdz
— Branko Marcetic (@BMarchetich) November 22, 2022
So to recap —
- Powerful government official who fed AP a false story: Zero accountability
- AP editor who asked if a report should immediately be published upon receipt of the story: Zero accountability
- Second AP editor who says she can’t imagine a U.S. intelligence official would be wrong: Zero accountability
- Journalist who wrote the story: Singular accountability
In a sane society, power and responsibility would go hand in hand. A disaster would be blamed on the most powerful people involved in its occurrence. In our society it’s generally the exact opposite, with the rank-and-file taking all of the responsibility and none of the power.
Our rulers lie to us, propagandize us, endanger us, impoverish us, destroy journalism, start wars, kill our biosphere and make our world dark and confusing, and they suffer no consequences for it.
We cannot allow them to continue holding all of the power and none of the responsibility. This is backwards and must end.
Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes. For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.
This article is from CaitlinJohnstone.com and re-published with permission.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
In fact unconfirmed report attributes source: Prince aka “Husky” Fidow…
When asked 4 further comment… Replied:
As usual, the lady hits the nail-on-it’s-head, particularly those last few short paragraphs which precisely sum-up the crux of our predicament going forward. How long will we refuse to get involved in actively making the world a better place, here and now, in any subtle, slight, or marginal way possible? Imagine all us doing so to the best of our ability or inclination. The ripple-effect would be massive and things would eventually change course in a positive way. At this point it will be utter catastrophe should the generations under 65* decide to be passive in the face of such pathological abuses of power being heaped upon them and most everyone else, and we all instinctively understand that even if a premature end to our species is an inescapable fate, are we/they all who are willing or able just going to take it lying down?
*not implying here that folks over 65 should just tune-out, not at all. But I think readers here will understand
As usual, the lady hits the nail-on-it’s-head, particularly those last few short paragraphs which precisely sum-up the crux of our predicament going forward. How long will we refuse to get involved in actively making the world a better place, here and now, in any subtle, slight, or marginal way possible? Imagine all us doing so to the best of our ability or inclination. The ripple-effect would be massive and things would eventually change course in a positive way. At this point it will be utter catastrophe should the generations under 65 decide to be passive in the face of such pathological abuses of power being heaped upon them and most everyone else, and we all instinctively understand that even if a premature end to our species is an inescapable fate, are we/they all who are willing or able just going to take it lying down?
“AND, there’s always one last light to turn out; AND, one last bell to ring, AND, the last one outta the circus, has to lock up everything.” (Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby)
Adding to the Summary of Caitlin Johnestone’s, on point “RECAP!!!”
– ‘In a sane society,’ “The Corporate Media Deference That Endangers Us All,” would be broadcast on Public Radio. Investigative Journalists would have a seat on The Panel of MSM’s TV $hows, movin’ & shakin’ it up, delivering truths, the alternative perspective, “the meat & potatoes” of what’s ROTTEN!!!
– “In a sane society,” The Angel of Death would NOT be posing as POTUS masquerading as Human.
No doubt about it, by Design, “The $ystem is Broke. The Sy$tem has been bought & paid for.”
“We, the People,” will never say die! Imo, “We the People, Must some phkn how, 1. Create a New “System;”
2. We Must defend the right for information;
3. We, Must “RESCUE the One in Most Need,” JULIAN ASSANGE. We Must SAVE Julian Assange!!!
4. We, Must defend the right for a Free Press; AND, their rights to PRESS ON, freely, w/o f/retaliation, i.e., “You’re Fired.”
5. “We, the People, GOT to know that The Powers That Be, in a f/flash, Make it Darker!!!
For example, “Thank you, for your service,” i.e., James LaPorta, 35, former US Marine. Served in Afghanistan. A freelance reporter. An investigative journalist w/an intense, ‘he’s packin’ military background, “Prior to journalism, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a infantry rifleman. From 2006 until 2014, Mr. LaPorta worked in multiple leadership billets, serving as a infantry squad leader, a combat marksmanship instructor and an intelligence cell chief. He deployed multiple times to Afghanistan.” Source: the web (MuckRack)
Ya know, what rings hollow? Umpteenth times, James LaPorta heard, “Thank you, for your service.” Makes ya wanna cry how perverted it is: “You’re Fired!!!”
Next?!? No doubt, it’s The Corporati$t’ Go To, “Thoughts & Prayers.”
The Opposition, says, “Light a candle against the darkness.” KEEP IT LIT.
The “powerful official” was just doing his job, creating propaganda against the Russians. Of course he is not going to be fired.
Are we supposed to believe the “official story”? Just because it was “official “.
Absolutely agree 100%!
And this gets me thinking. Present company, Joe Lauria and the Consortium editorial staff, excepted, what generally makes one person the editor and another person the reporter? My lay person idea of it is that, for one thing, the editors are the biggest grammar nerds. A couple of my best friends are editors and they love to correct me.
Is there oftentimes a connection between the sort of obsession with rules of grammar that could attract a person to an editorial position and a bias in favor of authority? Is the person who actually paid attention in the 4th grade to tedious discussions of the pluperfect tense often the same person who places an inordinate amount of faith in the pronouncements of authority figures?
I know there are many responsibilities for editors besides being grammar police. And there are many dark forces I’m sure tying the deep state to the MSM. I haven’t forgotten the Congressional hearings of the ’70s and the Carl Bernstein exposé. But this incident and AP’s way of dealing with it brought this question to mind.
The media thinks that it protects sources in order to maintain its access to information.
Access to what? Here, it is access to official propaganda channels, which aggressively shop access to themselves.
The media has no excuse. It just goes for the cheap clicks with what is served up to it for free. No need to spend money on reporters — it is continuation of the Five O’Clock Follies in Saigon, selling the Vietnam War as a great success.
Another possibility is that there was never a US Intelligence Officer involved. LaPorta made it all up as maybe he is in the CIA’s pals club and wanted to earn Reward Points with his controller
This has also gone on right from the beginning of the SMO in Ukraine. Every story has been from the POV of “Ukrainian officials”, NONE has been investigated, let alone confirmed. Maternity hospitals, babies, kindergartens, all with graphic, posed photos, all accepted by the West. Any Russian attempts to explain/deny/refute ignored. Even now, the Russian attacks on the electrical grid are accused of killing civilians, and Russia has given evidence in the UN that the Ukrainian S300 defense systems have been the actual cause eg of apartment destruction. (the same type of S300 which caused the Poland incident). Even French media reports have compared the Ze “atrocity reports” to those of the USA about Iraq (babies ripped from incubators!) and Colin Powell and the vials! Even since the latest admitted lie by Ze, the lies are continuing.
In my opinion: The AP fired LaPorta in order to protect the editors who should have been held accountable, and fired. Not to mention the AP itself, that is, the entire shoddy AP infrastructure that verifies stories. They wanted to get it out first and claim their scoop and that took priority over anything else, including survival of our species. And since it was bashing Russia, it seemed like a safe bet. Who was going to complain? What miserable frauds, pretending to be journalists.
The salient point is that the AP has given up any semblance of being the “fourth estate” that speaks for the people and holds government and other powerful entities to account. Time to take what the AP dishes out with a grain of salt and relegate to the gossip columns because if this is an example of how they do journalism, that’s all it is. Is this kind of behavior endemic? How can we ever take what it claims as fact seriously?
It was said, but are you sure he was fired ?
How can you trust them it they lie right here, right mow ?