Journalists are entrusted by the public to reveal truth, not serve the powerful in a witch-hunt for sources of the truth, writes Elizabeth Vos.
By Elizabeth Vos
Special to Consortium News
It was impossible to imagine four years ago when WikiLeaks Editor Julian Assange was hauled out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London and thrown in Belmarsh Prison that corporate media, which had smeared Assange, could stoop to new lows of government servitude.
But it has now happened with the arrest of Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman, for allegedly leaking top secret government documents. The leaks exposed a number of significant lies told by both the U.S. government and corporate media about the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Among many items of interest, the documents revealed that U.S. Special Forces as well as NATO forces are on the ground in Ukraine; that Ukraine is significantly unprepared for its planned spring offensive; as well as evidence of U.S. spying on its allies and António Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations.
According to Al Jazeera:
“Several purported U.S. intelligence assessments paint a more pessimistic outlook for the Ukrainian military than the U.S. has provided publicly. They suggest Kyiv is heading for only ‘modest territorial gains’ in its much-anticipated spring counteroffensive.”
In other words, the content of these leaks expose lies told directly by the U.S. and NATO, as well as the corporate media that serve them.
Media on the Hunt
But how did major media react? The New York Times worked with Aric Toler, a U.S. and U.K. government-funded Bellingcat staff writer, to publicly expose accused leaker Teixeira less than a day after federal authorities had identified him.
But the Times and The Washington Post had described Texiera without naming him before the Department of Justice had, in effect doing the F.B.I.’s job for them by tracking down the leaker.
According to the affidavit supporting the prosecution of Teixeira, who held a top security clearance, the F.B.I. subpoenaed Discord, an application often used by gamers to communicate, and where the documents were alleged to have been originally leaked. The information handed over by Discord then lead to Teixeira’s arrest.
The leak itself and the arrest of the alleged source is significant enough, but what makes this story disturbing is the role of the media in actively finding and exposing Teixeira, revealing his identity instead of protecting him.
The media frenzy appeared unanimous in its focus on identifying the leaker more than reporting on the newsworthy content of the material.
The Exact Opposite of WikiLeaks
In contrast, Assange went to the absolute limits of human endurance for the sake of protecting whistleblowing sources.
In 2017, early in the Trump Administration, Trump was reportedly willing to negotiate a pardon for Assange if he would out the sources of the DNC Emails and disprove Russiagate once and for all.
In August of 2016, Assange made comments on Dutch Television that all but admitted the source of the DNC emails was the murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. So, why not admit the identity of a dead source, if it indeed was Rich, disprove Russiagate, and gain his freedom?
Because WikiLeaks’ obligation, according to Assange, was the absolute protection of sources no matter the cost. It is a principle that may prove to cost the award-winning journalist his life.
WikiLeaks went on to publish Vault 7: a trove of C.I.A. hacking secrets. The release enraged then-C.I.A. chief Mike Pompeo, and shortly afterwards then-F.B.I. Director Jim Comey reportedly ended all negotiations for Assange’s freedom.
Assange also supported whistleblowers who didn’t submit material to WikiLeaks including Edward Snowden and Reality Winner. U.K. and Ecuador talks on securing Assange’s release in 2012 were abandoned when Assange sent aid in the form of Sarah Harrison to Snowden as he was stuck in transit during his escape from Hong Kong, Stella Assange, attorney and Julian Assange’s wife, told Consortium News.
When Winner was arrested, Assange was vocal in support of her release and criticized the Intercept for bungling their protection of Winner as a source. He even went so far as to offer to turn himself in to authorities in exchange for the release of Chelsea Manning.
Now, in the complete opposite vein, The New York Times and The Washington Post have worked with so-called journalists of Bellingcat to, in their words, “hunt down” the leaker of top secret documents regarding the Ukraine War.
That papers of record would go so far as to actively work to expose a source of vitally important information to the public is astounding when compared with the lengths that serious journalists like Assange have gone to protect their sources.
Perhaps such activities are less surprising coming from members of Bellingcat, an organization funded by NATO states and intelligence-linked groups and reported by The Grayzone to be “loved” by C.I.A. officials.
Journalists are entrusted by the public to reveal truth, not serve the powerful in a witch-hunt for sources of the truth. Instead, The New York Times and its co-conspirators from Bellingcat appear to have been seeking to punish a leaker who exposed the U.S. government and the corporate media’s lies.
The legacy news media is not simply a second-rate form of journalism in comparison with WikiLeaks, but its intentional opposite.
Elizabeth Vos is a freelance journalist and contributor to Consortium News. She co-hosts CN Live!
Elizabeth Vos has struck the nailhead perfectly. We must keep up this momentum, this complete blanketing coverage, of why and how the best journalists do so much more than matter. The best journalists, like the most needed whistleblowers, being our town criers, in our interest, with conscience intact, guide the trajectory of societies. Courage is more than contagious! It is like the oxygen in the air we want to breathe freely. Free Julian. Free us all. Peace. -T.
People like Joe Lauria, mentee of one of the greatest journalists our nation has ever produced, Robery Parry, now running one of our best alt-media sites, Consortium News, (which the late Mr. Parry founded), may remember that many months ago, probably a year or more, maybe even two, I thought it was possible that the morally demented Elites who run the US Empire might release Julian Assange, if only to prevent him from rising to the status of ever more widely revered icon and/or martyr. Their point was adequately made, it seemed they might think. They had, at that point, cruelly tortured his life to such a heinously and barbarically depraved extent that they might think that an adequate deterrent effect had been achieved.
More recently, others have entertained similar speculation, that the Evil Empire would unlock Jules’ dank dungeon cell, figuring that they’d done enough already, by torturing him for these long years, to deter others from following his courageous example, and that allowing him to become a more widely revered icon or martyr, (he’s reportedly in poor health and could die in his dungeon cell), could only be counter-productive to their own evil designs.
But with this latest major ‘leak’ of the Empire’s dark, evil secrets, (I’ve heard it being called the Discord Leak), revealing to all the depraved extent of their constant self-serving lies, I don’t see how they could possibly release Jules now. Doing so would comprise an admission that keeping their evil deeds secret is essentially impossible. The Ruling Elites who run the US Empire are in a fatally difficult position, after all. Their “Empire of Lies”, as Mr. Putin dubbed it, is built upon such a precarious web of inculcated delusions among the population, which they have built through decades of lying propaganda, that it IS, in fact, impossible now for them to keep the winds of truth from sweeping their “house of cards” away.
But what else can they do? They have to try.
These evil, lying Elites are sweating bullets. They are in an increasingly desperate and rapidly deteriorating position.The Empire is indeed built upon a sandy foundation of utter lies, of course, and it cannot continue to function if the peon functionaries it must employ to accomplish its objectives make a habit of exposing its lies. The peon functionaries, by the very nature of the functions they perform, cannot be prevented from being aware of the lies. In the long run, too many people will not hold to induced bonds of patriotic loyalty to a regime that they can see is rooted in lies and evil deeds. How else but by threat of heinously barbaric torture can such potential whistleblowers be prevented from exposing proof of what they know?
It seems more likely now that as the Evil Empire seeks to wreak more torture on this latest heroic whistleblower’s life, they will be forced to double down on their torture of poor Jules.
Thus there is bitter irony to chew on here. Jules’ own example of heroism has inspired yet another heroic soul to follow that example. Thus he has again succeeded, even while locked incommunicado in a dungeon cell, in advancing his own courageous agenda. He has again struck a deep wounding blow on the Evil Dragon, even while growing weak from the barbaric conditions of his tortures. But the bitter irony that we, and he, must chew on is that his very success is likely to bring yet more barbaric torture down on his own head.
This is the intrinsic nature of authentic ‘resistance’, and none could possibly be more authentic than Jules. There is irony in every success. There is pain in every victory. There is sacrifice in every achievement. There is sadness to suffer even as we rejoice. This is the intrinsic nature of struggle against immense power. This is the inherent nature of the bitter-sweet process of slaying an Evil Dragon. Blood must be spilled. (Figuratively speaking, of course. I am a firm advocate of non-violence). We weep when it is the blood of our own, as we do when we watch as Jules grows ever more pale as his own lifeblood flows. But we rejoice when the Evil Dragon’s blood flows. Jules can surely claim some considerable credit for striking the Dragon this latest grievous wound, by inspiring the Discord whistleblower, but his wan smile over yet another triumph cannot comfort us as we watch him suffer and grow weaker.
It now seems very unlikely that the Evil Empire will EVER release Jules. It now seems more likely that he will not again live free until the Evil Dragon lies slain, until the Evil Empire is brought to complete and utter defeat.
But look and see, good folks, that the Empire is hard pressed on every side. Its economic power is rapidly waning, as the power of the US Dollar remains under withering assault. The utter defeat looming in Ukraine will embolden every nation that is chafing under the Empire’s imperious dictates to snub its nose at this toothless Paper Tiger’s pretense of military might. The already powerful alliance of nations united against the Empire continues its rapid growth.
Never in my own long life, (born in ’48, only 19 years after Wyatt Earp died), have I ever seen conditions exist that are conducive to victory over this Evil Regime.
But they exist now, if only we can seize the advantage.
We can actually free poor Jules. We really CAN. This horrible murderous beast is now vulnerable. We can actually slay this Evil Dragon and wrest the keys to all its evil dungeons from its cold dead claws. Heavy blows are falling on this once mighty Dragon from every quarter. It yet bellows out its horrible roar of fiery death, but any direction it turns to face another foe, it only feels the pain of deep wounds from behind. It’s surrounded. It’s own increasingly fearful allies are backing away, preparing to save themselves.
But the Empire is immensely cunning, let us never forget that. In its determination to survive, (which every creature has), it will not fall without first expending every measure of the evil energy and raw power of its cruel, murderous spirit. No creature is more dangerous than when backed into a corner, fighting for its very life. Just because it is weakened and under duress on every side around the world, that does not mean that this murderous Evil Dragon is not still immensely powerful and dangerous, most especially to us here at home, to our nation’s heretofore powerless Common People, living under the Empire’s totalitarian rule.
Noted commentator Chris Hedges knows what we, the Common People, need to do to slay this Dragon. In his recent article, he wrote:
“The public has been siloed into antagonistic tribes. Catering to these antagonistic tribes is the business model of the media, whether Fox News or MSNBC. Not only are these competing demographics fed what they want to hear, but the opposing tribe is demonized, with the scalding rhetoric widening the chasms within the public. This delights the oligarchs.
If we are to wrest power back from corporations and the billionaire class who have carried out this coup d’état in slow motion, as well as prevent the rise of neofascism, we must build a left-right coalition free from the moral absolutism of woke zealots”.
Any among us with even a modicum of just plain old-fashioned common sense can easily see the truth in Mr. Hedges’ words. We, the nation’s Common People, are now fatally divided into complete political impotence. We can NEVER defeat our Enemy, we can NEVER slay this Evil Dragon that rules over ALL our lives, as long as we allow ourselves to remain divided into these mutually hateful, raw, primitive, self-defeating tribal factions.
As long as we remain fatally divided along the fault lines of our most primitive tribal animosities, (as we so obviously are now), as long as we allow our powers of Reason to be completely controlled by our primitive tribal passions, that is EXACTLY how long we will remain utterly powerless to defeat this deadly murderous Enemy, this Regime of Elites that is torturing all our lives into ever increasing degrees of ever more deadly misery.
As any in possession of their rational powers of Reason can see, (and as Mr. Hedges points out so capably), it is the crazed forces of the Woke Cult that are the Enemy’s most powerful weapon against the nation’s Common People. It is these crazed forces of the Woke Cult that have been used with such cunning skill to so fatally divide us, the Common People, into COMPLETE political impotence.
These poor, crazed, unreasoning Woke Zealots, who have been induced to embrace this evil, hate-soaked Woke Cult ideology, have completely disconnected their human powers of rational Reason. They are completely under the control of their hysterical passions. These poor dupes of the Empire can no longer think rationally. They can only emote.
These ‘woke folks’ are GOOD people at heart. It has been their own noble instincts for Justice that have been so cunningly warped by the Enemy Dragon into the crazed, hate-mongering ideology of Identity Politics. This is what our cunning Enemy always does. They exploit the foibles of our human nature to leverage even our most noble inclinations into demented and divisive extremes of hatred.
These good people can recover their good senses. They can awaken from the enslaving fog of this evil, hate-mongering ideology. They are our brothers and sisters. They are our fellow citizens among the Common People. In order for us, the Common People, to unite in all our power to defeat the Ruling Elites, we must eradicate this crazed, evil, hate-mongering ideology from these GOOD people’s minds. We must NOT think in terms of ‘defeating’ these good people. We must think in terms of winning them to our side by eradicating this crazed, Woke Cult ideology from their hearts and minds.
This crazed, evil, hate-mongering Woke Cult ideology, (the ideology, NOT the good people who have fallen under the influence of its enslaving cult power), is itself a dragon. It is the spawn of the Evil Dragon itself. And it is the ‘first dragon’ we, the nation’s Common People, must slay.
We must find a way to free these duped Woke Cult Marionettes from their enslavement by their own unreasoning hysterical passions. We must awaken them from the spell of this evil hate-mongering ideology. We must beseech them to bring their wild, unthinking emotions under the dominion of their human powers of Reason. If they do, when they do, they will immediately ‘see’ how they have been used to defeat their OWN aspirations. They will ‘see’ how their own Enemy has cunningly used them to foster virulent racial hatred under the crazed cult delusion of “fighting racism”. They will ‘see’ how cunningly they have been duped, by their OWN self-avowed Enemy, into being that Enemy’s most effective force serving to keep the Common People fatally divided by raw tribal passions, and thus completely politically impotent.
We, the Common People, must slay this ‘first dragon’ before we can ever even hope to unite our own forces to meet, and to DEFEAT, our Enemy in the field. It is the Woke Cult that is serving the Enemy, that is serving the Evil Dragon, that is serving the Evil Empire so crucially, by guarding the Enemy’s crucial left flank.
It is on this crucially weak left flank that the united forces of the Common People will assault the Enemy, to then sweep around behind, to enclose the Evil Dragon within a ‘cauldron’. We will sweep around, over, and past the Enemy’s left flank, to surround the Evil Dragon, and then we will slay it.
Follow the bouncing ball folks. The beauty in Logic, the beauty in Reason, is in its very simplicity. If it’s true that we can’t free Jules until we can defeat the Empire, and if it’s true that we can’t defeat the Empire until we defeat the Woke Cult, then this Woke Cult is currently the primary impediment to Jules breathing free.
It does NOT matter that these crazed Woke Zealots give lip service to ‘freeing Julian Assange’. Words are cheap. Their deeds speak much louder. These people are the Enemy’s primary force that is serving to divide us into fatal political impotence. Even as the Enemy is under duress on every side all over the Empire, domestically they are currently facing NO credible political opposition at ALL, NONE whatsoever, because our population remains fatally divided by this evil Woke Cult ideology.
C’mon, folks. Let’s eradicate this crazed ideology so we, the Common People, can UNITE in all our unstoppable power. Let’s then kick some Dragon ass, let’s defeat this Evil Empire. Let’s “take back our country”. Then we can “free Julian Assange”.
The entire corporate media acts in unison to disseminate disinformation to the public. This cannot be a coincidence. They function so obviously as a monopoly that they must be, behind the scenes, a monopoly. Further, the owners of this monopoly are clearly acting against the interests of the American people, first by massively deceiving them, and second by destroying the free press.
Hence, these monopoly owners, whoever they are, must be enemies of America. They have infiltrated and taken control of America’s central nervous system. How else are they wrecking America? Obviously they are using their monopoly media to push for needless war with Russia and China. And these moves are playing havoc with America’s economy.
Thus, it seems to me, they are a worse enemy than Russia or China. In fact, since most of the claims that Russia and China are our enemies comes from the thoroughly captured and corrupted corporate media, it’s not clear that Russia and China are actually enemies at all. Especially since they are currently respected and appreciated by the vast majority of countries in Eurasia, Africa, and South America. We need to focus on the enemy within.
My country tis I see—-Land of Hypocrisy.
To this we cling.
Although, HOPEFULLY not for much longer. Taking solace with a possum in an old cartoon
.”We have seen the enemy, and he is us.”
As noted: after the “fairness doctrine” was abolished (Reagan regime), Federal deregulation (Telecom Act 1996, Clinton regime), privatization and consolidation, we have a Mass Media Cartel or oligopoly of cross-sectoral ownership – a de-facto monopoly. The merger of state and corporate power has resulted in a privatized, Ministry of Truth.
Most so-called journalists are merely lackeys, or Sycophantic Stenographers for the oligarchy. (Was it Chris Hedges who coined that?)
That’s why we are here on CN and not on Fox/CNN/PBS/NPR/MSNBC/Guardian/NYT/WaPo etc. websites, unless for some laughs. :-)
The people in US are the most entertained and least informed people in the world. ………. To see how the public so eagerly/mindlessly/uncritically ‘consumes’ what’s called ‘the news’ is very disturbing. ………… Corporate media IS State Media in the US (and in the West, generally). ……. There’s a cottage industry of non-profits that search for analyses/content online that goes against the dominant narratives promoted by the state and conveyed to the public via corporate news outlets.This content is then tagged as ‘Russian disinformation’ or some other nefarious designation and forwarded to Big Tech companies (Facebook, etc.) for action. The content is then de-platformed or algorithmically downgraded. …………. Essentially, this is state censorship with a twist. The dirty work is done by those groups sussing out inconvenient truths and Big Tech.
The level of propaganda in the US is so immersive, it’s like the air we breathe. It’s just THERE – it is inhaled and taken at face value without any other thought.
Truth ultimately kills those disclosing it. And journalism doesn’t care because it is among the killers.
Free Julian Assange..!
To cover up its lies and war crimes, the U.S. government tries to switch the crime from them to the journalists and whistleblowers who exposed them. Case in point is Julian Assange and Wikileaks who exposed them. The U.S. government then charged Assange with serious crimes for doing so. They have taken over fourteen years of Julian’s life from him and still want him move from Belmarsh prison in the UK to stand these crime here in the U.S.
The government didn’t dare to charge the NYT with the same thing, even thought the Times printed what Wikileaks has published.
Thank you, Elizabeth. Yes, we need an amendment to the US Constitution to define mass media (more than say 5% of audience in any region or subject area) and prohibit funding by other than registered individual donations limited to say the average day’s pay annually. A similar amendment prohibiting all but such donations to election campaigns is essential to restore democracy.
Yes, Elizabeth, a powerful piece. And thank you, Sam F for this valuable recommendation. We MUST have regulation of special interests in this country to restore toward honor and decency.
The parallels between Daniel Ellsberg’s Vietnam era Pentagon Papers and now, Airman First Class Teixeira’s classified documents leaks are proving fascinating.
Note only how the American MSM, Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C. are fixating almost exclusively upon the leaker, his background, and his personal motives. They are doing this while scrupulously avoiding any examination of the veracity and implications for what Teixeira has actually leaked. That cannot be a coincidence.
The same misdirection gambit was run fifty years ago over the release of Vietnam War d*mning Pentagon Papers. The main difference, of course, was that it was only the Nixon Administration that was in full throated battle cry to smear, intimidate, and otherwise harass the then leaker, Daniel Ellsberg. Back then and thankfully, the NYTs was like a bulldog on a bone in reporting the many lies told by our government with regard to hiding its failed Vietnam war effort.
Today, it seems as if the NYTs, along with the Washington Post, Facebook, Google, Apple, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, YouTube, and even FOX have all joined forces with the Biden Administration in misdirecting the public’s attention once again away from the content of a leak by focusing on the leaker.
This is no defense of Teixeira’s alleged crimes. They are indeed very serious, but whether this new organized misdirection game will work with influencing the public remains to be seen. Stay tuned.
“Legacy news media” is actually (Deep) State Media, the intentional result of the abolition of Smith Mundt (US law against domestic propaganda) in 2013, and the Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act of 2016. Essentially these new laws turned over the federal government’s Official Narratives to quasi-federal employees LEGALLY controlled by the State Department and CIA. They should no longer be considered journalists any more than Joe Goebbels should be considered a journalist. They are propagandists.
Goes back a lot further than that. The destruction of the American Free Press began to occur under Reagan. Back when Hollywood could still make good movies, there was a flick called “Network” in the mid-70’s warning of the dangers. If nothing else, find Ned Beatty’s performance on UTube and check it out.
American media used to be a much more diverse ownership. Not so much in the modern meaning of the word, but in terms of numbers of people who ‘owned’ it. Before Reagan, America had pro-democracy rules that put limits on how many media outlets could be owned by a single person/corp. So, there were many more owners of local tv stations and local newspapers, etc.
Reagan, and the later Clinton changed this, allowing the creation of the handful of corporations that control the vast majority of what you see, read, hear and for most people, think. A huge corporation that controlled a mass of media outlets was illegal in pro-democracy America. Now a small handful control nearly everything. This enables what you describe.
Reagan also abolished another pro-democracy rule called the “Fairness Doctrine”. Without that change, his media-guy could not have started FoxNews. Imagine people who have different ideas having a right to “Equal Time” on the air to respond. Reagan killed that, IIRC.
What you describe are the final nails in the democracy’s coffin, but the oligarchs have been constructing it for decades to get this result. There is a reason why the honorable Mister Parry left corporate media and founded this site decades ago.
Just because it is highly unlikely that corporate media shows this flick as often as they’d show a comic book flick, there’s two memorable clips from “Network” (1976).
Peter Finch as Howard Beale … “I’m Mad As Hell and I’m not going to take it any more”
and Ned Beatty’s speech.
Spook control of the media is one of the hallmarks of Fascism.. If that weren’t enough, the excessive support of Ukraine’s nazi regime should inform anybody that this fascism has been alive and well for quite some time.. Fortunately, 85% of the world is aware of the propoganda, don’t buy into it, and are slowly establishing a viable alternative to the empire of deceit
I agree that the US commercial media a sycophantic stenographers, but disagree that WaPo or the NYT had a large role in fingering Teixeira. Aric Toler, did assist. He tells them its Discord, but that would or at should have been known by 5 Eyes (CIA/NSA, MI-6/GCHQ, and the Australian, Canadian and New Zealand equivalents).
The source data for the cross identification are the informant (User 1), Discord (Social Media Platform 1) and the US Air National Guard.