Washington Reform Message Resonates In Connecticut
Connecticut's tradition of vigorous civic institutions remains intact as a force for reform, as I saw during my lecture tour there last week.
This is good news for the rest of the country. Given the decline of the nation's watchdog institutions located in the capital, remedial action can only come "bottom up" from grassroots. Grassroots volunteerism is different from the phony "grasstop" organizations that special interests in Washington create whereby pseudo-populist groups manipulate public opinion.
My Connecticut trip June 18-20 was to discuss Presidential Puppetry, the first book about the Obama administration's second term. The strong civic institutions I saw and their reaction revealed positive signs amid discouraging news about national officials and the mainstream media.
In a message similar to my own these days, the prominent investigative editor Charles Lewis, for example, told a National Press Club audience June 24 in Washington, DC that "lying" by government officials has become standard operating procedure.
Lewis was announcing his memoir 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America's Integrity at the 25th anniversary of the Center for Public Integrity. In 1989, he founded the pioneering (and now Pulitzer-winning) non-partisan, non-profit group in a spare room of his house after he resigned in frustration from hidden corporate pressures he had experienced as a producer for the top-rated CBS News show "60 Minutes."
Asked about the "commonalities" he has observed since then as a reporter and journalism professor, Lewis, shown at left, responded, "Not to be glib, but the commonalities are that if you were listening to government officials they were usually lying, or at least being non-responsive and kicking the problem down the road."
My column today compares his expert observations over his three decades with what I observed in Connecticut, where I began my reporting career in 1970 with 14 years at the Hartford Courant, the state's largest newspaper.
I started by observing the annual awards luncheon of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information (CCFOI) and hearing how civic volunteers are fighting secrecy in government. I wanted to hear especially the award presentation for columnist Andy Thibault, a fierce fighter against injustice who also kindly volunteered to arrange my lectures.
Next, I participated in the process by lectures and interviews that drew from Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. The subtitle reflects its focus on what the mainstream media has missed about power brokers and such Republican officials as the Romney and Bush families, not just Democrats.
From these experiences, I share recommended measures for reform, as well as traps for the unwary. Some of these obstacles arise from masters of political intrigue who undertake despicable deeds with impunity because they can be confident that few are exposing their corruption in ways noticed by the public.
The work of the freedom of information council, CCFOI, is a great place to start our discussion.
Council Chairman James Herbert Smith, a longtime editor at the Courant and several other Connecticut newspapers, is shown at right presenting to Thibault the group's annual award to a journalist whose work best fostered open government during the previous year.
CCFOI is a private group that advocates support for the state's 1975 Freedom of Information law. Its annual budget the past year was just over $11,000, which was raised primarily from dues provided by the state's newspapers.
CCFOI's major spending was for lobbying at the state capitol to fight relentless efforts to curtail government information provided to the public. Smith, the CCFOI chairman, has been a prominent editor at multiple Connecticut newspapers, including the Hartford Courant.
- In 1960, one news reporting job existed compared to approximately one in public relations. Now public relations operatives outnumber reporters 4:1. "That's a problem."
- Twenty-seven states have no general circulation news reporter covering Washington news specifically pertaining to the state.
- Lewis himself resigned from the nation's most prestigious investigative show, "60 Minutes," after he encountered repeated self-censorship from some of the nation's leading news executives to protect, in his view, influential executives in both government and the private sector. These included the Wall Street, foundation and government eminence Peter Peterson, perhaps the nation's most effective voice in seeking a new level of austerity in social safety net programs.
Related News Coverage
Justice Integrity Project, Washington Reform Message Resonates In Connecticut, Andrew Kreig, June 27, 2014. Connecticut's tradition of vigorous civic institutions remains intact as a force for reform, I saw during my lecture tour there last week. This is good news for the rest of the country in light of sobering trends. The prominent investigative editor Charles Lewis, for example, told a National Press Club audience June 24 in Washington, DC that "lying" by government officials has become standard operating procedure.
Politico, Why I Left 60 Minutes, Charles Lewis, June 29, 2014. The big networks say they care about uncovering the truth. That’s not what I saw. Imagine discovering that a paid FBI informant may have actually killed a civil rights worker during one of the most famous civil rights marches in U.S. history? Or that a top county public school official had put 23 of his relatives on the payroll, sexually harassed female employees and separately had informed the parents of handicapped students that their children couldn’t attend school. Or uncovering the fact that the most famous divorce lawyer in America had been literally raping his clients. Or that the (then) biggest savings and loan fraud in the U.S. was actually an inside job, in which a banker had allowed his financial institution to be defrauded as he received millions of dollars from the perpetrators. Or that a presidential campaign co-chairman had helped teach white supremacist groups how to develop a militia capacity. In Washington, D.C., especially in Washington D.C., an investigative reporter’s shit detector must be mighty.
New Haven Register, Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information announces open government award recipients, June 18, 2014. South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed, left, accepts an award from Mitchell Pearlman of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information at the Hartford Club Wednesday. At right, Council Chairman James Herbert Smith bestows the Stephen Collins open government award on Andy Thibault (Robert Theisman Photos). A police chief, a state senator, an FOI Commission employee and two journalists have won the annual open government awards from the nonprofit Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information, which has been advocating for freedom of information for six decades. South Windsor Police Chief Matt Reed was presented the Bice Clemow Award for his goal to “put out as much information as possible” to the public about crime in his community. Blogger and Digital First Media columnist Andy Thibault received the Stephen A. Collins Award for his dogged pursuit on virtually every FOI battlefront in the past year. Thibault was instrumental in ensuring that the clemency hearing of convicted murderer Bonnie Foreshaw proceeded in public, according to the CCFOI. State Sen. Edward Meyer received the Champion of Open Government Award for consistently voting for transparency in government and the people’s right to know. “He was one of only two senators to vote against making secret crime scene photos and emergency phone calls after the Sandy Hook school shooting,” the CCFOI said in its statement. Champion of Open Government awards also went to reporter Hugh McQuaid of the CTNewsjunkie for his “nuanced, straightforward, fair, insightful and alert” coverage on the governors task force on Victim Privacy and the People’s Right to Know, and the debates over the issue in the General Assembly; and to Thomas Hennick, public information officer of the FOI Commission.
21st Century Media, Post-Watergate Motto: 'We Eat Lawyers Bones for Breakfast,' Andy Thibault, June 24, 2014. This will be the last regular installment of Cool Justice for 21st Century Media in Connecticut. I have the pleasure of digging into a couple special assignments and expect to have some work in print with our group over the next few months. As Cool Justice concludes this chapter, I thought it would be fun to share a few remembrances. Syndicated columnist and author Andy Thibault is shown in a June 18, 2014 Robert Thiesfield photo accepting the annual open government prize conferred by the CCFOI at its annual awards luncheon.
'Presidential Puppetry' Lectures
Oliver Wolcott Library Litchfield, CT, 'Presidential Puppetry'+ with Author Andrew Kreig, Staff Report, Event from 7 to 8 p.m. June 19, 2014. Presidential Puppetry is a book about the nation’s leading political families providing a “Rosetta Stone” to understanding current Washington political standoffs and strategies. Unfolding as a DC-based mystery story, it leads the reader step-by-step to a deeper understanding of 2014 political controversies on a range of issues, including austerity, budgets, national security, privacy, political candidates, and press freedom. In non-partisan fashion, author Andrew Kreig shows via a century of history h ow the nation’s behind-the-scenes power structure empowered the Bushs, Clintons, Romneys, and Obamas. To research Puppetry, Kreig drew on mainstream reporting augmented by a rare blend of right, left, academic, and global intelligence experts. Its explosive 350-page narrative is documented with more than 1,100 endnotes.
Justice Integrity Project, Past, Present Connecticut Activists Provide Models For Reform, Andrew Kreig, June 17, 2014, updated June 20. Revolutionary-era Gov. Oliver Wolcott and open government advocate Andy Thibault are two Connecticut patriots who inspired me as I prepared for a series of hard-hitting lectures this week in the state where I began my reporting career. My lecture theme in Hartford was, "Protecting Connecticut’s Civic Culture from the National Surveillance State." The topic in Litchfield was more general call for reform of disgraceful Washington-based activities hurting the nation. Wolcott and Thibault exemplify a reform impulse once far more widespread and powerful across the country than now. We need that more than ever.
Torrington Register Citizen, Author Andrew Kreig to talk government secrets in Litchfield, Shako Liu (shown in a file photo), June 11, 2014. Author and attorney Andrew Kreig is going to tell secrets of the federal government in his new book Presidential Puppetry. He will talk at the Rotary Club of Litchfield-Morris, and then the Oliver Wolcott Library on June 19. An average American commits three felonies a day, Kreig cited from the book Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent by Harvey Silverglate. The dysfunctional criminal justice system has exposed scores of people—doctors, lawyers, journalists, businesspeople—to sudden, arbitrary prosecution, according to the book.
Torrington Register Citizen, Andrew Kreig makes an impact with new book, Owen Canfield, June 21, 2014. Owen Canfield, shown in a file photo, started writing a Sunday column for The Register Citizen on Sept. 14, 2008. He had started his career at The Torrington Register 50 years ago, before leaving for a job at the Hartford Courant in 1965. Andrew Kreig has written an important book and Thursday he came to Litchfield’s beautiful Oliver Wolcott Library to speak about it. I haven’t yet had a chance to read the book, which is 469 pages long, including more than 1,100 footnotes, index, etc. We knew each other very well when we were both employed by The Courant, he as an investigative reporter and I as a sports columnist. I have nothing but good memories of Andy. It was great to see him again and even greater to listen and absorb his very important message.
Dissident Voice, How Finance Controls the White House, Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall (shown at right), June 14, 2014. Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters by Andrew Kreig (Eagle View Books, 2013) is a comprehensive expose of the wealthy corporate interests who are the real power behind the federal government. Kreig orients his book around Obama and Romney, the major presidential candidates in the 2012 elections. However in discussing Mitt Romney’s hidden ties to the financial oligarchy, he also explores the Bush family’s Wall Street connections, the history and structure of the Mormon Church (especially as it relates to corporate America) and Karl Rove’s role in orchestrating Republican dirty tricks and voting fraud. Presidential Puppetry is meticulously researched and sourced, with a 17-page bibliography and 110 pages of footnotes and references. Kreig, a lawyer and Washington DC journalist, takes the 2012 presidential debates as his point of departure, noting the deliberate secrecy of both candidates around their personal background. This deliberate secrecy should have been a campaign issue. Yet neither raised it in the debates – there seemed to be a gentleman’s agreement not to do so. Kreig is also scathingly critical of the mainstream media’s failure to challenge either the secrecy or corrupt corporate influences it concealed.
Foreign Affairs, Cold War and Organized Crimes Selected Topics
Wayne Madsen Report (WMR),Truman and first CIA director condemned the CIA after JFK assassination, Wayne Madsen, June 13, 2014 (subscription required). Investigative reporter and author Wayne Madsen is a former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst. WMR uncovered from President Harry Truman's personal papers at his presidential library in Independence, Missouri, a scathing attack on the CIA in an exchange of letters with the first CIA director, Admiral Sidney W. Souers. At the end of December 1963, just a month after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Truman [shown at left] penned a syndicated column for the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA) that voiced his regret for creating the CIA in 1947. The Evansville (Indiana) Courier ran the candid Truman op-ed under the headline: "He Founded It -- Truman Deplores Change in C.I.A. Role." Editor's Note: Truman's message attracted little notice from the United States media, perhaps in part because of the heavy involvement of intelligence services in the mainstream media at the time. NANA's funding, for example, derived in significant part from British intelligence sources.
Overseas Press Club of America, Cookbook Helped to Bond Club Members in the 1960s, Andrew Kreig, March 11, 2014. In 1962, the Overseas Press Club Cookbook portrayed the dining adventures of 60 foreign correspondents from the club's first era. As the club celebrates its 75th anniversary, the cookbook brings to life those first generations. My mother, Margaret Kreig (1922-98) was an OPC member in the 1960s who bequeathed me her copy and memories of a career facilitated by club predecessors.
Justice Integrity Project, Learning from Heroes Who Fought the Mafia, Andrew Kreig, June 20, 2011. The nation’s top leaders from both parties put aside their differences in the l1960s to create tough-but-fair law enforcement tools that broke the Mafia’s horrid power. That process was the focus of a fascinating panel organized by the Richard Nixon Foundation and convening surviving experts. At right are President Richard Nixon and Attorney Gen. Robert F. Kennedy, who made key decisions -- including staff hires -- to fight organized crime in unprecedented ways.
Catching Our Attention on other Media Issues
Columbia Journalism Review, Brick by brick: After years of shrinking ambition at the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos has the paper thinking global domination, Michael Meyer, June 26, 2014. In April, six months after her family sold the newspaper it had controlled for eight decades to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth walked onstage in the paper’s auditorium to reverse what had been the signature strategy of her six years at the helm. Since she was named publisher in February 2008, a year the newspaper division of The Washington Post Company declared a loss of $193 million, Weymouth had sought to codify the Post’s identity as a paper “For and about Washington.” While touted as a strategy to leverage the Post’s brand of national politics reporting in the digital era, “For and about Washington” was a phrase meant to put a positive spin on retrenchment. As a practical matter, “For and about Washington” meant the Post no longer covered stories beyond its circulation area unless they had a direct link to political Washington or a federal government interest. Exceptions were made for impossible-to-ignore events, like school shootings and other catastrophes, but all domestic bureaus were closed and correspondents were called home.
OpEdNews, Do Something Small Today -- Recollections of a Conversation With Howard Zinn, Rob Kall, June 29, 2014. What are you going to do today to fight the system? If even a small percentage of the population did something every day, things would change. I asked Howard Zinn (shown in a file photo via Flickr), about a year before he passed away, what it would take to clean up the mess we're in.
CQ Roll Call, Why the White House’s e-Petition Site Failed, Chris Nehls, June 25, 2014. Online petitions are one bread-and-butter technique for issue advocacy. Sites like MoveOn and Change.org generate thousands of new petitions every month. The spectacular flame-out of the White House’s We The People online petition site, then, provides a unique worst practices test case for this particular civic tool. Connectivity editorial advisor Dave Karpf examines why the e-petition site failed in a recent article on TechPresident, How the White House's We the People E-Petition Site Became a Virtual Ghost-Town.
Gallup, Key Midterm Election Indicators at or Near Historical Lows, Jeffrey M. Jones, June 16, 2014. Approval of Congress at 16%; national satisfaction at 23%. The election environment for congressional incumbents in 2014 will be challenging, with several key public opinion indicators as negative or nearly as negative as they have been in any recent midterm election year. This includes congressional job approval, which, at 16%, is on pace to be the lowest in a midterm election year since Gallup first measured it in 1974. Approval was 21% in 2010 and 50% in 2002.
FireDogLake, NSA Whistleblowers to Testify Before German Parliamentary Committee in July, Kevin Gosztola, June 26, 2014. National Security Agency whistleblowers Thomas Drake (shown at the National Press Club in a photo by Noel St. John) and William Binney will testify before a German parliamentary committee on July 3. They both will give testimony as part of an inquiry into details of NSA surveillance in Germany, which have been revealed through news stories based upon documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The Bundestag committee will likely be asking questions about surveillance by the “Five Eyes” states—United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand—and their collection of data and interception of communications in Germany. The committee will also ask about how data was collected, retained, checked and analyzed by surveillance programs operated by the NSA and the British spy agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), as well as how private companies helped these agencies. It also hopes to learn more on the use of diplomatic missions or military sites for surveillance and to what extent German, European or international laws were violated.
FireDogLake, Murdoch’s Favorite Editor, Rebekah Brooks, Cleared of Phone Hacking Charges, Spocko, June 24, 2014. The former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has been cleared of all charges in the phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey. Brooks, the one-time editor of the News of the World, was overcome with emotion as she was found not guilty of involvement in a conspiracy to hack phones between 2000 and 2006, as well as misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice. But while Brooks walked free from court to a waiting black cab today, her fellow former editor and ex-Downing Street spin doctor Andy Coulson was found guilty on one count of phone hacking. The jury returned this morning after continuing its deliberations for an eighth day, following the high profile trial that began in October last year. Brooks and Coulson, along with retired managing editor Stuart Kuttner, had been accused of being part of a conspiracy to hack phones over the course of a six-year period. Now we see what political power can get you. I’m sure there is a lesson for us here in the US. I remember thinking, “With a combo of good journalists, lawyers and politicians we could uncover dirt at Fox News.” We could even use the Corrupt Foreign Practices Act. But the trick was to find others who felt as strongly as I did. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, who controls News of the World, is shown in a 2009 photo via Wikipedia and photographer Gage Skidmore.
Huffington Post, By Rehabilitating Iraq War Boosters, Is the Press Trying to Forgive Itself? Eric Boehlert June 23, 2014. The bad bout of 2003 déjà vu continued on Sunday when former Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on ABC's This Week to lecture President Obama about how his policies had allegedly made a mess out of Iraq, as violence there continues to grip the country and threatens to completely destabilize the nation. Cheney's appearance continues a maddening, week-long stroll down Baghdad memory lane as media outlets rush to get commentary from the people who, 11 years ago, got everything wrong about the Iraq War: The stunning cost, the causalities, the war planning, the intelligence, the sectarian violence. Why the strange rehabilitation? Here's a hint: People might be forgetting the deep bond that ran between the compliant Beltway media in 2003 and the very same failed Iraq War architects and partisan boosters the press is now turning to for advice. In other words, the Beltway press was part of the Iraq problem then. So it's not that surprising the press is part of the problem now.
Paul Craig Roberts.org, A New Recession and a New World Devoid of Washington’s Arrogance? Paul Craig Roberts, June 25, 2014. Dr. Roberts, a conservative author and historian, was formerly associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and assistant Treasury Secretary during the Reagan administration. A final number for real US GDP growth in the first quarter of 2014 was released today. The number is not the 2.6% growth rate predicted by the know-nothing economists in January of this year. The number is a decline in GDP of -2.9 percent. The US economy cannot grow because corporations pushed by Wall Street have moved the US economy offshore. US manufactured products are made offshore. Look at the labels on your clothes, your shoes, your eating and cooking utensils, your computers, whatever. US professional jobs such as software engineering have been moved offshore. An economy with an off-shored economy is not an economy. All of this happened in full view, while well-paid free market shills declared that Americans were benefiting from giving America’s middle class jobs to China and India. I have been exposing these lies for a decade or two, which is why I am no longer invited to speak at American universities or to American economic associations.
Daily Howler, The view from Merrywood! Bob Somerby, June 27, 2014. Bob Somerby is a comedian and was one the nation's first political bloggers in the 1990s with the Daily Howler, which focuses on media criticism. Slate’s John Dickerson, also political director for CBS News, is one of many leading scribes who quickly echoed the latest narrative, "Does Hillary Clinton Feel Your Pain?" He wrote, "Why do Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden want you to think they are penniless?" All over the press corps, a large assortment of lazy script-readers quickly echoed the guild’s new line about Hillary Clinton being too wealthy, or out of touch, or possibly too gaffe-ridden. The fact that the obscenely wealthy Diane Sawyer initiated this wildly premature discussion has officially struck no one as strange. But then, everyone agrees on one key rule of life in the Washington press corps — the massive wealth of our leading “journalists” must never be discussed. This brings us to Dickerson’s early life as the reigning “Fresh Prince of Merrywood.” See also, Anthropology Lessons: Invention of Narrative 101!
OpEdNews, Lawrence Wilkerson Interview: Predatory Capitalism, China, Climate Change, Oligarch Parties, Rob Kall, June 23, 2014. The former chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell talks about predatory capitalism, dual oligarchic parties, blood on the streets, socialism in capitalism, death of unions, secession of California, New England, southern parasite states, climate change, destabilizing mass migrations north, population explosion, and the "Scramble" scenario.
Truthdig,The New York Times’ Desperate Dive to the Bottom, Bill Boyarsky, June 24, 2014. The author is a former city editor of the Los Angeles Times. The motto of The New York Times has long been “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” After reading the Times report on how the paper might survive the digital era, I’m afraid it could be overtaken by a concept called “good enough.” “We must push back against our perfectionist impulses,” the report released last month said. The report, prepared by an internal task force headed by Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, an heir to the paper and formerly assistant metro editor, is called Innovation. In 96 pages, it prescribes drastic surgery to push the paper away from its fixation with print. Technical savvy and quick adaptability would be the hallmark of a new Times journalist—that and an ability to find and connect with an audience in the manner of The Huffington Post and the hot site BuzzFeed.
Birmingham News via Al.com, Shelby County judge orders arrest of Legal Schnauzer blogger Roger Shuler, Kent Faulk, June 18, 2014. A Shelby County blogger who spent five months in jail until he removed from his website stories about the son of former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley is now in more trouble with the law. A Shelby County judge recently issued a writ of arrest for Roger Shuler, author of the Legal Schnauzer blog, court records show. Efforts today to reach Shuler prior to the publication of this story were unsuccessful. The writ states that Shuler failed to make payment of court ordered fees and fines and did not appear as ordered by the court. Shelby County District Court Judge Ronald E. Jackson ordered that Shuler be arrested on the probation revocation complaint. The judge set an $845 cash bond that Shuler would have to post to be released from jail while a hearing is pending on revocation of his probation. Jackson had sentenced Shuler to 90 days in jail based on his conviction. But the judge suspended the sentence two years. Editor's Note: Shuler is shown in his jail mug shot the night of his arrest and beating in his garage Oct. 23 in Birmingham. Deputies arrested him on a contempt of court charge arising out of a libel suit, and then alleged he had to be subdued for resisting arrest. Shuler, held without bond on the contempt of court charge, unsuccessfully defended himself in court from the resisting arrest charge in a trial held without a defense lawyer and while Shuler had no ability to call witnesses, file motions or consult legal books. The major journalism organizations failed to argue on his behalf even though multiple Supreme Court decisions forbid jailing journalists pre-trial in a libel case or ordering prior restraint.
New York Times, Supreme Court Rejects Appeal From Times Reporter Over Refusal to Identify Source, Adam Liptak, June 2, 2014. The Supreme Court on Monday turned down an appeal from James Risen, a reporter for the New York Times facing jail for refusing to identify a confidential source. The court’s one-line order gave no reasons but effectively sided with the government in a confrontation between what prosecutors said was an imperative to secure evidence in a national security prosecution and what journalists said was an intolerable infringement of press freedom. The case arose from a subpoena to Mr. Risen seeking information about his source for a chapter of his 2006 book, “State of War.” Prosecutors say they need Mr. Risen’s testimony to prove that the source was Jeffrey Sterling, a former C.I.A. official. In the adjoining photo courtesy of photographer Noel St. John, James Risen is shown with Reporters Without Borders U.S. Director Delphine Halgand last February at a news conference announcing her group's annual chart of press freedom and repression worldwide.
Global Research,Today’s Oligarch Curtain of Lies, Theft, Death and Destruction Are Exposed As Never Before, Joachim Hagopian, June 28, 2014. An author, Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. Currently in America and many places throughout the world many of us are undergoing a fundamental change in our belief system as we come to realize what we have been taught as reality turns out anything but. Beyond the US and Europe, more citizens around the globe are growing angrier with their elected officials, realizing politicians’ priority is to serve the needs of their oligarch puppet master over the needs of their own people. Similar negative sentiments toward mainstream media also represent an across the boards distrust toward corporatized media coverage of world events. Even such traditionally prestigious and reputable newspapers like the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal are now regarded as in-bed, embedded journalism fused with the government. As such, last year’s June Gallup poll indicated that a whopping 80% of Americans aged 21 to 64 find mainstream media lacks credibility.
White House Chronicles, When Less Was More in the News Business, Llewellyn King, June 30, 2014. When I first worked at the newspaper trade in Washington, back in 1966, it was a different journalism. Covering the White House was a simple matter: once through the gate, you could stroll through the West Wing and talk to people. Today, even if you have a regular or so-called hard pass, you are restricted to walking down the driveway to the press briefing room. If you have an appointment, or want to smell the flowers, you have to have an escort – usually a young person from the press office. Why this is, and what the purpose of this minder is, nobody has been able to tell me. It is so dispiriting to see the equanimity with which reporters accept their "prisoner status.” It did not happen overnight, but gradually under president after president. In my time in Washington, reporter freedom has been curtailed at the White House to the point that unless you want to go to the briefing, there is no point in going through the gate. No news is available because you, the reporter, are not at liberty to collect it. But the real change is the proliferation of political media. This means there are more reporters chasing snippets of news. The big issues get lost as often as not while the news hounds are baying after trivia, little non-events, misstatements, or failure to apologize for imagined sleights. Also, White House staffers and people who work on Capitol Hill have less and less confidence in reporters and are less frank with them. I find very little point in interviewing Congress people these days because they worry that whatever they say will, if you like, go into their record to be dredged up way in the future.
LaRouche PAC, Obama's 'Drone Memo' Confirms—It's Murder, Staff report, June 28, 2014. On Monday, June 23, a federal appellate court released the so-called "drone memo" (Re: Applicability of Federal Criminal Laws and the Constitution to Contemplated Lethal Operations Against Shaykh anwar al-Aulaqi) authored three years ago by David Barron, Acting Assistant Attorney General, on behalf of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which memo justifies Obama's asserted right to kill American citizens overseas, employing drones, in violation of the Constitutionally guaranteed right to due process. In a column June 24 in the Guardian, Jameel Jaffer, the attorney who argued the case before the appellate court, pointed out, "Large parts of the memo—almost a third of it—have been redacted. The first 11 pages, which describe the government's allegations against al-Awlaki, are redacted in their entirety. Throughout the remainder of the memo, citations, sentences and even whole paragraphs have been stripped out, in some cases to protect genuine sources and methods but in others to obscure the precedents underlying the government's legal arguments. The redactions in the drone memo's footnotes are perhaps the most disturbing, because they suggest the existence of an entire body of secret law...withheld from the American public."
WebProNews, Will Policy Changes Make Wikipedia More Trustworthy? Chris Crum, June 16, 2014. The Wikimedia Foundation announced changes to its terms of service to address the problem of black hat paid editing of content such as Wikipedia articles. With half a billion people using Wikipedia every month, and the major search engines drawing from its information for quick answers to users’ queries, it’s pretty important that the content remains unbiased and factual, and not tainted by the influence of money in an undisclosed manner. “This new change will empower Wikipedia’s editor community to address the issue of paid editing in an informed way by helping identify edits that should receive additional scrutiny,” a spokesperson for the foundation tells WebProNews. “In addition, the change will help educate good-faith editors as to how they can continue editing in the spirit of the Foundation’s mission and provide additional tools in enforcing existing rules about conflicts of interest and paid editing.” Those who are being paid to edit will need to disclose the paid editing to comply with the new ToS [Terms of Service], and add their affiliation to their edit summary, user page, or talk page, and “fairly disclose” their perspective. There’s an FAQ about this here. Those who edit Wikipedia as volunteers and “for fun” don’t have to worry about anything changing with the new terms. Those employed by galleries, libraries, museums, etc. that pay employees to make “good faith” contributions are considered “welcome to edit” as long as the contributions aren’t about the actual institutions themselves.