As the history of PINAC has shown, the perspective of a news outlet will determine the content of its stories. Where local newspapers dependent on police sources for stories have typically parroted police statements as facts, PINAC and the wave of internet journalism have many times exposed how far from the truth a reporter strays by relying solely on the words of police officers.
The national news desk is no different as so-called “mainstream media” magazines, newspapers and television networks report the perspective of the White House press secretary or press releases from Washington insiders as gospel, only to be ravaged by the real story later on.
The recent video of Sunday Times (of London) reporter Tom Harper on CNN is a perfect example of what happens to a “reporter” in the 21st century that fails to investigate the merits of a government official’s claims.
After the Sunday Times reported that the Russians and Chinese had “cracked” or been given secret U.S. files from Edward Snowden – a report that was thoroughly refuted around the internet – the reality of how the Times came to their conclusion was exposed in an interview given by Times reporter Tom Harper on CNN.
After the Times argued in print that Snowden had “blood on his hands” (even though no one has been harmed) and claimed that Snowden gave documents to Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, in Moscow (despite the fact that Miranda had not been in Moscow), Harper inadvertently explained on CNN how such inaccurate information came to be reported as fact in the Sunday Times.
They essentially just wrote down whatever UK government officials told them.
You can watch the cringe-worthy interview here or watch it below.
Here’s the blow-by-blow, as reported by Techdirt’s Mike Masnick:
CNN’s George Howell kicks it off by asking how U.K. officials could possibly know that the Chinese and Russians got access to the files, and Harper immediately resorts to the “hey, I just write down what they tell me!” defense:
“Um… well… I don’t know the answer to that, George. Um…. All we know is that… um… this is effectively the official position of the British government. Um…. we picked up on it… um… a while ago. And we’ve been working on it and trying to stand it up through multiple sources. And when we approached the British government late last week with our evidence, they confirmed, effectively, what you read today in the Sunday Times”
Again: government official tells them stuff, and they confirm with another government official — and that’s the story. Note that he says he showed the UK government “evidence” yet there is no evidence in the article itself. Just quotes and speculation. He goes on, trying to downplay the entire point of journalism, which should be to ferret out the truth. But, to Thomas Harper, if you question his report, you should be asking the government about it, not him. That’s not his job.
“It’s obviously allegation at the moment, from our point of view. And it’s really for the British government to defend it.”
So, you publish an explosive story based on anonymous quotes and already proven falsehoods, and then you refuse to defend it, saying that it’s the government’s job to do so? Do you even know what a journalist is supposed to be doing, Harper?
Howell digs deeper, questioning how the UK government even knows which files Snowden took — and questioning if the UK government has been able to decipher that as well. Harper, again, pushes it aside, saying he has no idea and they avoided such tricky questions altogether:
“Again, that’s not something we’re clear on. So, we don’t go into that level of detail in the story…we just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government.”
In short, his argument is that he heard these allegations through a “well placed source” within the UK government and he sought to corroborate the claim… by asking another source in the UK government who said “that’s true!” and Harper ran with it.
Howell then points to one of the many contradictions in the story: the idea that Russia/China hacked into the Snowden files… and the claim that they were just handed over. And again, Harper pleads ignorance. He’s just the stenographer:
“Again, sorry to just repeat myself, George, but we don’t know, so we haven’t written that in the paper. Um… you know, it could be either. It could be another scenario.”
I mean, it could be that the great fairyland dragon from the 6th dimension dreamed up the Snowden documents and then gave them to Russia and China. Who the fuck knows? I’m just a reporter, man. Why would you ask me for evidence or facts? I’m just rewriting what some government guys told me!
While this interview is proof positive that one major news organization – the Sunday Times – is merely repeating what government officials say and reporting it as fact (rather than investigating the merits of the story or qualifying a government official’s words as mere speculation or accusation), this damaging scenario could easily have blown up in the faces of The New York Times, NBC News, Fox News, MSNBC, Time Magazine and dozens of other parrot news warehouses.
The corporate media – those whose CEOs have been in attendance of the Bilderberg Group meetings where real journalists were interrogated by police for daring to cover the event – is paid to report the news as decided on in those hush-hush conferences of Fortune 500 CEOs, billionaire bank owners and heads of state.
For real news, you need reporters who are not paid to lie. Below are just a few outlets besides PINAC dedicated to reporting the truth. If you would like to make a donation to PINAC, please click on The PINAC Fund.
- Ben Swann
- First Look: The Intercept
- Keiser Report
- Project Censored
- Reality Zone
- The Liberty Crier
- We Are Change