From Publishing the Pentagon Papers to Suppressing the Nunes Memo
Friday, February 02, 2018
BCF : In anticipation of the release of the Nunes memo, the media’s servile and sanctimonious treatment of objecting government agencies grows more and more absurd.
Suddenly, the admirers of Daniel Ellsberg are shills for suppressing government secrets. These are the same pundits who told everyone to go see The Post, Hollywood’s nostalgic tribute to the release of the Pentagon Papers. Have they changed their minds? Do they now think the real villains in the movie were the publishers and leakers of classified information? To hear the anchors and pundits today on MSNBC and CNN — hysterically itemizing all the potential damage to the functioning of the FBI and Justice Department the release of the Nunes memo might cause, quoting reverentially government officials censuring the memo — perhaps the real hero of the film should have been John Mitchell.
It all depends on whose ox is being gored, of course. If the release
of government secrets hurts Republicans or some cherished conservative
cause, journalists support it. If the release hurts Democrats or some
cherished liberal cause, they oppose it. Daniel Ellsberg, good. Devin
Nunes, bad. But unlike Ellsberg, Nunes has broken no laws. No matter;
the media will treat him as a traitor while exonerating real ones.
In the New York Times,
retrospectives on the Pentagon Papers will often appear, invariably
portraying government officials as self-interested crooks or boobs and
concluding with a windy quote or two from Hugo Black about the supreme
importance of publication. Don’t let “national security” or other stated
government interests trump the people’s right to know about government
misdeeds — that’s the upshot of these pieces. But that’s the argument
the Times is using against the Nunes memo. It quotes very
piously and uncritically the “grave concerns” of FBI officials who argue
“not to publish.”