Picking and Choosing Which Journalistic Outlets to Treat as Journalistic Outlets

Tuesday, Philip Shenon reported that Wikileaks wanted the Defense Department’s help reviewing the next batch of documents it will release for names that should be redacted.

Julian Assange wants the Pentagon’s help.

His secretive WikiLeaks website tells The Daily Beast it is making an urgent request to the Defense Department for help reviewing 15,000 still-secret American military reports to remove the names of Afghan civilians and others who might be endangered when the website makes the reports public.

[snip]In a phone interview Tuesday with The Daily Beast, Schmitt said the site wanted to open a line of communication with the Defense Department in order to review an additional 15,000 classified reports in an effort to “make redactions so they can be safely published.” Schmitt said that these reports also relate to American military operations in Afghanistan.

It was a good play from Wikileaks, as it would place Wikileaks in the same position as newspapers like NYT and WaPo which occasionally spike information the government says is particularly sensitive. However, the government chose to pretend it doesn’t have this kind of conversation all the time, and also to pretend that it doesn’t regularly do FOIA reviews for this kind of information.

Instead, DOD spokesperson Geoff Morrell, doing his best Agent Smith imitation, “demand[ed]” that Wikilieaks return all the documents it has received, repeating “do the right thing” over and over.

Of course, no other journalistic outlet would do what Morrell called “doing the right thing.” (To the credit of some of the journalists covering Morrell’s Agent Smith show, they seem somewhat dubious of the claims logic.)

Meanwhile, DOD has also revoked Michael Hastings’ permission embed in Afghanistan, claiming the unit in question does not trust Hastings (though the move appears to be retaliation for Hastings’ refusal to cooperate in a DOD IG probe of Hastings’ article).

The government is not supposed to license favored press in this country. But what DOD is doing is choosing only to play ball with those outlets with which it is chummy enough to largely influence the coverage of.

Which I suppose makes it different than a license. It’s like a membership in a secret tree house that you’ve got to know the secret password to belong to.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Which I suppose makes it different than a license. It’s like a membership in a secret tree house that you’ve got to know the secret password to belong to.

      Nah.
      Try: “Aspens… connected at their roots.”

  1. BoxTurtle says:

    I’m not sure ANY government spokesperson knows the difference between right and wrong anymore.

    Boxturtl (But I’m confident if they DO know, they don’t care)

  2. skdadl says:

    The Washington Times (forgive me) reports that the Pentagon is barring personnel from visiting Wikileaks:

    “[Department of the Navy] personnel should not access the WikiLeaks website to view or download the publicized classified information,” said a July 29 message to sailors from the Navy’s national security litigation law division. “Doing so would introduce potentially classified information on unclassified networks.”

    “There has been rumor that the information is no longer classified since it resides in the public domain. This is NOT true,” said the message, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.

    Memories of Joshua Claus.

    • MadDog says:

      Popeye can’t believe it. Swabbies can always visit Wikileaks as long as they keep their eyes closed.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      They’re planning to have the justice dept charge every American who accessed that site. Except former Bush officals.

      Boxturtle (They want us to inform on each other)

      • skdadl says:

        Do you think they get even madder at us when they know that we’re laughing at them? Sometimes I worry about that, so I try to stifle the giggles.

        • BoxTurtle says:

          Don’t worry about it.They genuinely don’t care what anybody who doesn’t send them money thinks.

          Boxturtle (Unless we get in their way)

  3. prostratedragon says:

    Oh, I think getting belittled really burns ’em. It usually does with that type.

    (Love that treehouse figure, EW! Someone should use it to make up a twisted kiddie show.)

  4. fatster says:

    As bmaz said on the previous post (Joshua Claus) @ 18:

    “It is a response play to Assange boxing them with the request to help redact the next release.”

    Wonder what the next step, er swing, will be.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    NPR and other news outlets described Hastings’ article as “causing” the termination of General McChrystal’s long career. Surely, Shirley, it was Gen. McCrystal’s own behavior that did that, a distinction a reporter that’s gone through more than one pair of soles should have tatooed on the back of his hand.

    Hastings was not a player between McChrystal, the military and the President; he was a fly on the wall. Hastings hasn’t been sued for defamation, for getting his facts wrong; he’s been demeaned and ostracized for getting them right and for informing the public about an important point. That’s something too many in the MSM no longer consider their job.

  6. bobschacht says:

    What’s at stake here is *Access.* DFH’s and rogue websites like Wikileaks are not supposed to have access. Good and proper establishment news organizations like the NYT and WaPo are given access in exchange for compliance with Administration apron strings. Its the same deal with the Washington Cocktail circuit (what kind of tasty treats were the cocktail circuits that used to be frequented by Karl Rove supposed to be? I’ve forgotten already): If you don’t comply, you don’t get invited.

    Bob in AZ

  7. TomThumb says:

    Now that the generals are trying to wipe out every trace of war which they thought they had conducted in secrecy it is more important than ever before to make your self a hard copy of the released documents and videos.

  8. JamesJoyce says:

    Picking and choosing journalist? This is exactly what Nazis did! Fascist fucking bastatrds………..

  9. klynn says:

    Speaking of “picking and choosing” journalists.

    Interesting story about Digg breaking

    The popular link-sharing website Digg is investigating claims that a group of the site’s “influential conservative” members are systematically downgrading thousands of stories deemed to be “liberal”.

    Online magazine AlterNet claimed to have uncovered a group of Digg members – dubbed “Digg Patriots” – who have “censored hundreds of users, dozens of websites, and thousands of stories” from the site. Alternet alleged that the Digg Patriots, thought to number nearly 100 members, are “able to bury over 90% of articles by certain users and websites submitted within 1-3 hours”.

    Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, said via Twitter: “We’re looking into this.”

    The GOP want to censor what you read. Funny, they do not realize liberals will never become conservatives because of “controlling the citizenry” actions like this censorship effort.

    Everyone should go read this article. It is quite interesting.

    • JamesJoyce says:

      No doubt the influence of corporations seeking to “condition minds!” Pavlov’s dog and spinning of lies and twisting of minds, into profit?

      “Black eye for a Tarrington?” or “Walk a mile for a Camel?”

      It really “does get old” as one gets older! Brainwashed minds suck…..

  10. BoxTurtle says:

    The D-I’s still haven’t filed their appeal. I can’t wait to read that.

    Boxturtle (I suspect there’s a procedural issue, as federal courts don’t accept filings written in crayon)