The latest sad example of the demise of a once-great American newspaper.
First, a video report from RT:
New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti allegedly forwarded an advance copy of a column penned by colleague Maureen Dowd to a CIA spokesperson. The piece was about the film “Zero Dark Thirty” which is about the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Dowd’s column criticized the White House for giving Hollywood inside information while leaving the public in the dark about the operation – this all coming to light thanks to documents disclosed by the transparency group Judicial Watch. Jeff Cohen, media critic and journalism professor at Ithaca College, joins RT’s Liz Wahl to talk more about subjective journalism.
But there’s no “allegedly” involved, as Glenn Greenwald notes in The Guardian, where he reproduces the actual emails:
The CIA had evidently heard that Maureen Dowd was planning to write a column on the CIA’s role in pumping the film-makers with information about the Bin Laden raid in order to boost Obama’s re-election chances, and was apparently worried about how Dowd’s column would reflect on them. On 5 August 2011 (a Friday night), Harf wrote an email to Mazzetti with the subject line: “Any word??”, suggesting, obviously, that she and Mazzetti had already discussed Dowd’s impending column and she was expecting an update from the NYT reporter.
A mere two minutes after the CIA spokeswoman sent this Friday night inquiry, Mazzetti responded. He promised her that he was “going to see a version before it gets filed”, and assured her that there was likely nothing to worry about:
“My sense is there a very brief mention at bottom of column about CIA ceremony, but that [screenwriter Mark] Boal also got high level access at Pentagon.”
She then replied with this instruction to Mazzetti: “keep me posted”, adding that she “really appreciate[d] it”.
Moments later, Mazzetti forwarded the draft of Dowd’s unpublished column to the CIA spokeswoman (it was published the following night online by the Times, and two days later in the print edition). At the top of that email, Mazzetti wrote: “this didn’t come from me … and please delete after you read.” He then proudly told her that his assurances turned out to be true:
“See, nothing to worry about.”
As Greenwald notes:
Here we have a New York Times reporter who covers the CIA colluding with its spokesperson to plan for the fallout from the reporting by his own newspaper (“nothing to worry about”). Beyond this, that a New York Times journalist – ostensibly devoted to bringing transparency to government institutions – is pleading with the CIA spokesperson, of all people, to conceal his actions and to delete the evidence of collusion is so richly symbolic.
We shouldn’t be surprised. The Times sunk into into present slough of despond starting with Judith Miller, the reporter who did so much to boost the Bush administration’s case for invading Iran with all those stories about nonp-existent stocks of uranium.
The Times, as with all American newspapers, has been devastated by the Internet economy, downsizing its newsroom a reducing overseas bureaus — nad in the process becoming all too reliant on the goodwill of governments.
This latest scandal is merely symptomatic of the decline of American journalism.
Here in California, we’ve seen wave after wave of municipal government corruption, greatly facilitated by the devastation of the state’s newspapers, which once played a vigilant watchdog role in policing the actions of governments and elected officials.
Three of the five newspapers we worked for in the Golden State are gone, the cities they covered no longer regularly covered by full-time experienced journalists and the financial resources needed to support their work. That, in turn, creates an environment where corruption can thrive.
That the New York Times has fallen so low is a tragedy; one we mourn. But we save our tears for the thousands of communities left with either no newspapers or with decaying husks of once thriving institutions.
We’d say we expect more scandals, but who’s left to expose them?