Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Who do you trust?

I have never trusted any government to tell me the whole truth. All my life they've lied to me. Sadly, outside of handful of responsible journalists and bloggers, now that click bait journalism has become the accepted business model, I don't trust the media to tell me the whole truth either.

I do trust Charlie Pierce. I don't always agree with him entirely, but I always listen to what he has to say because he's honest, he's smarter than me and his institutional knowledge is deep. I completely agree with him about the NSA:
...(There is simply no logical reason to take anything the NSA says on this topic in good faith.)

I would like to believe that this is not simply another salvo in the ever-escalating Toobin-Greenwald pissing contest. The issues are simply too important to get buried under a mudslide of personal pique, even though they're half-interred in that already. But, Green Room hooleys aside, Toobin here fundamentally is telling us, again, that they are all honorable men. I don't care what you think of Glenn Greenwald or Edward Snowden. In this democracy, "trust us" is not half good enough any more.
So then the question becomes, what's a concerned citizen to do? Where do we get the facts? Are we seriously supposed to trust a media that rushes to print every wild rumor, (often from an unnamed source), they can dig up in their frenzy for a ten minute exclusive on the internets? The media standard for publication is no longer are we sure this is true, it's now if it's at all plausible -- run with it and maybe make corrections later.

Take the instant matter of Greenwald's spouse and his troubling detention at Heathrow. The Guardian rushes the story to print, inciting instant mass hysteria about innocent spouses of journalists being detained for no reason. But they omitted a couple of pertinent facts. Within hours the NYT tells us Mr. Miranda was acting as a courier for secret documents between Glenn and Lynn Poitras and his trip was financed by The Guardian. Only then did The Guardian amend its story and I'm told they didn't bother to note anywhere it had been amended. So most people who read their story in the hours before that wouldn't be aware of those salient facts. This does not make for an informed public or a reasonable debate.

Meanwhile, Atrios posts today that "the lack of noise about the destruction of the hard drives has been a bit unsettling." He's referring to the Guardian's story about the UK government destroying their hard drives. Well, at least that's what the first story implied. The second story today tells us they actually destroyed the drives themselves, voluntarily, under the watchful eye of a couple of agents, rather than force the government to get a court order. Which doesn't really make sense to me on any level. But the really weird thing is this happened a month ago. Have to wonder why are they just printing it now?

It's not like this is an isolated instance and it's not confined to The Guardian. Every major story in the last few years has played out the same way. The first 48 hours (or longer) are complete chaos with conflicting reports. Anything incendiary enough to drive traffic gets posted immediately. The subsequent mitigating information is downplayed or sometimes ignored. It takes an enormous amount of effort to glean the complete story from numerous news orgs. Frankly, I'm tired of it. In fact, I'm just plain tired of the hysteria, of the in-fighting, of being told what I'm supposed to feel and do. So sorry if it makes me a bad liberal that I just watch and wait from the sidelines instead of immediately jumping into the melee but I just don't the see the point of adding to the noise.

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