Courtier journalism exposed

One interesting sideshow in the entire NSA-Snowden saga is the light it has shed on the courtier attitude that many members of the establishment media have, who seem to see themselves as an auxiliary arm of the government. We saw this with David Gregory’s questioning of Glenn Greenwald. Now along comes an even more egregious example.

Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times said this today on one of the talk shows.

There is speculation [Snowden’s] planning to fly to Havana en route to Ecuador. The government of Ecuador has confirmed it is considering an asylum application for Snowden. He faces American espionage charges now after he admitted to revealing classified documents. I got to say, this is — I feel like, A, we’ve screwed this up to even let him get to Russia. B, clearly the Chinese hate us to even let him out of the country. That says something. Russia hated us and we knew that beforehand but that’s sort of — and now, I don’t know. And my second piece of this…,I would arrest him and now I’d almost arrest Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who seems to be out there, he wants to help him get to Ecuador. [My emphasis-MS]

It is astounding that any person who claims to be a journalist would say such a thing. Sorkin sounds like a government spokesperson and these words could have emerged from the mouths of any authoritarian like senators Lindsey Graham or Diane Feinstein. The only reason it could not come from Barack Obama or DNI James Clapper or head of the NSA Keith Alexander or press secretary Jay Carney is the “we’ve screwed up” bit because they never acknowledge any mistakes or wrongdoing.

Greenwald blasted Sorkin and the rest of the courtier journalists, pointing out that it was his deliberate decision to be an outsider that resulted in him getting these stories. That is what really bugs these courtier journalists, being bypassed like this.

I’ve purposely made myself an outsider by very aggressively and harshly criticizing not just the culture itself but the most prominent members of it, including David Gregory and Andrew Ross Sorkin, who this morning suggested on CNBC that I be arrested.*

Some of what is driving this hostility from some media figures is personal bitterness. Some of it is resentment over my having been able to break these big stories not despite, but because of, my deliberate breaching of the conventions that rule their world.

But most of it is what I have long criticized them for most: they are far more servants to political power than adversarial watchdogs over it, and what provokes their rage most is not corruption on the part of those in power (they don’t care about that) but rather those who expose that corruption, especially when the ones bringing transparency are outside of, even hostile to, their incestuous media circles.

Later Sorkin tried to ‘walk’ his comments back by actually denying that he said what he clearly said without any explanation or apology, but it is too late. His nakedness, and those of his ilk, is plain to see.


  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    Maybe my memory is failing me, but another glaring example of courtier journalism seems to be the CBS show, 60 minutes. They used to do occasional hard-hitting stories, but now about half of them (or more?) seem to be fawning praise of the military, and the other half are “human interest” stories (quotes because they usually aren’t very interesting, to me).

  2. says

    I would arrest him and now I’d almost arrest Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who seems to be out there, he wants to help him get to Ecuador

    Spoken like a journalist who never expects to break a story more interesting or socially significant than a little league game. Talk about making oneself obviously unnecessary: can we replace him with a blog written by a complete amateur? Someone with nothing to fear and none of the fecal lip-reek of the inveterate ass kisser?

  3. Chiroptera says

    Why do we even have “journalism” here in the US? I’m sure newspaper editors are perfectly capable of printing government PR pieces themselves; passing them through a reporter first seems like an unnecessary step.

  4. sailor1031 says

    Mildly instructive to compare the utter incoherence of faux-journalist Sorkin with the quote from Greenwald, who can actually write. It’s pathetic that someone as incapable of expressing thought, and likely incapable of having any, as Sorkin is actually considered by some to be a ‘journalist’.

  5. psweet says

    To be fair, sailor1031, Sorkin’s quote was from a conversation, rather than being written. Very few people can speak extemporaneously with the eloquence that a decent writer brings to a written piece.

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