Note: This story has been updated with additional information
The following is a news media analysis and commentary
Regardless of who is your chosen – or least favorite – presidential candidate, independent minds should be concerned about the latest revelations in the news media’s unseemly relationships with government and political actors. While there are many responsible journalists working today, inside documents and leaks have exposed serious lapses constituting the most far-reaching scandal our industry has known. It’s our very own Newsgate.
Compromised reporting has always existed as a result of covert collaborations between reporters and political officials—Democrats and Republicans alike. For example, in my new book out next year, The Smear, I’ll report on instances of improper collusion that surfaced during the Bush administration. The most recent available evidence is heavy on Democrat-ties due to the nature of the available documents and leaks.
It can be argued that some individual accounts can be rationalized and are not serious breaches of ethics. But taken as a whole, it’s easy to see how we as journalists have done a poor job protecting ourselves from being co-opted by organized interests, often ones that are paid and politically-motivated. Whether we realize it or not, they’ve figured out how to exploit the media and use us to publish their propaganda. It implies a broad and growing trend that has seriously undermined the credibility of the news industry.
Opinion reporters and those who work for obviously ideological news groups are entitled to publish party propaganda. It’s one matter to provide viewpoint journalism. But it’s quite another for us to act as a tool of any interest, publishing narratives or talking points upon suggestion or demand, without disclosing we’ve done just that.