Monday, July 11, 2011

It Isn't Censorship, It is News "Transparency"

Classic censorship was illustrated by George Orwell in his book 1984.

That is far too crude for the 21st century. Obama's administration "shapes" the news by manipulating what can be seen or heard. Here is an example from a article by Glenn Greenwald in Salon magazine:
I want to make one point more directly. There are, broadly speaking, three categories of political "leaks": (1) ones that reflect well on the U.S. government and its allies (here's the glorious leaked story of how the U.S. got bin Laden); (2) ones that reflect poorly on the U.S. government (U.S. officials are guilty of waste, corruption, illegality); and (3) ones that reflect poorly on foreign governments the U.S. wishes to demonize (Pakistan murdered a journalist). Obama's highly selective war on whistleblowers is design to eliminate category (2) leaks -- that's what it's been aimed at thus far -- leaving only categories (1) and (3), i.e., those that advance the U.S. government's interests and are often "authorized," either legally (by declassifying the information) or informally (with a wink and a nod).

Put another way, the Obama administration is creating a world of journalism where they exclusively control the information that the public learns and, in essence, defining the parameters of a free press in the U.S. The result is that the only "leaks" that will exist are coordinated government disclosures designed to advance government aims and disseminate propaganda (by deceitfully masquerading official government statements as anonymous "leaks"). That's why this behavior matters so much.
I love the fact that Obama campaigned on "transparency". As George Orwell would have pointed out had he lived until today, this is a wonderful example of Orwellian newspeak. Just as 2+2=5 in 1984, transparency means the government "shapes" what news is given to the press. From Huffington Post:
Obama Accepts Transparency Award In Private

President Barack Obama accepted an award for making the government more open and transparent – presented to him behind closed doors with no media coverage or public access allowed.

The discrepancy between the honor and the circumstances under which it was delivered bothered open-government advocates in attendance, they said Thursday. They were even more perturbed when they discovered later that the meeting hadn't even been listed on Obama's public schedule, so there was no way for anyone to know about it.

"To have such a meeting not be transparent is the height of irony. How absurd can that be?" said one participant, Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, which keeps tabs on the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Enjoy that breath of "fresh air" blowing in from the new and improved version of the Unitary Executive so beloved by George Bush.

Here is Glenn Greenwald giving a talk:

From the annotation on this video:
At Socialism 2011 in Chicago on July 3, Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald spoke about civil liberties in the age of Obama. The talk ran just over forty minutes. In this first part, Greenwald discusses how it has become conventional wisdom that Obama has continued many of the Bush Administration policies, which were regarded as policies that shredded the Constitution.

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