A ‘Credibility Deficit’ Rocks the White House and the New York Times

August 19th, 2013 - by admin

Jeff Jarvis / The Guardian & Patrick L. Smith / Salon.com – 2013-08-19 00:34:46


The White House Credibility Deficit
The NSA leaks ended the power of Obama officials to ration access. No self-respecting journalist believes what they say

Jeff Jarvis / The Guardian

(August 18, 2013) — According to Britons, Americans are incapable of irony — and our president is certainly proving their point.

In his address about Egypt’s military coup — or whatever bowdlerizing euphemism is permitted this week in Washington — Obama condemned the notion that “security trumps individual freedom.” Really?

After his press conference announcing an oversight commission for the NSA, it emerged that the NSA’s truth-challenged director of national intelligence, James Clapper, would apparently oversee the oversight. The White House had to explain the joke, and then said Clapper would merely facilitate.

And in the latest revelations from Edward Snowden on NSA noncompliance even with its over-broad license to snoop on most anyone, the Washington Post reported that the administration — which supposedly welcomes this discussion and at first permitted a spokesman to defend the administration on the record — tried to withdraw his quotes and replace them with a new statement. The Post wouldn’t go along with this gag and reported the attempt.

The Post was right to refuse to play along and allow the White House to write its spokesman’s quotes after the fact. I was shocked last year when it turned out that the New York Times allowed some sources to “approve quotes” after uttering them, a policy it quickly reversed.

I have been equally shocked to find some European reporters, as a matter of standard procedure, giving me the opportunity to review and alter my own quotes. No, what’s said is said: that is the very definition of “on-the-record”.

That is the punchline of the Snowden affair: when we can’t trust what government tells us, we come to trust those whom government doesn’t trust. Thus, we no longer necessarily care what the official line is and who delivers it. And when that happens, access — the currency of the Beltway — becomes worthless. Ah, the irony.

New York Times: Complicit in the Destruction of Egyptian Democracy
US policy is clear: No democracy for Islamic majorities. Why does the media parrot Obama’s Orwellian double talk?

Patrick L. Smith / Salon.com

(August 18, 2013) — We finish a tragic, fateful week in Egypt. There seems no turning back from its flows of blood and its political reversals, and in the short run this is almost certainly so. There is more to come, as every hour’s news proves.

But either one accepts the triumph of lawlessness and cruelty over justice and humanity — or one expects another turning. It will require more blood, more arrests and jail terms and point-blank shootings and destroyed families, but Egyptians will get there — get beyond the long reigns of dictators, even their new one. Aspiration never quite dies. And America will once again have stood on the wrong side of history, complicit in subverting the very advances it incessantly claims to desire.

Over just a few days we have watched the deliberate sabotaging of the first elected government in Egyptian history. There is now no chance of restoring the government of President Mohamed Morsi: The savagery of the army and police as they act against Morsi’s supporters is intended to destroy any such prospect, and it has.

It is likely we have also witnessed the end of the Arab Spring, the two-year-old movement that brought the promise of representative government to the Middle East. Egypt’s next story will be a new story, and the events of 2011 will take their place as a prelude, a shard of history.

Even as Egypt’s death toll since Wednesday climbs toward a thousand, a larger moment passed this week, it seems to me. America has reached the limit of its capacity to accommodate a new era, one requiring new thinking and new perspectives and lively imaginations. It simply cannot manage it.

Washington’s business through all the Cold War decades was to destroy democracies (democracies that were supposedly not democracies) in favor of dictators (dictators who were supposedly not dictators). The only difference between that time and ours is that one is confident now that the American project will fail if America fails to alter course.

Looking back over the six weeks since the army deposed Morsi, it is stunning to note how transparently Washington acted to support the Egyptian generals. Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security advisor, serves as point person on Egypt’s subversion of democracy, and she does her work in broad daylight, more or less.

It was Rice who called the generals just before the July 3 coup to advise that they could move against Morsi without consequence. It was Rice who then called Morsi’s people to tell them, “You’re over. The generals are coming.”

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