Drop Dead America

Hugh Hewitt
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Posted: May 24, 2007 11:10 AM
Drop Dead America

The question is: Is there anything that Brian Ross and ABC News wouldn’t run?

If ABC News and Brian Ross learned that the U.S. had a team of agents close to bin Laden and were scheduled to grab him tomorrow, would they run the information?

If ABC News and Brian Ross learned that the U.S. intended to bomb facilities in Iran dedicated to the production of nuclear weaponry on Tuesday next, would they post the story?

If ABC News and Brian Ross learned that the U.S. had been covertly conducting surveillance on a suspected international terrorist in the U.S. as he contacted his network and laid his plans, would they post the story?

Late on Tuesday, ABCNews.com and Brian Ross posted a story that began:

The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.

Either the story is a pile of garbage or it is the disclosure of a classified and highly sensitive operation, the success of which is fraught with difficulty and peril, the outcome of which could prevent a rogue regime run by religious fanatics from acquiring nukes.

Either way, ABC News and Brian Ross did damage to MSM’s already threadbare reputation. Either they joined Dan Rather and Mary Mapes in the “easily played” category or The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times in the category of self-serving, and clueless or treacherous dangers to the national interest.

We can’t know, and probably never will. But we do know that Brian Ross has become a pipeline willing to carry anything into the MSM. On May 14, The Blotter proclaimed that “[a]s many as five or six U.S. air marshals are now assigned to each U.S.-bound flight from airports in Frankfurt, London and Manchester, England, because of fears terrorists might attempt a coordinated series of mid-air explosions, law enforcement officials tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.” Now, if you were a terrorist planning to blow up a plane, do you suppose you might pick a different flight?

Again, is there anything ABC News and Brian Ross won’t run?

Yesterday Mitt Romney used the platform his presidential campaign gave him to deliver a very useful message, one which every candidate ought to deliver again and again, and not because it is good politics, but because the American media has lost its way and is actively giving aid to the countries enemies via the repeated and indiscriminate publication of national security secrets. The people making these decisions are typically life-time inhabitants of the cloisters called newsrooms. They have zero national security experience –or many experiences of any sort other than MSM culture-- and, truth be told, most of them aren’t particularly bright, and they don’t impress you close up as the sort of people on whose judgment you would rely in a crisis. They have a Pavlovian response to information of any sort, whether a killer’s videotape or the announcement of a super-secret program the disclosure of which helps terrorists elude capture.

The large majority of Americans of all ages disdain the MSMers – and many despise them for their cavalier attitudes about what to brand news and what to push into the public square. The MSM elites are not admired or respected and certainly not trusted. Once they leave their posts they are quickly forgotten and certainly not missed. The contempt in which they are held by the members of the military is almost complete, and the government elites who battle or use them also sneer at their vanity and their easily played reflexes.

They are protected by the First Amendment, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, nor would the vast majority of Americans. But as careless as they are with the safety of America, we ought to at least be clear about our opinions of them and their “craft.”

Here is the text of Romney’s statement:

"First of all, I woke up this morning, and I was shocked to see the ABC News report regarding covert action in Iran. I was not shocked because of the covert action. I was shocked because a news organization with such a renowned reputation as ABC News would deem it appropriate to publish information about a covert action existing, and publish that not only to America but to the entire world. The reporting has the potential of jeopardizing our national security. Stated quite plainly, it has the potential of affecting human life. We may never know.

"As you know, Iran is developing a nuclear bomb. Iran sponsors terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. Iran's President has denied the Holocaust. Its leadership has incited to genocide. Its leadership has suggested the use of nuclear weapons. In fact, the spread of nuclear terror – nuclear proliferation – is certainly the most threatening of all the prospects on the planet today. And Iran is the most noted perpetrator of this nuclear proliferation. And Iran is supplying weapons and expertise that kill American soldiers in Iraq.

"And with all those things in mind and despite those factors, ABC News published classified information that warns Iran and that has the potential of putting Americans at risk. Now no one wants in a country like ours any form of censorship, but the media has a responsibility to police itself. And in the last little while, we've seen two examples of a failure in this responsibility. One by The New York Times with regards to reporting on the electronic eavesdropping on potential terrorists and the other is this report by ABC News. Responsible policing I just don't think happened on their part. Responsible policy-making happened on their part.?

"And I think it's important to recognize that we have a global war on terror which continues. It's a global war against violent jihad. We've seen six years of this. It's not about to disappear anytime soon. With that in mind, I think it's time for leadership in the media to consider and adopt voluntary rules of responsible reporting with regards to matters of national security. Of course, we have a First Amendment which we cherish and value. It provides for freedom of the press but with this freedom goes the responsibility of the press. I'm not looking, as I said, for government censorship. I'm looking for corporate responsibility."