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Catastrophic Success

As if there weren't enough political opinionating out there, I, too, now sing the body bloglectric. Let me FEED you![XML]

Location: United States

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Drudge reports that ABC has passed a tape to the CIA and FBI for verification of authenticity before broadcasting it. The hour-long video they received in Pakistan reportedly shows an American-born man in a face-concealing headdress warning the US of an impending attack that would dwarf the attacks of September 11th. Apparently we brought it on ourselves by ... I don't know ... breathing, maybe?

That's cool with me. I much prefer that ABC vet its story sources before broadcasting them and breathlessly causing a panic, unlike, say, CBS for example. However, what struck me was this:
Sharing information like this with the government carries risks for a news organization, said media analyst Andrew Tyndall.

"If...as a result of sending this tape to the government, the CIA tipped off the Pakistani internal intelligence service, and they rounded this guy up, (ABC's) news-gathering ability would be compromised because you'd be perceived by the people on the streets of Karachi as being a front organization for the CIA."

I'm glad there are wiser heads at ABC (certain Political News Director memos notwithstanding).

I guess I can understand where Tyndall is coming from. Journalists' coin is trust. They need the trust of their sources and the trust of their consumers (viewers, readers, listeners, etc.) in order to do their job. If their sources believe that they are liable to be arrested if they say X to this journalist, they'll simply stop giving all the juicy data to that journalist. That is a fine and workable model in the world of corporate whistleblowers. It is in the best interest of the whistleblower for the journalist not to reveal him as the source so as to avoid retributory tactics from his employer, and it benefits the journalist because other whistleblowers are more likely to trust that journalist not to betray him.

However, when it comes to people who have sworn to kill me, my family and everything I hold dear, I have a very difficult time accepting that argument as a reason not to report such information to the very people who are trying to prevent that from happening (i.e., our government or the freedom-loving governments of Britain, Australia or anybody else with James Bond-like espionage capabilities). The fact that your face is reporting the 6:00 news is not going to engender love and affection for you in the Hamas splodydope's heart. You're gonna blow up too!
There is no benefit to a news agency in NOT providing such a strong indicator of a potential attack to those who are best capable of preventing it from happening. I can't find any moral relativity to balance journalism ethics with the loss of life in such an attack if by your failure to provide the government information, you actually facilitate it. As far as I'm concerned, and I think many courts would agree, you are guilty of being an Accessory to Murder. No ideal of Objectivity compares to protect your countrymen in a time of war.

I just want to give big credit to ABC for getting this to the authorities in such a timely fashion. As it is being reported, they only received it in New York Monday afternoon and the FBI and CIA had it by yesterday at the latest. I hope their actions save so many thousands of lives. I salute you ABC, and a grateful nation thanks you.