EDITOR'S NOTE: Whoever wrote the following press release wins the Euphemistic Bullshit Writing Award for 2008)
(Nov 24, 2008) Wikileaks often receives messages from Western journalists expressing substantial levels of fear.
For instance, many Western news organizations, even when reporting
a document, self-censor links to it (but not other links).
Self-censoring organizations include Time/CNN, the News Statesman,
and the Guardian.
The "4.0" estate is no better, the Wikimedia Foundation, Digg and others have all pulled links after, or before, legal threats.
Journalists working in the most of the developing world, who are
occasionally arrested for hard-hitting stories, find this pusillanimous behavior incomprehensible.
(EDITOR: Pusillanimous? Does that mean oozing pus?)
States with highly disconnected power hierarchies, such as Russia
during the mid 1990s give us a clue to as to the difference in
perceptions between developing and Western journalists.
persecution appear to stem from the same root cause; the inability
of power groups to defend themselves from journalists by using means
more sophisticated than arrest or murder.
Because the latter comes at some cost to the persecutor they are rarely employed. In other words all but a few "off limit" subjects can be reported freely and these limits are not yet well understood, which is why some journalists are murdered.
(EDITOR: You mean like Gary Webb?)
In the West, more sophisticated means are systemic and include
economic and patronage incentives and a defensive restructuring of
power group activities into complex financial webs which are resistant
to press exposure.
(EDITOR: You mean like getting caught on video with a live boy or dead girl in the hotel room?)
While it is easy to count journalistic arrests and murders, great
skepticism should be exercised in representing the lack of such
assaults as marker of a free or effective press. Precisely the
opposite conclusion may be true.
An example letter from a Western journalist:
> While I do not see everything which you send me of value, I do see much of what I've been sent as extremely significant material. I regret to add that I have not opened much of what you have sent me, concern over potential 'legal ramifications' being the reason. In short, I - like too many other journalists - have too often been effectively intimidated into silence.
> In the past I've endured death threats, being shot at, having the steering unscrewed on my car, etc...and yet, I find myself compelled to avoid documentation with a 'controversial' legal standing, regardless of the legitimacy of those documents. While I still break quite significant news, I artificially limit myself to those sources which cannot engender 'legal issues'.
> Am I a coward? I think not, but I am well aware of the tools employed to silence those with the courage to speak, and I cautiously avoid presenting 'the bad guys' with a 'weak point' in the defenses I've built. I am not certain how Wikileaks has avoided the devastation such 'weak points' have brought, but I am glad you have.
> Does the world need the ugly truths that lurk behind the sparklingly clean and gleaming white facades that so often surround them - yes! Without broad public awareness of the harsh realities we face, how can we, as a society, hope to address these issues? Of course, those whom the ongoing ignorance benefits wish to maintain it, and so the need for organizations such as yours.
> What can be done to improve Wikileaks? I imagine that you're working on a great many things; but, perhaps paramount among these is the ongoing establishment of the 'legitimacy' of Wikileaks as a source, a source which can one day be utilized without raising legitimate concern over 'the consequences'.
> When I was a boy growing up in The States, there was a TV game show called 'Truth or Consequences'. Too often today I have seen a reality called 'truth and consequences'. The first was funny, but the second...