North Korea/Sony Story Shows How Eagerly U.S. Media Still Regurgitate Government Claims

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North Korea/Sony Story Shows How Eagerly U.S. Media Still Regurgitate Government Claims

'Time and again,' argues Greenwald, 'many journalists mindlessly regurgitated the U.S. Government’s accusation against North Korea without a shred of doubt, blindly assuming it to be true, and then discussing, often demanding, strong retaliation.' (Photo: Shutterstock)

The identity of the Sony hackers is still unknown. President Obama, in a December 19 press conference, announced: “We can confirm that North Korea engaged in this attack.” He then vowed: “We will respond. . . . We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States.”

The U.S. Government’s campaign to blame North Korea actually began two days earlier, when The New York Timesas usualcorruptly granted anonymity to “senior administration officials” to disseminate their inflammatory claims with no accountability. These hidden “American officials” used the Paper of Record to announce that they “have concluded that North Korea was ‘centrally involved’ in the hacking of Sony Pictures computers.” With virtually no skepticism about the official accusation, reporters David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth deemed the incident a “cyberterrorism attack” and devoted the bulk of the article to examining the retaliatory actions the government could take against the North Koreans.

The same day, The Washington Post granted anonymity to officials in order to print this:

Other than noting in passing, deep down in the story, that North Korea denied responsibility, not a shred of skepticism was included by Post reporters Drew Harwell and Ellen Nakashima. Like the NYT, the Post devoted most of its discussion to the “retaliation” available to the U.S.

The NYT and Post engaged in this stenography in the face of numerous security experts loudly noting how sparse and unconvincing was the available evidence against North Korea. Kim Zetter in Wired - literally moments before the NYT laundered the accusation via anonymous officials - proclaimed the evidence of North Korea’s involvement “flimsy.” About the U.S. government’s accusation in the NYT, she wisely wrote: “they have provided no evidence to support this and without knowing even what agency the officials belong to, it’s difficult to know what to make of the claim. And we should point out that intelligence agencies and government officials have jumped to hasty conclusions or misled the public in the past because it was politically expedient.”

Read the full article at The Intercept.

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a staff writer and editor at First Look media. His fifth and latest book is, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to his collaboration with Pierre Omidyar, Glenn’s column was featured at Guardian US and Salon.  His previous books include: With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the PowerfulGreat American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican PoliticsA Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, a George Polk Award, and was on The Guardian team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public interest journalism in 2014.

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