1. Secret Rules Make It
Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on
2. Major Political News Outlets Offer Interviews for Sale
at DNC and RNC Conventions
Life of the Parties: The Influence of Influence in
4. Journalistic Standards at the Guardian
This is a Nederlog of Saturday, July 2, 2016.
is a crisis log. It so happens (I didn't know until I surveyed my
selections) that this item is all about journalism and "journalism",
where the latter is its pretense and the former the real thing (that is
rapidly getting rarer and rarer): Item 1 is about journalism: how the
FBI controls journalists, in secret, on the basis of secret rules, and
secret court orders that forbid mentioning anything whatsoever; item 2
is about "journalism": how the "journalists" now assure themselves rich
payments by selling themselves to the rich CEOs (this is now "routine"
and is correctly described as "an invitation to corruption"); item 3 is
about a specific journal, "Influence", that has wholly new
profit- oriented "neoliberal" standards, and shows "the constantly unfolding tale of power-for-hire, told
always with a discreet sympathy for the man on top";
and item 4 is about the (massive) corruptions of The Guardian, that now
requests money from its readers to support their branch of Blairite
Rules Make It Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists
first item today is by Cora Currier on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
In other words: A government's agency, the
FBI, has the power to follow journalists in secret and to see whom they
call, all without needing to have
Secret FBI rules allow agents to obtain
journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal
officials — far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures.
rules, obtained by The Intercept and dating
from 2013, govern the FBI’s use of national security letters,
which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’
calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization
being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily
Media advocates said the documents show
that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the
requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants
before accessing journalists’ information.
permission of any judge, and without informing the news organization
are targeting in secret.
Also, when the journalists do not please the government, they are
easy to target for the FBI (in secret, on the basis of mostly secret
“These supposed rules are
incredibly weak and almost nonexistent — as long as they have that
second signoff they’re basically good to go,” said Trevor Timm,
executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which has sued
the Justice Department for the release of these rules. “The FBI is
entirely able to go after journalists and with only one extra hoop they
have to jump through.”
So in effect the government determines which
journalists are targeted; the government decided the rules, mostly in
secret; and the government also can silence any journalist from saying
anything by serving him or her a national security letter (secret),
that forbids him or her to say anything whatsoever.
This is completely the opposite of what "a free press"
was supposed to be.
Here is where it stands on the moment (and "NSLs" = "National Security
Letters", which forbid anyone publishing anything about them or about
It’s unclear how often the FBI has used
NSLs to get journalists’ records. Barton Gellman, of the Washington
Post, has said
that he was told his phone records had been obtained via an NSL.
The FBI could also potentially demand
journalists’ information through an application to the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA court), which, like NSLs,
would also not be covered by the Justice Department policy. The rules
for that process are still obscure. The emails about revisions to the
FBI guidelines reference
a “FISA portion,” but most of the discussion is redacted.
For the NSLs are secret and forbid anyone
receiving them to say anything (much like it used to be in the Soviet
Union: "Of course you can talk. Only if you do, our friends in the Lubyanka will want to talk with you."). The alternative to NSLs to get a journalist's materials is by
way of the FISA court, which is also secret.
So in fact journalism has been reduced to
its being allowed by a government agency, that works on the basis of
secret court orders that ban the journalist from saying anything or on
the basis of secret FISA rules, and both of these completely circumvert any involvement of the Justice Department.
In brief, journalism within the USA has
been tamed by the government that it should have the freedom to inform
2. Major Political News Outlets Offer Interviews for Sale
at DNC and RNC Conventions
The second item is by Lee Fang on The Intercept:
starts as follows, and shows how "journalism" these days (as contrasted
with journalism) takes care of getting rich themselves, by "reporting"
(as contrasted with reporting) for enormous payments, while flattering
For high-rolling special interests
looking to make an impression at the presidential conventions next
month, one option is to pay a lot of money to a media outlet. Lobbyists
for the oil industry, for instance, are picking up the tab for leading
Beltway publications to host energy policy discussions at the
convention, including The Atlantic and Politico.
And for the right price, some political
media outlets are even offering special interviews with editorial
staffers and promotional coverage at the convention.
Here is how "The Hill" "newspaper" (as
contrasted with newspapers) takes care itself and its "journalists" get
rich by propaganda:
The Hill newspaper, which
is sponsoring events at both the RNC and DNC, offers sponsors “a
turnkey and custom experience,” including a “Thought-Leader Luncheon”
moderated by The Hill’s editorial staff and the luncheon
sponsor, who also gets to “curate a list of participants from politics,
government, media and industry.”
Sponsors who pay $200,000 are promised
convention interviews with The Hill’s editorial staff for
“up to three named executives or organization representatives of your
choice,” according to a brochure obtained by The Intercept.
Those who paid a mere $200,000 (to sit at
the same table as "participants from politics,
government, media and industry") got six events,
each of which
they could have gotten to separately for a mere $50,000.
Then there is The Economist, these days also a "newspaper" with
"journalists" rather than a newspaper with journalists:
The Economist, along with its
subsidiary CQ Roll Call, similarly offers convention sponsorship packages.
Sponsors can share lunches or dinners “with top policy experts from CQ
Roll Call and The Economist” that are livestreamed “so
your reach extends beyond the room.” According to the website advertising the packages, sponsoring a
meal is also good for “getting your CEO publicity — we’ll film an
interview segment after event concludes.” The Economist/CQ Roll
Call did not respond to our inquiries.
The last link is well worth viewing: It
looks like an extended advertisement campaign by expensive whores who
once were journalists, but now get rich
by catering to the powerful.
Now I am neither a journalist nor a
professor of journalism, but that is how it strikes me. Here is a
professor of journalism describing the practice of these "journalists"
(as contrasted with journalists, which seems these days a rare species driven to rapid extinction):
“My impression is that paying for
journalistically greased access to bigwigs is now routine,” says Todd
Gitlin, a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University.
“Journalists should be covering conventions. Selling access to their
leadership strikes me as an invitation to corruption.”
Yes indeed, though that is the polite
form. Clearly it is an invitation to corruption, that is also meant to
be understood as an invitation to corruption,
except that it doesn't like to see this being said in public.
Is there more? Yes, there is:
In fact, I kicked out the Dutch paper
NRC-Handelsblad in 2010, after having read it for 40 years, precisely
because they printed far too many of these "advertorial" pieces,
although I do not know they did it then for payment: They also may have
been showing of what they would do for payment (for they were in
financial difficulties then).
Many media outlets have embraced native advertising, an industry term for
advertisements that looks like editorial content, except for a small
disclosure to identify the content as sponsored. In 2013, The
Atlantic briefly hosted an “advertorial” from the Church of
Scientology that promoted controversial leader David Miscavige.
In any case, this is the new "journalism" (which is the opposite of
Eager to be the intermediates between rich CEOs and powerful
politicians, for a mere payment of $50,000 to $200,000; replete with
unidentified adversorial articles (many of which seem to have the
double falsification of also being introduced as amusements for the
readers); and utterly lacking in truth, in honesty, in decency, or in
accuracy, they still make a lot of money, by acting
as eagerly willing expensive whores to whoever pays them enough.
3. The Life of the Parties: The
Influence of Influence in Washington
The third item is by Thomas Frank on Truthdig and originally on
This starts as follows, and is about a
specific journal, or at least: a daily e-mail newsletter, that is
published by Politico:
Although it’s difficult to remember
those days eight years ago when Democrats seemed to represent something
idealistic and hopeful and brave, let’s take a moment and try to recall
the stand Barack Obama once took against lobbyists. Those were the days
when the nation was learning that George W. Bush’s Washington was,
essentially, just a big playground for those lobbyists and that every
government operation had been opened to the power of money. Righteous
disgust filled the air. “Special interests” were much denounced. And a
certain inspiring senator from Illinois promised
that, should he be elected president, his administration would contain
no lobbyists at all. The revolving door between government and K
Street, he assured us, would turn no more.
Instead, the nation got a lesson in all
the other ways that “special interests” can get what they want—like
simple class solidarity
between the Ivy Leaguers who advise the president and the Ivy Leaguers
who sell derivative securities to unsuspecting foreigners. As that
inspiring young president filled his administration with Wall Street
personnel, we learned that the revolving door still works, even if the
people passing through it aren’t registered lobbyists.
In fact, this is about the dishonesties of
Obama, who has at least three levels of fundamental dishonesties and
deceptions: (1) he projected himself as an honest, progressive liberal
democrat, who (2) made many progressive liberal promises, which (3) all were completely forgotten as soon as he got
But this is about Influence (that also named itself well):
But whatever became of lobbying itself,
which once seemed to exemplify everything wrong with Washington, D.C.?
Perhaps it won’t surprise you to learn that lobbying remains one of the
nation’s persistently prosperous industries, and that, since 2011, it
has been the focus of Influence, one of the daily email
newsletters published by Politico, that great chronicler of
the Obama years. Influence was to be, as its very first
“the must-read crib sheet for Washington’s influence class,” with news
of developments on K Street done up in tones of sycophantic
smugness. For my money, it is one of the quintessential journalistic
artifacts of our time: the constantly unfolding tale of power-for-hire,
told always with a discreet sympathy for the man on
Yes indeed, except that I would call this
an evident case of "journalism", which is related to journalism much
like being en expensive whore is related to romantic love: As a
complete inversion, falsification and corruption.
But that is not - of course - how it seems
to the "journalists" of Influence. On the contrary, for they make a lot
of money (it seems):
Yes, indeed. And they participate - proudly,
happily, well-fed, well paid - as the eagerly willing expensive whores
they have transformed themselves into, so that they as well can eat
very well from bits thrown to them by the rich, whose contacts they
massage, for profit.
But what most impresses the regular
reader of Influence is the brazenness of it all. To say that
the people described here appear to feel no shame in the
contracting-out of the democratic process is to miss the point. Their
doings are a matter of pride, with all the important names gathering at
some overpriced eatery to toast one another and get their picture taken
and advance some initiative that will always, of course, turn out to be
good for money and terrible for everyone else.
This is not an industry, Influence’s
upbeat and name-dropping style suggests. It is a community—a community
of corruption, perhaps, but a community nevertheless: happy,
prosperous, and joyously oblivious to the plight of the country once
known as the land of the middle class
And this is the new "journalism".
4. Journalistic Standards at the Guardian
The fourth and last item today is by Craig Murray (<- Wikipedia) on
This starts as follows (and has a
similar reaction I had when I read a similar message):
Yesterday I received a begging
letter from Katharine Viner of the Guardian
This is followed by a letter in pdf-format
that is very difficult to copy, so I quote some from it by typing it:
First, I did not delete anything here. This
is an exact copy of the letter Mrs. Viner sent to "Guardian Members"
(which I am not), except that what I printed bold seem to be links.
The last few days have been seismic and
historic for Britain, the greatest political crisis since the second
world war with reverberations felt around the world. We've been working
non-stop to try to make sure that the journalism
you find in the Guardian and the Observer
properly reflects these extraordinary and complicated times.
Whichever side of the Brexit debate you
were on, we are entering a period of great political and economic
uncertainty, and the Guardian's role in producing fast, well-sourced,
calm, accessible, and intelligent journalism is more important than
Which is why I want to ask you, our
readers, to help fund that journalism so we can continue interrogating
exactly what has happened, and why, and what needs to happen next.
Support us with a monthly contribution
Support us with a one-off payment: UK, United States or
Second, logically speaking, this makes the following point:
If "our readers" do not contribute extra money to the
Guardian to produce what Mrs Viner feels is "fast,
well-sourced, calm, accessible, and intelligent journalism", then the Guardian will stop doing "fast, well-sourced, calm, accessible, and intelligent
journalism" (in "these
extraordinary and complicated times"). Perhaps
they are ready to follow The Hill, The Economist, or
the Influence (see above) to go into really well-paying
Third, one of the things Craig Murray does not mention is that
the previous chief editor, Alan Rusbridger
(<-Wikipedia) seems to have stopped all contacts with The Guardian,
after stepping down as the next chair of the Scott Trust (which is the
financial security of The Guardian), in part because Mrs. Viner doesn't
want him there. (He will be - instead? - the next principal of Lady
Margaret Hall, which belongs to the Oxford University.)
Here is more Craig Murray:
Perhaps they will be able to induce
individuals to give £10 a month, £120 will buy Polly Toynbee one lunch
at the Ivy. But apart from the ethics of asking ordinary people to fund
some of the most overpaid people in the country, there are questions
about the claims which Viner makes. She talks of Guardian journalism as
“well-sourced”, “calm”, “intelligent”, “in-depth”, “thoughtful” and
Now I put each of those in inverted
commas, to indicate they are words which Ms Viner actually used in the
full email. (The image is an extract).
I dislike Polly Toynbee, who seems to be
the English equivalent of similar rich frauds in the Dutch "social
democrat" party (that's really liberal and "Third Way" and caters to
Also, since seeing their completely Blairite
responses to Jeremy Corbyn; since they include at least half of their
everything about their readers; and since they made even copying from
the Guardian's website quite impossible, I know what they are and want
to be: "journalists" for Tony Blair, much rather than journalists for
the truth. (All I want to know is when the Guardian must be paid to be
accessed. Perhaps after this campaign to get extra support from
the readers failed?)
Here is Murray on the qualities of the
present Guardian - and Hinshliff is a journalist of the Guardian who
either is extremely lazy or else lied:
Yes, which I found out mostly when they wrote
about Jeremy Corbyn, whom nearly all seem to hate passionately because
he is not a Blairite like them- selves.
What is beyond any possible dispute is
that Hinshliff has demonstrated that Viner’s claim that the Guardian
produces responsible, properly researched and ethical journalism is
another plain lie.
The difficulty is that the Guardian has
columnists who are so blinded by their own prejudices and hatreds as to
be incapable of rational analysis.
And while I don't much mind what one's political attitudes are as long
writes about politics in an honest way and respects the facts, I do
one's political attitudes are when these get strongly reflected both in
the positions one takes and the facts one acknowledges, and this was
the case with the Guardian.
In fact, I stopped reading all columnists other than Owen Jones: I do not
want to be systematically deceived by conmen and conwomen.
Here is Craig Murray's conclusion:
But the notion you can completely
ignore or dismiss an argument by an insulting ad hominem again reflects
the very opposite to the standards Viner claims that the Guardian
I agree. It is a corrupt shame that the present editor of the Guardian tries to get extra money from ordinary readers to do their ordinary work, also with the explicit implication they will stop doing their ordinary work if they do not get extra money.
I do hope none of you gave them any
 I do insist on
the "logically speaking":
I gave the whole argument, precisely as it appears; the
argument is in the form of three paragraphs, A, B and C, with A and B
being the premisses ("Which is why I want to ask you, dear readers" and
C the conclusion ("to help fund that journalism"). I know natural
language is not quite the same as formal logic, but this is
how it gets presented, which therefore also is the reason why I think I
am totally justified in asserting that the equivalent form
is "if not C, then not A or not B", that is, if the "dear readers" do not
give enough extra money to help the Guardian do journalism, the
Guardian will stop doing it.
I am not saying they said so. I am saying they said the