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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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The Obsequiousness of the Mainstream Press


Glenn Greenwald has done great work detailing how subservient and submissive the mainstream press is with respect to the U.S. government. Here’s his latest article on the subject: http://tinyurl.com/2dypdly.

In fact, reporters in the mainstream press might well be described as the classic success story of public (i.e., government) schools: the good, little citizen who never challenges federal authority and caters, kowtows, and bows down to federal officials in the hopes of continuing to find favor with them.

What I find fascinating is the extreme reluctance of the mainstream press to delve into matters regarding the CIA. It’s almost as if there is a mainstream press code of conduct that prohibits mainstream reporters from aggressively delving into matters relating to the CIA.

For example, consider the case of Maher Arar. He’s the Canadian citizen who the CIA kidnapped on American soil and renditioned to Syria for the purpose of torturing him.

Let me repeat the name of that country: Syria.

Why is that significant? Because for years, the U.S. government has designated the Syrian government to be a terrorist regime.

Consider this article about the relationship between Syria and the United States that appeared just yesterday in the New York Times. It points out that Syria is “a country with which the United States has long had icy relations” and that “Syria is still classified by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism and is subject to sanctions.”

In fact, throughout the George W. Bush administration, Bush repeatedly emphasized that his administration would not talk to Syria because the Syrian government was a U.S.-designated state sponsor of terrorism.

Okay, fair enough. But an obvious question arises, one that the mainstream press, especially the White House press corps, has never deigned to ask of U.S. officials, from the president on down: Given your claim that you don’t talk to Syria because it is a state sponsor of terrorism, how did you arrange the torture deal for Mahar Arar without talking to Syria?

Wouldn’t you think that any reporter worth his salt would be curious about how such a deal was struck? How were the rendition and torture negotiations carried out? Who were the negotiators? Were the presidents of the United States and Syria involved in the negotiations? Did they sign off on the final deal? Was the agreement put into writing? What were the terms of the rendition and torture contract? Would U.S. officials be permitted to watch or participate in the torture? Did they do so? How was Arar’s transfer to be effected under the agreement?

As far as I know, not one single mainstream reporter asked about any of this. Questions like that might cause them to lose White House privileges or invitations to political parties or even earn them the silent treatment from federal politicians and bureaucrats.

A few years ago, it was disclosed that the federal Department of Education funneled $241,000 into the pockets of commentator Armstrong Williams to help promote the No Child Left Behind Law.

Sometimes I wonder whether the same arrangement has been made with other mainstream reporters. Maybe newspapers should require their employees to sign an annual affidavit stating that they are not on the federal dole. At least that would help show that the obsequiousness of mainstream reporters toward federal officials isn’t owing to the fact that they’re on the receiving end of federal monies.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.