By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media
Years ago I agreed to be interviewed for a film which was included in an exhibit for the national museum in Washington, D.C. known as the Newseum. It was on the use of anonymous sources. In the film, which is still playing, I cautioned about their use, saying that they can be inaccurate or even non-existent, and that they reduce trust in the news media.
Today, the use of anonymous sources has accelerated, and the “sources” being used against President Donald Trump are now openly acknowledged as coming from U.S. intelligence agencies such as the FBI, CIA and NSA.
Not surprisingly, questions about the motives of sources are seldom, if ever, examined by the media that rely on them.
Even when anonymous sources supposedly come forward and identity themselves, there is doubt. The Newseum staged an exhibit on Watergate, the scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon, and focused on Mark Felt, who was second in command of the FBI at the time. The story is that he “broke his silence and ended the decades-long mystery” about the identity of “Deep Throat,” the alleged anonymous source who helped Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
But the late Accuracy in Media (AIM) chairman Reed Irvine and I wrote a series of articles questioning whether he was in fact Deep Throat. At that time, Felt was a stroke victim with dementia and couldn’t deny it. What’s more, Felt was not in a position to supply the information about Watergate that is attributed to Deep Throat in the Woodward/Bernstein book about the scandal.
Our conclusion was that Felt was being used as a cash cow to generate book deals, and that the actual Watergate sources were somewhere else in the bureaucracy, probably the intelligence community.
This wasn’t the only time that Woodward had attributed facts and information to an alleged source who couldn’t speak for himself. In Woodward’s 1987 book, Veil, he claimed to have interviewed William J. Casey, the CIA director, after Mr. Casey had brain surgery and could not speak intelligibly.
The slogan of the Newseum is, “There’s more to every story.” This concept is appropriate when considering the nature and origin of the anonymous sources behind the anti-Trump stories that generate Watergate-style hysteria in the liberal media on almost a daily basis.
Even more important or significant than the stories themselves are the motives of the leakers and why they would go to the Post, a paper whose billionaire owner, Jeff Bezos, is linked to the CIA and NSA through a series of government contracts.
As history unfolds, we learn new information about journalists and their sources, but some of it comes too late to make a real difference.
Consider that there will have to be an update to the section on Ernest Hemingway, the famous writer and author whose work as a reporter for The Kansas City Star is highlighted at the Newseum. A new book by former CIA officer Nicholas Reynolds entitled Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy identifies the Pulitzer Prize-winner as a Soviet spy. Hemingway was recruited into the enemy camp on ideological grounds.
This revelation provides more evidence that things are rarely what they seem to be in the media. There can always be a hidden hand in the work of major personalities in the journalism business. These people depend on their sources. More importantly, they are used by them.
The Post clearly has no principled objection to working with officials of the FBI, CIA, NSA, and other agencies in bringing down a president. After all, they claim that they relied on an FBI official to help bring down Nixon.
Even with the firing of FBI director James Comey, an obvious source for the media, it’s apparent that many of these high-level people remain in the intelligence community. They were not elected, however, and they remain in the shadows, making decisions affecting the fate of a government elected by the American people by creating the appearance of a Watergate-style scandal.
Interestingly, the title of the new Hemingway book is a takeoff on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the 1974 spy novel by British author John le Carré that was made into a blockbuster film, and was based on the real-life “Cambridge Five” communist espionage ring.
It turns out that Hemingway worked for the CIA’s predecessor, the OSS, before going to work for the Russians.
Interestingly, the anonymous sources now being used to destroy Trump, on the grounds that he is a Russian puppet, have used a “Trump Dossier” that is based on the work of a former British spy who worked for Hillary Clinton and pro-Russian interests.
Since this is demonstrably the case as we have noted in a series of investigative stories, it is reasonable to assume that these anonymous sources in the Trump case are working against American interests. Equally significant, if they are in the intelligence community, they are working for, not against, the Russians. It is bizarre but true.
Leaving aside the identity of sources and their motives, the official story of Watergate continues to be that Nixon was forced out of office for corrupt practices. But these had also occurred under other administrations. Victor Lasky’s classic book, It Didn’t Start With Watergate, set the record straight on that score.
We have also noted other scandals that had received far less attention than Watergate, including:
- FDR’s Pearl Harbor cover-up, blaming Admiral Kimmel for the disaster
- The stolen presidential election of 1960 that put John F. Kennedy in the White House
- Attorney General Bobby Kennedy’s bugging of the phones of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Clinton administration abuse of the IRS and FBI to go after “enemies”
Does the latter sound familiar? It sounds like something that occurred under President Obama, but which never achieved Watergate status. Neither did the Benghazi cover-up or his own pro-Russian policies and statements.
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” Trump told graduates of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. “No politician in history—and I say this with great surety—has been treated worse or more unfairly.”
He’s correct, except possibly for the Nixon example. In Trump’s case, it’s true that he offends the media. But he has also offended some powerful people in the intelligence community. Together, they are determined to destroy him.
It may turn out to be the case that Trump’s real crime was failing to clean house in the intelligence community. Did the firing of Comey come too late to make a difference?
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.