Why Won't The Press Admit That CIA Director John Brennan Lied?

from the questions-questions dept

We’ve been writing a bit about CIA director John Brennan and his continuing to misrepresent the truth and outright lie. As you probably know, back in March, Senator Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA had spied on the computer network being used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate the CIA’s torture program. As Feinstein revealed, while the computers had been set up by the CIA (for security reasons), there was a written agreement that everything on them would be considered the Senate’s, and that the CIA was not to look at them. The CIA violated this agreement, after realizing (upon being questioned in a Senate hearing) that the Senate had in its hands a draft of the so-called “Panetta Report” — an internal review of all the documents the CIA had given to the Senate staffers, which more or less confirmed all their findings about the CIA torture program. Apparently, the CIA never intended to turn over that report to the Senate staffers, but did. Rather than realize its mistake, the CIA then snooped on the network and more, including Senate staff emails.

When Feinstein first revealed this, Brennan insisted:

“Let me assure you the CIA was in no way spying on [the committee] or the Senate.”

That was a lie. Soon after, Brennan tried to release his side of the story, which we noted actually appeared to confirm nearly all of the details of Feinstein’s story. And yet, the mainstream press dutifully reported that Brennan had “denied” Feinstein’s claims. He did not. He denied claims she did not make in a such manner as to look like he was denying her actual charges.

After the CIA’s Inspector General Report came out, confirming all of Feinstein’s claims (and much more, including that Brennan’s CIA had further misrepresented the truth in trying to claim that it was the Senate staffers themselves who had broken the law), Brennan sent an apology letter. And yet, he’s spent the last few weeks denying he lied, claims that are completely undermined by the CIA itself.

So here’s the thing: why won’t the press say that Brennan lied?

Dan Froomkin, over at the Intercept, recounts most of this history in what he calls an “anatomy of a non-denial denial,” and then raises the point of why won’t the press actually call out Brennan for lying:

The reason you so infrequently see the word ?lie? in elite media news stories is that the editors generally take the position that even when someone has said something clearly not true, a reporter?s use of the word ?lie? ? rather than, say, ?misspoke? or ?was incorrect? ? requires knowledge of the subject?s intent to deceive. And a fair-minded journalist, they argue, can?t be sure what?s going on in someone else?s head.

But when someone who has so clearly uttered a non-denial denial has to go back and explain how he intentionally responded to an accusation in a very circumscribed or elliptical way, and how that answer was mischaracterized as a denial ? and how he made no attempt to correct the record ? isn?t that prima facie evidence of intent to deceive?

Even though the non-denial denial isn?t in itself strictly speaking a lie, when examined in context, isn?t that exactly what it is?

Froomkin notes, (as we did at the time in part, thanks to his own research) that most of the press just ate up Brennan’s initial denial (which, as we stated, actually confirmed the details, while denying stuff Feinstein did not accuse the CIA of doing). Only a few put in some caveats:

Politico, the New York Times, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal all pretty much cast Brennan?s statements as a blanket denial.

But I was pleasantly surprised by the AP (?He denied that the CIA ?hacked? into the computer network in remarks on Tuesday but did not address the question of a search?) and the Los Angeles Times (he offered carefully worded remarks that did not dispute the actions Feinstein said had taken place, but did deny that they constituted ?spying? on the Senate.?)

But, as he notes, it didn’t matter. Brennan got what he wanted. People thought he denied it, and now he can deny denying it, and pretend he’s been telling the truth all along, when he’s been doing nothing but deceiving pretty much everyone to avoid admitting the truth. That’s called lying. And the press should call it that.

Froomkin dreams of a day when the non-denial denial is no longer an effective tool — and for that to happen, the press will need to actually not fall for tricks like this. And they could start by calling a lie a lie.

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Comments on “Why Won't The Press Admit That CIA Director John Brennan Lied?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Never believe any press. Read between the lines and pay more heed to what is not said and HOW what is said instead of what is actually being said.

The reason that the English language has such popular appeal is because its so messed up it easily allows politicians to speak in such a way that they can mislead others while acting like they never actually lied. Any honest person knows better, but how many honest people are there really?

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Orwell’s essay ‘Politics and the English Language’ should be a must read in high school

This is a bad idea for two reasons:
0. It unfairly would require all high school students to have the ability to read.
1. It would unduly distract students from sports
2. It makes students less useful worker bees for future exploitation by corporate overlords.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Joseph Goebbels said: If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.

So that explains why CNN keeps repeating the same stories over and over and over.
In Wolf Blitzer’s monotone voice grating on and on.

I quit watching a year and some months ago and, strangely, I don’t feel any less informed. The things that did it for me was how they didn’t cover SOPA and how they did cover Snowden.

Peter (profile) says:

It's a good question...

You know, I continue to believe (although the evidence is against me at this point) that the MSM is TRYING to do it’s job as well as it can. But then this obvious lie (which Froomkin has done a good job of exposing as a blatant lie) as well as a mountain of others, goes completely unreported. It boggles my mind — I almost cannot get my head around it. It almost seems like the MSM, all of them, are purposely lying at this point.

Anonymous Coward says:

We had Bush Jr. and members of congress start multiple wars built on lies about weapons of mass destruction. The international community still brings this up all the time.

Our nation is run by liars and deceivers, just like every other country is. Once you accept this fact, it’s easier to see through all the lies and misleading statements.

Anonymous Coward says:

turf wars

Is this consistent with the “turf war” conspiracy theory among intelligence agencies?

There were theories that the Snowden Affair was a CIA Operation, done in retaliation for the fall of former CIA director, Petraeus.

google: petraeus + NSA

There was a curious media campaign against the NSA and for Snowden.

There was a curious lack of comments, about the Snowden Affair and the NSA, coming from the new CIA director, Brennan.

Certain newspapers were alleged to be propaganda arms for certain intelligence agencies.

google: CIA NSA Snowden turf war newspapers

Now there is a curious media campaign for Brennan.

Go figure.

Anonymous Coward says:

The public should take any circuitous statement by a politician as an admission of wrongdoing.

They´re going to whine about being held to such a (or any) standard. But their job is still representing us and that gives us the power to set that standard. Our opinion of them is one of the few ways that we have left of achieving some form of achieving some form of accountability.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

So we've given up on teaching our children the value of honesty, yes?

When I was in school, honesty was regarded as a personal value. As a child and primary school student in the United States I was encouraged to tell the truth, and my classmates and I were advised that we should do so if we were personally to suffer for it, as that level of personal integrity was valued throughout the land. Honest Abe Lincoln, who would return the difference when he was overpaid in gratuity, was set as an ideal that our nation would follow.

And as a naive kid, I believed my adult instructors.

We don’t teach kids that bullshit anymore, right? If you would suffer grief from the truth of a matter being revealed, you don’t do like Lincoln, but like Bush or Obama or Brennan or Clapper and you lie your ass off until there is a clear and convincing evidence you were wrong. And then you claim misperception or a misunderstanding of the verbiage. Personal integrity is not about truth and honor but how well your posterior can emerge from a liability suit.

That’s what they’re teaching in schools now, yes?

GEMont says:

Re: So we've given up on teaching our children the value of honesty, yes?

It might pay to note that many TV commercials now treat lying as an everyday thing done by everyone for no particular reason at all.

Try watching a good movie (guaranteed to have maximum number of bad commercials) and counting the number of commercials that actually promote deception as a part of every day life.

In fact, you might notice that most movies now have no good guy, or have a Good Bad-guy – a bad-guy who is actually just a misunderstood good guy who always just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The “heroes” of most new films now use torture and murder and deception and coercion to “win” the day.

Integrity is being taught to be an obsolete concept.

Anonymous Coward says:

You have come to one of the main points why people are seeking their news from other sources rather than the MSM coming from the most common delivery vehicle of the TV.

The news has become so bias and slanted that I have a hard time just accepting the news at face value without wondering who they are supporting or what axe they wish to grind with this or that article.

The news media here has been cowed by the security branches as well as the moneyed interests. The Obama administration will kick a news group out of the WH Press Corp for making news that casts him in an unfavorable light. Or look at James Rosen and what’s happened to him as a certified journalist. While Rosen is standing for the integrity of a reporter being able to protect his sources, dang few others are willing to do the same.

That they won’t call a spade a spade is no longer a surprise. It’s expected. So it comes out you can’t trust the local news and media so why bother with giving them viewer time and ear time?

Anonymous Coward says:

This extremely evident in light of the current pres' constant lies

The press not covering government leaders lies is old news, pardon the pun. Just look at all the lies that the current President tells and the lamestream media lets him get away with it. Not only that, they help him. Usually he is caught within days but the media still softballs the issue rather than calling him out on it.

Padpaw (profile) says:

If I recall someone looked into who owned the major news corporations in America and discovered everything is owned by about 6 people.

What are the odds the news corporations are being paid off to report what the government tells them to report. Until of course it affects their rights, then they suddenly start caring about losing their rights. Never the rights of others it seems like.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s 6 corporations, not people. They own 90% of all news outlets (including most small local radio and newspapers). They are: Comcast, News Corp., Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS.

“What are the odds the news corporations are being paid off to report what the government tells them to report”

It’s a certainty. They’re paid off in terms of favorable treatment when getting government contracts and licenses, mergers, and access to high level government people and functions.

GEMont (profile) says:

TV is a social engineering tool.

NEWS – Noise Expressed With Sincerity

I have a very simple rule about TV:

If its on TV, its not entirely true and may indeed be entirely false.

If it is mostly or partly true, its because someone wants the true parts disseminated widely to support some other associated information that is false.

All commercial claims should be considered entirely false.

This is based on the ruling during the FOX TV case concerning reporting of truth about Genetically Modified Foods, where FOX won the case against the reporters when the judge stated that TV has no mandate requiring honesty and thus, there was no law against telling lies on TV.

Where there is no consequence for lying, there is no need for truth, unless a modicum of truth suits the broadcaster’s need at the moment.

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