Reporter Who Wrote Sunday Times 'Snowden' Propaganda Admits That He's Just Writing What UK Gov't Told Him

from the journalism! dept

So we've already written about the massive problems with the Sunday Times' big report claiming that the Russians and Chinese had "cracked" the encryption on the Snowden files (or possibly just been handed those files by Snowden) and that he had "blood on his hands" even though no one has come to any harm. It also argued that David Miranda was detained after he got documents from Snowden in Moscow, despite the fact that he was neither in Moscow, nor had met Snowden (a claim the article quietly deleted). That same report also claimed that UK intelligence agency MI6 had to remove "agents" from Moscow because of this leak, despite the fact that they're not called "agents" and there's no evidence of any actual risk. So far, the only official response from News Corp. the publisher of The Sunday Times (through a variety of subsidiaries) was to try to censor the criticism of the story with a DMCA takedown request.

Either way, one of the journalists who wrote the story, Tom Harper, gave an interview to CNN which is quite incredible to watch. Harper just keeps repeating that he doesn't know what's actually true, and that he was just saying what the government told him -- more or less admitting that his role here was not as a reporter, but as a propagandist or a stenographer. Here's the key snippet:
If you can't see or hear that, it's Harper saying "we just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government." This is a claim that he repeats throughout the interview, pleading ignorance to anything factual about the story. In short, his argument is that he heard these allegations through a "well placed source" within the UK government and he sought to corroborate the claim... by asking another source in the UK government who said "that's true!" and Harper ran with it.

Some more highlights. CNN's George Howell kicks it off by asking how UK officials could possibly know that the Chinese and Russians got access to the files, and Harper immediately resorts to the "hey, I just write down what they tell me!" defense:
Um... well... I don't know the answer to that, George. Um.... All we know is that... um... this is effectively the official position of the British government. Um.... we picked up on it... um... a while ago. And we've been working on it and trying to stand it up through multiple sources. And when we approached the British government late last week with our evidence, they confirmed, effectively, what you read today in the Sunday Times.
Again: government official tells them stuff, and they confirm with another government official -- and that's the story. Note that he says he showed the UK government "evidence" yet there is no evidence in the article itself. Just quotes and speculation. He goes on, trying to downplay the entire point of journalism, which should be to ferret out the truth. But, to Thomas Harper, if you question his report, you should be asking the government about it, not him. That's not his job.
It's obviously allegation at the moment, from our point of view. And it's really for the British government to defend it.
So, you publish an explosive story based on anonymous quotes and already proven falsehoods, and then you refuse to defend it, saying that it's the government's job to do so? Do you even know what a journalist is supposed to be doing, Harper?

Howell digs deeper, questioning how the UK government even knows which files Snowden took -- and questioning if the UK government has been able to decipher that as well. Harper, again, pushes it aside, saying he has no idea and they avoided such tricky questions altogether:
Again, that's not something we're clear on. So, we don't go into that level of detail in the story.
It's then that he makes the "we just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government" claim. Howell then points to one of the many contradictions in the story: the idea that Russia/China hacked into the Snowden files... and the claim that they were just handed over. And again, Harper pleads ignorance. He's just the stenographer:
Again, sorry to just repeat myself, George, but we don't know, so we haven't written that in the paper. Um... you know, it could be either. It could be another scenario.
I mean, it could be that the great fairyland dragon from the 6th dimension dreamed up the Snowden documents and then gave them to Russia and China. Who the fuck knows? I'm just a reporter, man. Why would you ask me for evidence or facts? I'm just rewriting what some government guys told me!

Howell then points out that his story is just the British government's claims, and then asks about the MI6 "agents" that were supposedly moved, and again, Harper pleads ignorance:
Um.... Again, I'm afraid to disappoint you, we don't know. There was a suggestion, um, that some of them may have been under threat. Um. Er. Um. But... the um... statement from senior Downing Street sources suggests that no one has come to any harm, which is obviously a positive thing from the point of view of the West.
Huh. So now he's the spokesperson for "The West?" Fascinating.

Again, Howell, somewhat nicely, points out that Harper is doing nothing more than stenography: "So, essentially, you're reporting what the government is saying, but as far as the evidence to substantiate it, you're not able to comment or to explain that at this point." And, Harper basically agrees.
No. We... we picked up on the story a while back, from an extremely well placed source in the Home Office, um... and then... um... carried on trying to substantiate what was going on through various sources in various agencies throughout Britain. And then finally presented the um... um... story, to the government, and they effectively confirmed what you read in today's Sunday Times.
In short: one government official told them this, and they asked other government officials, who all had a personal interest in having the answer be "yes" and after enough government officials all agreed on the same talking point, good boy Tom Harper wrote it all down and presented it as fact.

A few times in the interview Harper makes the accurate and reasonable point that when you're dealing with the intelligence community, getting evidence is often quite difficult. That's absolutely true. But then there's a way of presenting that kind of story and it's not the way Harper did so. When you have a story like this, where many of the details seem highly questionable, you don't just talk to government officials, but you try to reach out to other sources who can further the story. But Harper admits that they had no interest in doing this -- they were just presenting the government's side of the story. Even that can be done in a journalistic manner, in which case the article should not present itself as presenting factual information, as it does, but the idle speculation of government officials who won't put their names or positions behind what they're saying.

Harper concludes the interview by saying that it's very difficult to say things with "certainty" when reporting on national intelligence issues -- but if that's the case, why did the Sunday Times report present its findings with exactly that kind of certainty? Wouldn't the reasonable thing to do be to highlight the questionable claims and to detail what was known and what was no actually known? But that's not how Harper and the Sunday Times did it at all. And now he's trying to pass off the blame, saying that it's the UK government who needs to defend the "journalism" that he supposedly did. Given that he's admitting he just scribbled down and republished their thoughts, perhaps that's true concerning defending the facts of the story. However, it does seem quite reasonable to ask Harper to defend what sort of journalism he's actually doing.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 12:49pm

    Slippery Slope

    I suspect that these reporters careers on on a downhill slide, but where is down from here?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Agonistes (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:00pm

    Ubelieveable

    I'm absolutely shocked that a CNN employee asked relevant and coherent questions of a guest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    z! (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Slippery Slope

    Well, in the US it would be National Enquirer or Weekly World News.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:02pm

    We need fewer reporters and more journalists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:05pm

    What??? You mean this is the first time this has occurred or the first time it has struck the noggin that everything in print or in media as news may not be news but might be propaganda?

    Every time I see undisclosed source, it screams to me right then, this is propaganda. Ever since The Smith-Mundt Act was neutered, this is what you can expect news to be. If it is not feel good, not celebrity news, and not personal interest, every news article will contain propaganda if it involves government, political, or civil topics. You can no longer depend on MSM to give you the real picture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:07pm

    Re: Slippery Slope

    They will probably get a job with this news outfit. http://www.sundaysportonline.co.uk/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Baron von Robber, 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re: Slippery Slope

    Or Fox News

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:08pm

    >"We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government"

    At least they're honest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Personanongrata, 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:09pm

    Tom Harper: Verbatim Transcription Services For Hire

    However, it does seem quite reasonable to ask Harper to defend what sort of journalism he's actually doing.

    An anonymous source has just whispered in that the sort of journalism he's actually doing is called:

    Yellow journalism

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Slippery Slope

    The Weekly World News went out of business. I used to love to read it. The fun part was trying to figure out which stories were true and which were not. Who would have believed the story about the 300 lb ovarian cyst. It turned out to be true.

    My favorite was when the Weekly World News outed some Senators as aliens from outer space, and the senator confirmed it. Then the New York Times ran with the story. The next cover page of the WWN was about how the New York Times had picked up one of their stories.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:23pm

    Re:

    If they were honest they would have made that clear in the article.

    Then again, that might have gotten them sued for copyright infringement or plagiarism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Mark Wing, 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:24pm

    He looks like Ramsay Bolton from Game of Thrones...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:29pm

    Re:

    I am surprised that a non-tabloid paper doesn't take the two-side approach and contact Greenwald for a comment before running with anonymous unverifiable slandrous rumours and presenting it as a sensation on the front page.

    It is basically the form of propaganda called character assassination. That is very low.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Wilhelm Arcturus, 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:33pm

    Embarrassed

    Watching that interview was painful as I felt more and more embarrassed for Tom Harper as the whole thing slowly went nowhere.

    It was like watching a kid who had copied their whole report straight from the encyclopedia being asked to show his depth of knowledge on the subject and having his charade become painfully obvious to all present.

    Of course, the fact that Tom Harper looks like he is about 12 years old in the video probably slanted my point of view.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Re: Slippery Slope

    Don't you mean a nudes outfit?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:34pm

    Their strategy to compete with online news:

    Subscribe to the Sunday Times and get a free sock puppet!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:37pm

    ...And this is why print media is dying and the best source for real reporting is a bunch of comedians (Colbert, Stewart, Oliver, etc).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    simality (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:41pm

    Oh dear lord...

     >"we just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government." 

    I'm not even going to try defending this. Even in the United States, even at the poor, demoralized, paper company I work for, shit like this would never fly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:43pm

    I suspect this is going to push the Sunday Times towards the Hearst end of the journalistic integrity spectrum.

    The implication here is that the Sunday Times fully intends to serve as a propaganda mouthpiece for the UK administration, and not an independent news service that does its own fact-checking and investigation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Kaemaril (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 1:49pm

    "Um... well... I don't know the answer to that, George. Um.... All we know is that... um... this is effectively the official position of the British government"

    Oh, really? It's the official position of the British government? You'd think that, if it were the official position, you'd be able to rely on named sources, and not ones who are only willing to provide anything if their anonymity is protected.

    This is incredibly shoddy journalism, and any self-respecting journalist should be hanging their head in shame and promising they'll try to do better next time, not going on international TV and trying to defend the indefensible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Irving, 15 Jun 2015 @ 2:01pm

    I'm pretty sure we all knew this about mainstream media, but it's nice to receive confirmation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    NSA Not So Anonymous, 15 Jun 2015 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Re: Slippery Slope

    NSFW...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    FMHilton, 15 Jun 2015 @ 2:15pm

    Government Mouthpieces

    The Sunday Times (and it's sister, The Times of London) are the 'official' outlet for the government's propaganda.

    It should come as no surprise that a reporter writing about the government there would be so 'inclined' to write about the entire Snowden event in their terms, especially if he was employed by them. He enjoys his paycheck. Whether or not it comes under 'journalism' is a whole 'nother kettle of fish, though.

    Did anyone know that the Times is actually a subsidiary company of a group owned by Rupert Murdoch?

    "The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times (founded in 1821) are published by Times Newspapers, since 1981 a subsidiary of News UK, itself wholly owned by the News Corp group headed by Rupert Murdoch. The Times and The Sunday Times do not share editorial staff, were founded independently and have only had common ownership since 1967."

    Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Times

    That explains all of it. Rupert Murdoch wants to be Prime Minister but he can't because he's not a British citizen..so he does the next best thing: publish a paper kissing their ass and multiplying their lies.

    It's one of the few papers he saved after the scandal about the phone hacking took place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Slippery Slope

    Straight into Parliament?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 2:24pm

    > But... the um... statement from senior Downing Street sources ...

    And here I thought outfits like MI6 and GCHQ had their own addresses. I guess they just don't provide invented stories that are as good as the ones from Downing Street.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 2:27pm

    If so many officials "confirmed" the story, why didn't they just make it official? Otherwise shouldn't all those guys be prosecuted for leaking the information that they KNOW Russia and China found out about their spies?

    There are so many holes in this story it's like the MI6 guys shot it with a machine gun.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Slippery Slope

    Well, they are owned by the same shit - Rupert Murdoch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 2:32pm

    What's that child doing with that deep voice?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. icon
    sorrykb (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 2:43pm

    it's Harper saying "we just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government."

    See... this actually would be OK, as a starting point. There's no inherent problem in reporting what the government claims, as the government's claims only, if they also take time to investigate them.

    The Sunday Times could have reported, "Two sources in the British government claim X. We requested but have not been provided any evidence to support X. These other people who are familiar with the circumstances say that X is untrue/unlikely, and have offered this evidence in support."

    That really would have been a very simple thing to do. If they cared at all about journalistic integrity. Or facts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Mark Wing, 15 Jun 2015 @ 2:46pm

    "Don't confuse us with facts." ~ Mainstream Journalism

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Justme, 15 Jun 2015 @ 4:15pm

    Broken. . .

    If you look at a lot of the issues that are highlighted on techdirt, i think many could be resolved simple by having quality journalists that called out our public officials so they are held accountable.

    I don't think the importance of journalism to a healthy functioning government can not be overstated. And we need to address the issues that have degraded journalism to point that parroting b.s. is somehow acceptable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Tom Czerniawski, 15 Jun 2015 @ 4:19pm

    Oh my god, what a brilliant clusterfuck - and I'm proud to have been there right from the beginning, as the first hints of this story started popping up on Reddit even before it was published.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. icon
    nasch (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 4:28pm

    Re:

    You mean this is the first time this has occurred or the first time it has struck the noggin that everything in print or in media as news may not be news but might be propaganda?

    You want this kind of thing to be ignored after the first time it happens? Or pointed out so more people are aware of it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. icon
    Nickweller (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 5:22pm

    Re: Government Mouthpieces

    You've got that the wrong. Successive Prime Ministers are required to lubricate the Murdoch arse. All potentially electable Prime Ministers are required to visit the Murdoch residence and kiss the royal ring-finger :)

    http://www.theguardian.com/media/datablog/2012/apr/27/murdoch-meetings-list

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. icon
    Binko Barnes (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 5:35pm

    My guess is that the "news" was reported to the public in pretty much this same fashion in Italy and Germany in the 1930s.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 5:55pm

    Ok, we now know Harper is a shill. I wonder How dumb he is... I mean, if you're going to shill like this, you should at least be paid for it, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 6:02pm

    I guess they figure if they throw enough shit at the wall something will stick. Sad thing is one day they will cry wolf and no one will listen. Haters doing what haters do best.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 6:04pm

    Re: I suspect this is going to push the Sunday Times towards the Hearst end of the journalistic integrity spectrum.

    'Mouthpiece' was a moniker that referred to lawyers, at least in literature. So, by calling the Sunday Times a mouthpiece are you trying to denigrate lawyers or self described journalists?

    (Serious question, if this is the state of journalism, how in hell is congress going to define journalists/reporters for first amendment protection status?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. identicon
    Just Passin' Thru, 15 Jun 2015 @ 6:17pm

    You gotta be kidding me

    T this story strains [my] credibility.

    What are the odds that 2 mutually non-cooperative countries could simultaneously decrypt these files, let alone get access to them when the UK and USA can't. (If they had, they would know exactly how many files Snowden possessed, instead of swagging "2 million").

    I haven't read the article, but the news doesn't pass the first level of credibility checking.

    On the other hand, maybe if the UK or USA ask real nice, the Russians or Chinese could give them a copy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 7:47pm

    Re: Re: I suspect this is going to push the Sunday Times towards the Hearst end of the journalistic integrity spectrum.

    The answer to your question is that defining who is a journalist is irrelevant to the first amendment. Freedom of the press is the right to distribute information to the public. That right is afforded to all individuals not some privileged class of professional journalists that work for corporate news organizations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. icon
    nasch (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 7:54pm

    Re: Re: I suspect this is going to push the Sunday Times towards the Hearst end of the journalistic integrity spectrum.

    'Mouthpiece' was a moniker that referred to lawyers, at least in literature. So, by calling the Sunday Times a mouthpiece are you trying to denigrate lawyers or self described journalists?

    "Mouthpiece" meaning "spokesperson". Unless you were making a joke, in which case never mind.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 8:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: I suspect this is going to push the Sunday Times towards the Hearst end of the journalistic integrity spectrum.

    I understand that. You understand that. What about Congress? They seem to think it needs some kind of certification, like a paycheck or something.

    If one thinks about journalism as someone who keeps a journal, which can be likened to a diary recording current events, then there are a whole lot more journalists than the Congress would like. The differentiation between journalist and reporter seems inconsequential.

    Don't get me wrong, I respect professional journalists, my father was one, for a large national and respected and now defunct magazine. On the other hand, I believe that he would have argued that the protections he depended upon in his profession were not limited to those that followed the same profession he did. There were times when he afforded like kinds of protection to others who were not in the profession in the interest of getting full information for a story. Without telling everyone who he was, there are a lot of people who wrote about his writing with great respect, because of his stance. I was pleasantly amazed when I found out, years later.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 8:16pm

    Re: Ubelieveable

    Ted was just showing Rupert how its done.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 8:30pm

    Re: Re: I suspect this is going to push the Sunday Times towards the Hearst end of the journalistic integrity spectrum.

    'mouthpiece' for a lawyer is an American usage.
    The First Amendment is also American.
    The newspaper in question is in the United Kingdom, and owned by an Australian. So mouthpiece would mean spokesperson (or the end of a wind instrument) and the First Amendment doesn't apply.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45. identicon
    David, 15 Jun 2015 @ 8:49pm

    Re: Broken. . .

    If you look at a lot of the issues that are highlighted on techdirt, i think many could be resolved simple by having quality journalists that called out our public officials so they are held accountable.

    The readers don't pay for news any more, so one has to get paid by the subjects instead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46. icon
    Gary Mont (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 9:40pm

    That's HisStory, and he's sticking to it.

    Methinks what we are seeing here is a snippet of the process of stitching together myths and falsehoods to protect the guilty, that we know fondly as "recording history".

    It matters not that the story was bullshit, or whether anyone now living believes any of it. What matters is that it, and all the others like it, get published.

    For example, those of you who have the intestinal fortitude to watch Fox News, will very likely see this report quoted repeatedly over the next few weeks or months, no matter how many times the entire article is proven to be 100% pure BS.

    In fact, this is apparently the purpose of Fox News.

    This part of the process creates the background mythology - the popular awareness that this was once reported as true.

    History - the past according to the winners - is the accumulated bits and pieces of Official BS that get published like this, specifically so that those pieces can be later gathered together as a whole, and taught to your children's children, as the truth about the past, and in turn, maintains the false family integrity of the myriad criminals who participated in the real events that are not recorded in history.

    In this way, those criminal families responsible for the failure of a civilization, can begin again with a fresh slate and their "good name" intact, after the civilization they have corrupted fails and a new one begins - with the same "good" families at the helm once again.

    Justathot...

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 9:54pm

    Murdoch

    ...also owns Fox News.

    I do hope history holds a special place for Murdochian media the way it does Hearstian journalism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 15 Jun 2015 @ 9:59pm

    Congress WANTS to define journalists as a special caste.

    ...because that would serve the interests of Congress to shut up all those opinionated bloggers and only have to deal with the credentialed journalists they welcome into the club (and control them by controlling who gets into said club).

    Ideally, SCOTUS would set them straight. And if not them, then the anonymous internet, whom, like China, they'll fail to block.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 10:36pm

    Another puff piece from the Propaganda Times. "I just write down what the voices inside my head tell me to, and call it news."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2015 @ 10:43pm

    Re: Slippery Slope

    Problem is, this is what they call journalism these days... So, this guy will probably get a raise/promotion or something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2015 @ 12:43am

    sounds like someone will be visiting a government re education camp in the near future for letting that slip out

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2015 @ 1:14am

    Re:

    Psst. The Sunday Times is a British paper. Try to stay focused.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53. identicon
    David, 16 Jun 2015 @ 2:36am

    Government "Mouthpieces"?

    When the government is talking out of its mouth, it issues press releases. "Well-informed sources" are a different part of the anatomy. More like "press, release".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54. identicon
    AJ, 16 Jun 2015 @ 3:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Slippery Slope

    Let's not forget CNN. Where the news is just kinda "made up" on the fly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55. icon
    JustMe (profile), 16 Jun 2015 @ 4:42am

    MAKE THE VIDEO STOP

    WTF is the purpose of auto-looping, other than to increase the "loop count" so prominently displayed on the video? Even the pause button provides only temporary respite (or maybe it restarted in response to some keyboard command). Also, why does the thing have to be so very large? Where am I, CNN?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2015 @ 5:17am

    oh, sweet irony.

    harper?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2015 @ 5:49am

    What happens when the fourth estate becomes part of the first three?

    When the fourth estate becomes a subsidiary of the first three estates, it is time for cleaning house. All 4 houses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2015 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Slippery Slope

    And gives you a shiver up your leg.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2015 @ 5:55am

    Re: Re: Re: I suspect this is going to push the Sunday Times towards the Hearst end of the journalistic integrity spectrum.

    Freedom of the press is the right to distribute information to the public.

    You are wrong. The 1st amendment is only for the press just like the 2nd amendment is only for a militia. Fortunately for the government, they get to define both groups. /sarc Ok, this is only 1/2 sarc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60. icon
    Seegras (profile), 16 Jun 2015 @ 7:11am

    Re:

    He'd make a great asset for Der Stürmer.

    Of course we have no proof the Jews did any of this. We just publish what we believe to be the position of the German government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61. icon
    Eponymous Coward (profile), 16 Jun 2015 @ 7:37am

    "I mean, it could be that the great fairyland dragon from the 6th dimension dreamed up the Snowden documents and then gave them to Russia and China."

    Well, umm, uhh, we don't want to make conjectures about the fairyland dragon's intentions. All we know is that we leave the offerings of marshmallows and virgins' blood and the stories come to us fully written. I wouldn't know what the fairyland dragon actually did, the government didn't write that bit for us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2015 @ 7:45am

    Wasn't there a storyline just like this in The Newsroom? Except even there they had more (circumstantial) evidence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2015 @ 7:46am

    Re: Slippery Slope

    He'll have to become a politician or lobbyist now...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64. identicon
    Mike from Canada, 16 Jun 2015 @ 7:48am

    Re: Slippery Slope

    spell checking junk mail

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65. identicon
    Jim Anderson, 16 Jun 2015 @ 8:47am

    Sympathy For the Sunday Times

    There is another way to look at the Sunday Times and it's actions. After what has happened it is unlikely that the government of Great Britten will ask the same of the Times again. The integrity of the Times will probably improve going forward. We should keep a critical eye on them and hope for the best.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66. identicon
    That One Other Not So Random Guy, 16 Jun 2015 @ 10:00am

    Re: Tom Harper: Verbatim Transcription Services For Hire

    No... its called Propaganda.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67. identicon
    Petar, 16 Jun 2015 @ 10:40am

    What is his twitter handle ?
    Thx

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 16 Jun 2015 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: Slippery Slope

    "in the US it would be National Enquirer"

    I can see how working for a celebrity gossip paper is a step down, but let's not forget that by every measure over the past couple of decades, the NE consistently rates at the top in terms of factual accuracy. They pretty much have to, because they primarily report (insulting) celebrity gossip and as a result they get sued a lot. If they couldn't prevail in court, they'd be out of business.

    In terms of credibility, it's hard to do better than the National Enquirer. Now, if only they'd report on stuff that is actually important.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 16 Jun 2015 @ 11:01am

    Intentional leaks?

    We get a lot of those in the US. Strangely they're not persecuted by the administration the same way unintentional leaks are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70. icon
    mmjj123 (profile), 16 Jun 2015 @ 11:18am

    Misleading Headline

    The headline for this article is misleading. The journalist stated that his source came from the UK government. That is very different from simply writing what the government to told (ie instructed) him to write, as Techdirt's headline implies.

    Yes, it's entirely possible that the UK government supplied inaccurate or misleading information to support its own agenda - just as the US government frequently does. But that's different from directing a journalist to write something. The choice of what to write is the journalist's. Though, as most people know, journalists usually have an agenda. too. The Sunday Times is part of Murdoch's empire, so I don't suppose this guy would last long there if he didn't toe the Conservative party line, any more than would a Guardian journalist who didn't do the opposite!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71. icon
    mmjj123 (profile), 16 Jun 2015 @ 11:24am

    Politican bias is the norm

    Most UK newspapers have a political bias. To get a balanced view, you need to read at least one on each side of the political divide. (As Britons interested in politics often do.) Even then, the information you end up with is no more reliable than that gleaned from any media source in any country.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72. icon
    nasch (profile), 16 Jun 2015 @ 11:32am

    Re: Misleading Headline

    That is very different from simply writing what the government to told (ie instructed) him to write, as Techdirt's headline implies.

    It's "What UK Gov't Told Him" not "What UK Gov't Told Him to Write". The former means they said things and he wrote them down, which is what happened. The latter means they told him to write them down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73. identicon
    Petar, 16 Jun 2015 @ 1:02pm

    Re:

    I found it ! I spent my day being polite and remind him what he did and will do that for few days for sure and then from time to time ...
    Join me in insuring this is the store at least Tom Harper will never forget and it will mark his professional ( LOL) life ... @TomJHarper

    We live in time of Internet of Things not in 70s where fake jurnos like this can write a story like this and hope they have serious future writing ...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Onjdw_FXyw

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74. identicon
    carroll price, 16 Jun 2015 @ 5:59pm

    Re: deja vue

    The Iraq War was sold to the American people in the exact same fashion. In other words, reporters and journalist simply repeated, as fact, anything and everything told to them by government hacks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2015 @ 8:36pm

    Snowden should sue for defamation. they have no proof, but are making outrageous claims as to who he gave information to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76. identicon
    Snoopman, 22 Jun 2015 @ 4:09pm

    Anonymous Elite Sources

    Routine use of anonymous elite sources is indicative of 'Buying out' by news outlets, or stories being allowed to pass through a new sixth news filter of the Propaganda Model, as this article "Newsroom Conspiracy at Murdoch’s Sunday Times?" explores: http://snoopman.net.nz/?p=2994

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77. icon
    niiwe (profile), 23 Jun 2015 @ 11:58pm

    Oh, the English language.
    Where you drive in the parkway, and park in the driveway.
    Where news comes from comedians, and comedy from the news.

    I wonder which is the more comedic? A 2015 edition of Times/Fox from UK/US, or a 1985 edition of "Pravda" from Soviet?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Aug 2015 @ 11:48pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jun 15th, 2015 @ 1:37pm

    Gfhjjjgvv

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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