‘This approach enforces the prejudice that the establishment press is run by a bunch of high-handed, hypocritical elites…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) For at least two weeks, presumed “whistleblower” Eric Ciaramella‘s name has been widely circulated in conservative media outlets.
It’s been an open secret among Washington insiders and savvy internet sleuths for even longer.
And yet, with the exception of a few prominent figures—including Donald Trump Jr. and Rep. Dan Bishop, R-NC—officials remain not only loath to name the partisan CIA informant, but even to acknowledge that his name has been made public.
In some cases, the result has been a farcical slapstick worthy of the Keystone Cops.
“While insisting that it is protecting the informant by withholding details that would put him at risk, the press has danced a sloppy burlesque, stripping off a feathered boa here, a slip skirt there to reveal most if not all of the whistleblower’s bare skin to careful readers,” observed Politico Senior Media Writer Jack Shafer in an opinion piece published Thursday.
In other cases, it has been brazenly outrageous, such as “Pinocchio” winner Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence chair currently leading the impeachment spectacle, who—despite having been called out for lying about his office’s early coordination with the whistleblower—continued to insist he did not know the identity during the kickoff to public hearings on Wednesday.
Schiff has long since reneged on his early assurance that the whistleblower would testify before Congress and has used the pretense of preserving anonymity as a ploy to exert strict control over the impeachment process, blocking Republicans from presenting their full defense.
More significantly—as many already deem the partisan House’s long-sought articles of impeachment a foregone conclusion—Schiff and others have exploited the leaky-faucet drip of information via media allies like The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN, in the hope of manipulating public perception and support for their efforts.
By feigning ignorance of the whistleblower—essentially failing to do their job as purveyors of information—under ethical auspices, these outlets have given themselves free rein to interpret any other information that may damage Democrats’ latest impeachment mulligan as a matter of duty rather than lazy neglect or bias.
“I’m not convinced his identity is important at this point, or at least important enough to put him at any risk, or to unmask someone who doesn’t want to be identified,” said New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet, a notoriously unapologetic Trump-basher.
Rule No. 1 of the mainstream media’s Hypocritical Oath: First Do No Harm (to the Left’s Agenda).
It also feeds directly into the Left’s talking points, helping to falsely support the contrived narrative parallels with Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, which included in its cast of movie-ready characters the mysterious “Deep Throat” (later revealed as FBI associate director Mark Felt).
One key difference, of course, is that in Watergate, the reporters were protecting their own source and not abetting the opposition party’s ongoing attempts to leverage a political advantage of its own.
But as Shafer’s piece revealed Thursday, the cost to the media’s own credibility this time has brought the benefit of laying cover for Schiff and his associates to its tipping point.
“[T]he whistleblower’s identity has become a political issue, and all this press coyness—giving this much information and no more—puts the country’s top publications at risk of losing the trust of their readers,” Shafer acknowledged.
“This approach enforces the prejudice that the establishment press is run by a bunch of high-handed, hypocritical elites,” he continued. “It also surrenders a newsworthy story to elements of the right-wing press unencumbered by the Times’ ethical sensibilities when it comes to revealing supposed names of Trump critics and publishing their names.”
Thus, tellingly, the publication that built its brand on insider knowledge of the DC swamp—while continuing to defend the subterfuge as “ethical”—may abandon the effort if only to avoid giving a competitive advantage to the conservative press, which it snobbishly declares inferior for running the name of an anti-Trump operative it was helping to conceal.
Every moment spent not uttering Ciaramella’s name is a moment lost to spinning positive narratives about him that might counter the reporting on his litany of deep-state connections and history of partisan activism.
“The establishment press’ self-censorship—its view that the whistleblower’s identity is forbidden knowledge and shall not be spoken—has ceded a major, newsworthy story to right-wingers who might not be the greatest journalists but at least have the sense to ask the right questions,” the former Slate and SF Weekly reporter opined derisively.
Also, tellingly, however, is that Shafer’s article still refused to name him, insisting that it had yet to “independently verify” the information.
Given the outlet’s history of vetting its reporting with Democratic insiders like Hillary Clinton‘s campaign chief, John Podesta, it seems somewhat implausible that such confirmation would be difficult to come by.
Shafer fretted, moreover, about the fact that outlets like The Washington Post were shooting themselves in the foot by not only refusing to utter the name, but by then covering the conservative outlets that were running with Ciaramella’s identity in an effort to delegitimize them.
Rather, “[b]y alerting its readers to the conservative news sites and sources that were publishing the name, the Post became complicit in the effort to expose the whistleblower,” he said. “It did not publish his name, but it might as well have.”