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Category Archives: Media Criticism

The Real Story Behind Citizenfour’s Oscar

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Monday, February 23, 2015 at 4:21 PM

Like a lot of Lawfare readers, we were pretty surprised by Citizenfour‘s triumph at the Oscars last night. It wasn’t just that there was Glenn Greenwald, foe of all things mainstream, holding—of all things—that picture of establishment respectability, the Oscar. It was, more importantly, the question of who the heck decided to honor this paranoid and self-congratulatory film? . . .
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The New York Times Public Editor Backs James Risen’s “Truth-Telling”

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Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 5:09 PM

Soon after Jack posted this piece on James Risen’s attacks on Eric Holder, which Ben had criticized earlier, the New York Times’s Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, wrote a post in support of Risen’s tweets. Reasonable people will differ over the right norms for journalists on Twitter—an issue Ben’s original post and Sullivan’s both engage. But there is one . . .
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Risen, Holder, and Journalists’ Sensitivity to Accountability

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Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 2:24 PM

I largely agree with Ben’s critique of James Risen’s sharp twitter criticisms of Attorney General Holder, but want to add (or reiterate) several points. First, to underscore what Ben says, the absence of a First Amendment reporter’s privilege long preceded Eric Holder and cannot plausibly be said to be part of his “legacy,” as Risen . . .
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James Risen’s Twitter Tirade Against Eric Holder

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 10:19 PM

Yesterday, speaking at the National Press Club, Attorney General Eric Holder was asked a question about the Obama administration’s prosecution of leakers, and he offered the following thoughts: Question: The Obama administration has prosecuted eight alleged whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, more than all previous presidential administrations combined. What justifies this more aggressive posture towards leakers? . . .
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Pew Poll on Investigative Journalists and Digital Security

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Monday, February 9, 2015 at 7:51 AM

This is interesting. From the Pew Research Center: About two-thirds of investigative journalists surveyed (64%) believe that the U.S. government has probably collected data about their phone calls, emails or online communications, and eight-in-ten believe that being a journalist increases the likelihood that their data will be collected. Those who report on national security, foreign . . .
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The Intercept, SecureDrop, and Foreign Intelligence Services: A Response

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Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 2:30 PM

Those readers who do not spend a lot of time on Twitter may have missed the beating Ben has been taking there for this post last week suggesting that the folks at The Intercept may be overestimating their security capabilities relative to the offensive capabilities of nation state intelligence services. The claim in the original article was . . .
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Safe Havens Still Matter

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 9:13 PM

Micah Zenko and Amelia M. Wolf, both with the Council on Foreign Relations, have a new piece in Foreign Policy which argues against the “myth” that safe havens allow terrorists a space in which to flourish. They claim that this myth has only led us fruitlessly abroad in search of monsters to destroy. It’s a stunning . . .
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Moral Obtuseness, Guantanamo, Boko Haram, and the Media

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 6:18 PM

This morning’s BBC’s NewsHour show opened with a news judgment reflecting a genuinely odd moral calculus. At the end of the show’s headlines section, announcer James Menendez says: “coming up later in the program today, our West Africa correspondent . . . is on the shores of Lake Chad, where survivors—many of them missing family members—have . . .
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There is Nothing Wrong with Comey Criticizing the NYT

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Friday, January 16, 2015 at 1:30 PM

The U.S. government has effectively granted journalists immunity from prosecution for violating the criminal prohibitions on publication of certain classified information, and it has begun to recognize a norm against forcing journalists to disclose their sources.  As I wrote in Power and Constraint, “Underlying this persistent restraint [by the USG] is a recognition—based in part . . .
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Misunderstanding Terrorism: Charlie Hebdo Didn’t Provoke the Killers

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Monday, January 12, 2015 at 3:01 PM

Some commentators who have condemned the Charlie Hebdo killings have, in the same breath, criticized the publication for being unnecessarily provocative. Last Wednesday over at the New York Times, Ross Douthat countered the “unnecessary” half of this characterization, writing: “If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then . . .
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The Intercept Finds an Anonymous Source It Can Trust

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Friday, January 9, 2015 at 4:34 PM

For years, Glenn Greenwald has been railing against against mainstream newspapers for, as he put it just the other day, “as usual—corruptly grant[ing] anonymity to ‘senior administration officials’ to disseminate their inflammatory claims with no accountability.” At last, however, Greenwald’s publication, the always-adversarial The Intercept, has found an organization worthy of trust, one to whose senior officials it can . . .
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The Onion’s Minotaur Video

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Friday, December 12, 2014 at 12:17 PM

No news source in any medium captures the CIA interrogation debate more fully than this video from the Onion, which bears reposting this week:

A Further Thought on the Demise of the New Republic

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Friday, December 5, 2014 at 8:47 AM

Jack summed up well my feelings on yesterday’s news about the New Republic, and I have only two things to add—one of them institutional and one of them personal. On the institutional side, as readers know, Lawfare has had a productive relationship with TNR for a while now, one in which TNR promoted Lawfare‘s content and in which we developed . . .
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On the Sad Collapse of the New Republic [UPDATED]

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Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 6:21 PM

I’ve read the New Republic since college.  And I’ve read book reviews in the “back of the book,” edited by Leon Wieseltier, most devotedly.  I have always loved the books he chose and the reviews he edited.  Through many different styles of Editor-in-Chief and other upheavals at the magazine over the years, Leon’s book reviews . . .
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Khorasan: Not Quite Out of Nowhere

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Monday, September 29, 2014 at 9:31 PM

In a post this weekend, to which both Jack and Ben have already written responses, Glenn Greenwald suggests the Khorasan group is a “wholesale concoction” that appeared “seemingly out of nowhere” in the press in the run-up to the current campaign. In contrast to Greenwald’s claim, the Long War Journal has a series of posts dating . . .
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U.S. News Gets it Wrong on Guantanamo and Foley’s Killer

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 11:27 AM

If terrorist capture comes, can a debate over Guantanamo vs. federal court be far behind? Apparently not. This time, the debate is coming even before the terrorist’s capture—or even his positive identification. And U.S. News and World Report, at least, is getting the answer wrong. The magazine reports that “Legal experts say it’s possible the jihadist who beheaded American . . .
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The New York Times Equivocates on Ransoms

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Friday, August 22, 2014 at 3:38 PM

“There is no simple answer on whether to submit to terrorist extortion,” editorializes the New York Times today. Actually, there is a right answer—and it’s a relatively simple one. As the editorial acknowledges in the next sentence, “The United States and Britain refuse to pay ransoms, and there is evidence that hostage takers target victims . . .
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Government Protection of Classified Information, August 2014 [UPDATED]

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Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 3:37 PM

From this morning’s NYT story on the Foley rescue operation: The officials revealed the mission in a conference call with reporters, in which they spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the operation. . . . Two Defense Department officials, who spoke separately [about the classified operation] on the condition of . . .
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Schlesinger v. Cillizza

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 7:34 AM

Chris Cillizza has a piece in the WP that argues that the world is too splintered and partisan and complex, and communication and persuasion too difficult, for the president of the United States to succeed.  This is an old claim.  John Steinbeck said of the presidency under Johnson: “We give the President more work than . . .
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Barton Gellman on the Washington Post’s NSA Story

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Monday, July 14, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Over at the Washington Post, reporter Barton Gellman has a lengthy article on his (and his coauthors’) reporting methods and ethical choices in their recent story on the large cache of electronic conversations that Edward Snowden gave them. The article is excellent—interesting and illuminating in a number of respects—and I recommend reading it in its entirety. For present purposes, . . .
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