Journalistic Malpractice

Glenn Greenwald has a must-read piece today about a journalistic scandal at Wired involving multiple undisclosed conflicts of interest that appear to have led to blatantly misleading coverage of Army PFC Bradley Manning’s alleged passing on of classified documents to Wikileaks:

For more than six months, Wired‘s Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen has possessed — but refuses to publish — the key evidence in one of the year’s most significant political stories:  the arrest of U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning for allegedly acting as WikiLeaks’ source.  In late May, Adrian Lamo — at the same time he was working with the FBI as a government informant against Manning — gave Poulsen what he purported to be the full chat logs between Manning and Lamo in which the Army Private allegedly confessed to having been the source for the various cables, documents and video which WikiLeaks released throughout this year.  In interviews with me in June, both Poulsen and Lamo confirmed that Lamo placed no substantive restrictions on Poulsen with regard to the chat logs:  Wired was and remains free to publish the logs in their entirety.

Despite that, on June 10, Wired published what it said was only “about 25%” of those logs, excerpts which it hand-picked.   For the last six months, Poulsen has not only steadfastly refused to release any further excerpts, but worse, has refused to answer questions about what those logs do and do not contain.  This is easily one of the worst journalistic disgraces of the year:  it is just inconceivable that someone who claims to be a “journalist” — or who wants to be regarded as one — would actively conceal from the public, for months on end, the key evidence in a political story that has generated headlines around the world.

In June, I examined the long, strange, and multi-layered relationship between Poulsen and Lamo, and in that piece raised the issue of Wired‘s severe journalistic malfeasance in withholding these chat logs.  But this matter needs to be re-visited now for three reasons:

(1) for the last six months, Adrian Lamo has been allowed to run around making increasingly sensationalistic claims about what Manning told him; journalists then prominently print Lamo’s assertions, but Poulsen’s refusal to release the logs or even verify Lamo’s statements prevents anyone from knowing whether Lamo’s claims about what Manning said are actually true;

(2) there are new, previously undisclosed facts about the long relationship between Wired/Poulsen and a key figure in Manning’s arrest — facts which Poulsen inexcusably concealed; and,

(3) subsequent events gut Poulsen’s rationale for concealing the logs and, in some cases, prove that his claims are false.

This introductory quote from Glenn’s piece truly can only begin to convey how seriously the mainstream media’s coverage of this story — and hence the public’s understanding of it — have been distorted by its reliance on Lamo’s claims about what the chat logs reveal without being able to confirm those claims. There are far too many moving parts for me to be able to do them justice by selective quoting or paraphrasing. You need to read the entire thing.

Author: KATHY KATTENBURG