Ownership of WaPo by CIA Contractor Puts U.S. Journalism in Dangerous Terrain

  January 14, 2014

Ownership of WaPo by CIA Contractor Puts U.S. Journalism in Dangerous Terrain

Norman Solomon: There is a major conflict of interest in the ownership of The Washington Post by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who holds a $600 million contract with the CIA
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

No sports, no celebrities, no paid stories, no agendas. Pure integrity. - Steve Dustcircle
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


Ownership of WaPo by CIA Contractor Puts U.S. Journalism in Dangerous 
TerrainJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

As many already know, the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, purchased one of America's largest newspapers, The Washington Post, last year. Our guest today has written an article about how this may affect American journalism. His piece is titled "Why The Washington Post's New Ties to the CIA Are So Ominous.

Now joining us is our guest, Norman Solomon. He is the cofounder of RootsAction.org.

Thanks for joining us, Norman.


DESVARIEUX: So, Norman, you wrote in your article that American journalism has entered a "highly dangerous terrain." Can you explain further why even more so now?

SOLOMON: Yeah. It's very dangerous to normalize the situation that we have today, where a man who has 25 billion (with a B) dollars in personal wealth, Jeff Bezos, and has been able to accumulate that wealth because he's the founder and CEO and main stakeholder in Amazon is now the only owner of The Washington Post. And Bezos's outside company, Amazon, has just entered into a $600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency. So, on the one hand, Amazon is in a business deal to keep the secrets of the CIA in its computing cloud, while the newspaper that Bezos is the sole owner of ostensibly is in the business of exposing the secrets of the CIA and other government agencies. Well, they're at cross purposes.

The mythology is that that doesn't matter, because who owns a newspaper doesn't affect the atmosphere or policies or reporting that come out of the newsroom. But in the real world, this is a new structural relationship that, unlike in the past, is not only built on personal relations or ideological connections or some stray business affinities; this is a direct conflict of interest, where the owner of what some believe is the most powerful political media outlet in the country is not only gaining more wealth from a big contract with the CIA, but is also eager to gain even more business from the CIA, because Amazon has said, hey, the $600 million from the agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, is just a start. We look forward to, Amazon says, in its words, "a successful relationship with the CIA."

So this is, I think, at the crossroads of a contradiction between an ostensibly free press and a corporate-digital-governmental tacit alliance that is about using digital power to keep some data secret and to extend the surveillance state, to gather data and to use it, among other things, in the service of ongoing warfare across much of the planet.

DESVARIEUX: Since you wrote your piece, has Amazon responded at all?

SOLOMON: Well, the only comment that has come back from official sources on this in terms of Amazon or Bezos or The Washington Post have been in a form of email correspondence between myself representing RootAction.org and 30,000 people who have signed a RootsAction petition urging full disclosure from The Post in its coverage of the CIA about this conflict and, on the other hand, the executive editor of The Washington Post, Martin Baron. And he has basically said, look, we have our normal ways of doing disclosure in articles when there's some kind of conflict of interest with our ownership, and that is sufficient. People can read the correspondence between myself and top editor of The Washington Post at RootsAction.org.

Our response from RootsAction is, hey, there's nothing normal about this, or there shouldn't be anything normal about this, where such a powerful political reporting news organization, The Washington Post, has its owner doing such a huge business deals with the CIA. And, I think, to make matters worse, we have gradually, through political proclivities of sort of Uncle Sam morphing more into Big Brother, and also the technological digital capacities to do enormous extents of surveillance Orwell and Big Brother in 1984, could hardly have dreamed of, we have this new frontier of the warfare state, the surveillance state, digital capacity, corporate power, and media that more and more is online and is through people's computers and cell phones and all the rest of it.

So the net effect is that the comment we're getting back is sort of antiquated. It's sort of by the book, paint-by-numbers--don't worry, we will acknowledge the most overt conflicts of interest.

But what we got back from this editor of The Washington Post essentially avoids the fact that we don't even know what's in that computing cloud. In other words, why is the CIA paying $600 million to Jeff Bezos's company, Amazon, to keep all that data and all those secrets in the cloud? Meanwhile, we have The Washington Post telling RootsAction.org--and, really, the world--look, if there's a direct conflict of interest, if we're doing a story on Kindle, for instance, we will acknowledge that the owner of our newspaper is also a major stakeholder in Amazon, and they're selling Kindles and ebooks and all the rest of that. Well, that's not sufficient when also the owner of the The Washington Post has a company that is keeping the computing cloud safe and secure for massive amounts of data on contract with the CIA.

And what is in that cloud? Well, we can assume there's data on the U.S. rendition of people for torture to other countries, information about targeting drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan and elsewhere, counterinsurgency data and assessments and aggregation of information for many countries around the world. There's no journalist at The Washington Post who can say, well, my story about any aspect of the CIA is not directly connected to what the owner of this newspaper is helping to safeguard in the cloud by contract from the CIA. And I think this begins to open a window into just how insidious this conflict of interest between the surveillance state, warfare state, and corporate media, how all that really adds up.

DESVARIEUX: Alright. Norman Solomon, very interesting article. Thank you so much for joining us.

SOLOMON: Pleasure. Thank you.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

latest stories

How Washington's Money-Machine Stays Ahead of Democracy
TRIPS: The Story of How Intellectual Property Became Linked to Trade (2/7)
A Just Transition for Fossil Fuels Workers is Possible
Breaking Through Power: Jordan Estevao on Training for Change
Prospect of US Arm Shipments to Ukraine After Elections Prompts Restarting of Peace Negotiations
TRIPS: The Story of How Intellectual Property Became Linked to Trade (1/7)
Why is the State of Maryland Defending Racist Practices of the Pocomoke police?
Elites Outraged At Trump's Refusal to Accept Election Result
Two More Land Rights Activists Assassinated in Honduras
Final Presidential Debate Accentuates Candidates' Divide on Abortion Rights
Clinton Reaffirms Commitment to No-Fly Zone in Syria
A Bloodier Battle for Mosul Might Begin After the Ouster of ISIS
Covering the Epidemic of Violence in Baltimore - TRNN Grand Opening
Justice Department Sues Pocomoke For Violating Rights of Fired Black Police Chief
Officers Withdrawn from North Dakota Following Arrest of Madison Elected Official
Fair Elections Under Attack, Just Not in the Way Donald Trump Wants You to Believe
TiSA Agreement Leaks Show Corporations Pushing Privatization of Public Services
Exxon Fighting to Shut Down Investigations Into Company's Foreknowledge of Climate Change
Opposition Calls for a General Strike As Congolese President Wins Election Delay
The Path to Actual Police Reform Starts with Real Civilian Oversight
HFC Reduction Agreement Is Historic, But No Silver Bullet for Climate Change
What the NYT Left Out About Obama's 'Secret War' in Somalia
After Mosul, Whither ISIS?
US-Russia Tensions Escalating Over Fate of Assad
Seattle Teachers in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter
'Rioting' Charges Dismissed against Journalist for Exposing State Repression Of Standing Rock Sioux
For Indigenous Lenca People in Honduras, Rebellion Is a Centuries-Old Story
Tax Breaks for Wealthy Developers Reinforce Segregation in Baltimore
Eddie Conway Interviews Brazilian Youth Militants
Journalist Amy Goodman to Turn Herself in to Defend Freedom of the Press

TheRealNewsNetwork.com, RealNewsNetwork.com, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting