A “progressive” columnist whose own organization is pursuing a “fresh approach” in contrast to “a far-right Republican Party that is a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America,” is petitioning the Washington Post to publicize its owners’ financial investments each time it reports on the CIA.
That’s because the owner of the Post, Jeff Bezos, includes among his other corporate assets a significant interest in Amazon, which recently got a $600 million contract essentially to provide computer storage for the CIA.
The concerns are being raised by Norman Solomon in a commentary posted on Guernicamag.com.
Solomon, who is the co-founder of RootsAction.org, has used the site to create a petition to the Post telling the newspaper it should includes in its articles on the CIA that the Post’s owner “is in business with the CIA.”
Solomon, whose organization warns “corporate power over both major parties is afflicting and poisoning the body politic” and calls for “genuine democracy,” writes in his commentary that journalism is in a “highly dangerous terrain,” because of the newspaper owner’s personal financial investments.
“Last October, Amazon won a $600 million contract to build a ‘cloud’ for storing CIA data. The contract puts Bezos’ two entities at cross-purposes: The Post is supposed to expose CIA secrets. Amazon is under contract to keep them. The situation is unprecedented. Both Amazon and the CIA enjoy digital prowess at collecting global data and keeping secrets, and the two institutions have only just begun to explore how to work together more effectively,” he wrote.
Solomon noted the newspaper’s explanation, which came from Executive Editor Martin Baron in an email exchange: “The Post has among the strictest ethics policies in the field of journalism, and we vigorously enforce it. We have routinely disclosed corporate conflicts when they were directly relevant to our coverage. We reported on Amazon’s pursuit of CIA contracts in our coverage of plans by Jeff Bezos to purchase the Washington Post.”
It wasn’t enough for Solomon, who continued, “The Washington Post’s refusal to provide readers with minimal disclosure in coverage of the CIA is important on its own. But it’s also a marker for an ominous pattern: combining denial with accommodation to raw financial and governmental power. This is a synergy of media leverage, corporate digital muscle and secretive agencies implementing policies of mass surveillance, covert action and ongoing warfare.”
Solomon noted the CIA over the years has “enjoyed direct collaboration with many U.S. news organizations.”
Now, he charges, the purchase of the newspaper by Bezos, “has poured some high-finance concrete for a new structural bridge between the media industry and the surveillance/warfare state.”
It also “puts the CIA in closer institutionalized proximity to the Post, arguably the most important political media outlet in the United States,” he said.
Solomon said some 30,000 have signed his petition calling for story-by-story disclosure.
Guernica Daily is an online magazine for art, poetry and politics, and RootsAction “is an online initiative dedicated to galvanizing Americans who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights, civil liberties, environmental protection – and defunding endless wars.”
It recently reported under the headline “Run, Bernie, Run” a survey about Sen. Bernie Sanders, and how Edward Snowden, who released classified documents from the National Security Agency, did not break any secrecy “oath.”