August 7, 2023
Stand Up And Speak Out
Freedom Of The Press, Freedom Of Speech, And Government Accountability Is At Stake
There was a time in journalism when it took just a small band of journalists to hold the line on journalistic ethics and government corruption boldly no matter what the industry endured. Some were put on presidential enemy lists like the late Daniel Schorr and Mary McGrory during the Nixon administration.
Schorr not only reported on it during the 1973 Watergate hearings, he read the names on the list on LIVE television discovering he was number 17 on the list.
John Dean, who flipped during Watergate investigation, had turned over the list to the committee. He explained, the enemies list was to be a tool “to screw our political enemies.”
Other reporters were gaslighted somewhat or called out when they challenged administrations.
Dan Rather challenged the Nixon White House. Sam Donaldson challenged the Reagan White House and nearly everyone he ever covered.
The art of courting journalists, especially the White House press corps with their DC Bureau Chiefs, was one way of curbing journalists’ behavior in the old days, but news executive always took the side of the reporter at least publicly. They were not intimidated by power. That was in their job description in theory not to roll over because of power when reporting facts.
Most of the old guard when I first fell in love with journalism were the first generation after the Edward Murrow’s generation that included Eric Sevareid, Howard K. Smith and William Shirer, or the youngsters of the Murrow generation like Walter Cronkite, and those who followed like Hal Bruno, and Sander Vanocur. I was mentored by Bruno and Vanocur. They were two of the smartest contextual political reporters of their day. They had brains and courageous spinal fortitude to never back down from bullies and liars.
I worked with many of them of these men, knew them all, and personally mentored by some.
Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, changed history in the 1960s. He and the national press were spoon-fed government daily by government officials on the Vietnam War. Then Cronkite’s lights flipped on when the journalists on the ground inside Vietnam saw the war first-hand that contradicted the government daily briefings. Cronkite and the network brass realized the press and the public were being played and lied to on a daily basis and they went up against the tide and reported the truth.
Journalism is a great profession if your goal is to get the facts wherever the story takes you, tell the truth regardless of your political persuasion, and hold governments and corporate wheelers and dealers accountable to the public.
Rule number one - read history and grow your curiosity while expanding your instincts, keep your word and continue to ask questions and always protect your sources.
The religion of real journalism is what Ben Bradlee stated with color - if a source lies to you, do not hold back and expose them although Bradlee said it in more earthy terms.
That is what real journalism looks like and young journalists should aspire to practice.
Never be the pawn of your sources.
But now, we find our surreal world at a tipping point where up is down - left is right - democracies are embracing totalitarian tactics with oppressive goals - where freedoms taken for granted are at risk.
And, we find the media being subjected to pressures for a variety of reasons, and in some cases, news organization leadership succumbing to a level not witnessed by this seasoned journalist in over 40 years.
Any sponsor of my work whether at the networks or in syndication or in print never dictated to me editorially. I can attest that even in the 1980s that Ted Turner did not dictate how we covered the news when I was with the political unit, and later as Political Director. Not once did he or anyone above me, tell me to pull the reigns in although the late Ed Turner (no relationship to Ted) did instruct me to never again take a taxi from NYC to DC for a meeting when LaGuardia was fogged in, and Amtrak was late.
In February 1980, I wrote an internal memo on a political action committee that was viscerally against gay rights while it was headed by a gay man who had not gone public with his sexuality even though those covering politics and political operatives on all sides knew in D.C. he was gay. He had raised a boatload of money fighting gay rights and was boldly outspoken against gay rights.
To me, the story was about his sheer hypocrisy, but the generation ahead of me did not want to do the story initially because they felt it was about privacy. I wrote the internal memo on this story at ABC News and argued my case keeping in mind that those ahead of me may not agree because they were old-school journalists. I knew it was a leap for some, but my boss then, Hal Bruno, read it and sent it to New York brass anyway. Hal had guts and instincts, trained me well.
“You never know until you put the story idea on the table,” was one of Hal’s mottos.
For five months, ABC News sat on the story. Then Bob Furnad, the then Executive Producer of ABC’s Good Morning America, and one of the best LIVE producers in the industry, called me about 2am.
“I need you to wake up - Where is that memo you wrote?”
The New York Times broke the damn. We followed.
Later, at CNN, I banned the guy who ran the PAC from being interviewed on the network because of his hypocrisy. When he attempted to enter our 1984 republican convention booth, I personally kicked him and his public relations hack out of the booth,and told the lead network booker, “Never book him. He has no credibility.”
In recent years, we have not just the revolving door of press secretaries from administrations on both sides anchoring shows, we have contracted contributors to the networks, who have misled and in some cases, lied to the public and the press in the past, and we have normalized these misleading actors and liars as legitimate sources and analysts.
All you have to do is watch MSNBC and CNN and see some of the former DOJ officials and members of the 51 former intelligence officials who signed the Hunter Biden Russian disinformation memo following the publication of the New York Post story in October 2020. They are lining up and spewing their political pontifications as if they are factually responding to the daily headlines. And, the anchors roll over.
In the old days, real journalists would speak up and ask, “Why is this discredited source on our air? It ruins the brand and the industry.”
But, now, we are at a new level of gaslighting reporters and going after the ethics and practices protected by the First Amendment.
First, the Biden White House decided to weed out the critics and little news organization from the White House press corps. They announced in May that in order to have a White House hard press pass they were changing the rules for everyone across the board.
Somewhat ironic how equity has now seeped into gaslighting and censorship. Now, it is being twisted to deny access.
Those holding White House hard press passes now are required to live within the Washington, D.C. area. That never happened before. Now, they must either have a Congressional or Supreme Court press pass to qualify for a White House hard press pass. That too has never been a requirement.
If they do not fulfill those requirements, they may not receive or get their White House press passes renewed. And, if that is the case, and they still want to cover the White Houses, they must apply daily to get a pass and undergo a Secret Service review. That just adds hassles, takes up time and subjects the reporter to unnecessary hurdles to discourage the reporters.
That may not sound too oppressive to the public, but in reality, it is tactic used to keep the critics out of the newsroom.
The Biden White House is now into “nuking access” to the People’s White House.
Little news organizations are valuable to a democracy. If not for the black owned and operated newspapers and radio stations in this beloved country, Nelson Mandela’s fight for freedom may never have happened. Let that sink in. I know only too well because I was the Spokesperson for the 1990 Nelson Mandela Tour.
The result of the Biden White House policy has turned this war against Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech into another tsunami, but if enough people wake up, this tide can be turned.
Of the approximate 1,417 White House hard press pass holders, 442 reporters have been purged from the White House press corps. Not all of those 442 cases have run its full course, but the outcomes so far look bleak for some. Many are considering filing lawsuits.
Americans need to grasp the bottom line of this slippery slope - if you stand on the sidelines when freedoms are chipped away, you will be next because the Biden White House and administration have proven they will stop at nothing.
Their policy is to deny, deflect, dismiss, defame, and destroy.
The White House was clever to attempt to create the illusion that their press policy change equaled “equity” by demanding the new rules applied to everyone, but that is hardly plausible. This is their modus operandi. This administration governs by executive orders, violates laws and think nothing of spending taxpayer’s money to litigate in court as they continue to break the law or push it so far over the cliff there is nothing left other than to challenge them in court.
And, it is a very dangerous game.
This latest attack on the White House press is their way of targeting those they want to toss out because some are a pain in the neck for the feckless White House Press Secretary because they have challenged her and the administration.
Furthermore, the 2024 campaign is in motion. Biden family’s sins - if not crimes - are surfacing and the administration desperately wants to keep the lid on those with Biden’s poll numbers sinking.
Look at how the democrats have treated Bobby Kennedy, Jr., one of their own. It does not matter if you are even a member of the Kennedy political dynasty. They will not put the brakes on their defamatory tactics. They have instilled fear obviously into some of the Kennedy clan whom the Biden White House has employed as Ambassadors in Australia and Austria and as an Envoy to North Ireland, or those who have had PHARMA executives on their board.
Instead of a strong relationship with the White House press, Karine Jean-Pierre speaks down to the press with such transparent distain for those whose jobs are to hold the White House accountable, as well as to hold her accountable as the White House Spokesperson.
Expectedly it involves some tension, but a lot more if a White House Spokesperson denies, deflects, dismisses and outright lies, and now, wants to nuke access to the very institution she speaks for that owes accountability to the public.
Second reason why the press and public need to stand up and speak out is because one of the best and the brightest seasoned investigative journalists in our cadre of seasoned investigative journalists in the US is now ordered to reveal her confidential source or sources.
Judge Christopher Cooper of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, who was appointed to the bench by President Obama, has ruled that CBS News Senior Correspondent Catherine Herridge must sit for a deposition and reveal her confidential source or sources that led to a series of 2017 stories published while she worked at Fox News.
Herridge had reported that Chinese American scientist Yanping Chen was the subject of a federal counterintelligence probe. Judge Cooper’s order originated from a lawsuit Chen filed against the Federal Bureau of Investigation alleging that federal officials improperly leaked information that violated her rights under the Privacy Act.
It will be interesting to see where some of the major U.S. newspapers stand on this issue and whether they will file an amicus brief in this case.
It is well-known that an FBI official connected to the Southern District of New York’s prosecutorial office had fed misleading and false information at times to journalists. Later, it was revealed that was a way to continue criminal probes of those the FBI targeted within financial fraud cases.
What was the purpose of these shenanigans feeding false information to the press?
As they say in law enforcement circles - “to tickle the wire” - to eavesdrop on wiretaps to establish obstruction of justice charges and play one potential targeted defendant against the other.
Has it worked in the past? Absolutely.
This White House press pass endeavor and this court ruling for Herridge to sit for a deposition should be as head-snapping as what happened to Lara Logan when the Obama administration officials were hellbent in not revealing what really happened at Benghazi after the Clinton State Department officials were “read-in” to the FBI Benghazi investigation when the FBI was interviewing the very man that Logan interviewed on 60 Minutes. What happened to Lara Logan never should have happened.
After that public attack and takedown of Logan, pictures were turned over to this journalist that had been turned over earlier to the FBI and State Department, which were verified by the State Dept. That story landed on the front page of The Washington Times when John Solomon was Editor. I had the FBI emails and State Dept. emails and the pictures, which was deemed evidence, in my possession.
Solomon and I are hardball investigative journalists and understand law enforcement. All hell was going to break loose if people did not tell the truth. Solomon and I were prepared to publish the communications and not redact one word. We received confirmation and printed the story.
These recent situations should be as head-snapping as what happened to Sharyl Attkisson, who took on the Obama administration for Fast and Furious, Benghazi and what happened to her hacked computer.
These recent situations should be as head-snapping as Canada’s Justine Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland ordering bank accounts frozen during the Canadian convoy in Ottawa in early 2022 when the press bought into the falsehoods pushed by the Prime Minister and Deputy Minister that Ottawa was a war zone. CDM had cameras in Ottawa. The evidence was contradicting to what Trudeau was pushing. The situation was unruly after Trudeau sent in the men on horseback.
These White House and Herridge situations should be as head-snapping as when United Airlines executives in August 2021 mandated covid vaccinations, made it difficult for their employees to apply for religious exemptions, and then upon receiving their religious exemptions were put on “indefinite unpaid leave” with no paycheck, no access to medical insurance, life insurance, no free flights and most importantly, no access to their 401(K)s during a global pandemic even for financial hardship.
And, then when United Airlines invited the exempted employees back to work in March 2022, some of those same religiously exempted employees were allegedly discriminated against within the confines of the traditional “seniority” program for flight crews and pilots.
One of the more head-snapping stories is the massively immoral gaslighting of covid vaccinated injured by not only the Biden administration but the legacy media. That alone stands as a global stain on the media across the globe. Not reporting on covid vaccinated injuries has created a population of disabled human beings many of whom even today have not recovered.
To date, the FDA, NIH, NIAID, CDC, Biden White House, and PHARMA have continued to deny the vascular and neurological injuries due to the covid shots.
It is mind-boggling when you look at this landscape from the 45,000 foot level.
The depth and breath of governments and news organization in partnership with these federal authorities in abusing the public and our fellow media brethren is off the charts. Those who have joined this bandwagon are partners and complicit by their silence.
It is time for real journalists to stand up and speak out. The Biden White House are only tenants in that complex. They do not own it however long their political tenancy last. No members of the press should be denied access just because the Biden administration does not like their questions or their criticism.
In 2018, the press corps rallied around Jim Acosta of CNN who was quite vocal and aggressive with the Trump White House. He was denied access after he was accused of accosting a Trump White House official. CNN sued. The court ruled in Acosta’s favor opining that the White House could not deny his access, and hence, ordered he be re-instated. Acosta thanked his White House press colleagues at the time for standing by him.
Now, with 442 on the verge of losing access at the White House there are too many “crickets.”
With Herridge now on the block, every reporter, and especially every investigative journalist, needs to stand up and speak out for Herridge.
If not, investigative journalism is dead and, if investigative journalism is dead, revealing government corruption however small or large will never see the light of day.
Here’s the bottom line -
Do silent and intimidated journalists, editors and news organization executives really think they are immune from this type of political and legal chicanery?
If so, they are naive and playing a Russian roulette game with democracy.
They will be next. It is just a matter of time.
That is the reality of the nature of the beast in covering political corruption.
Every seasoned journalist - on-air - off-air - behind a camera - behind a desk - knows there comes a time when their ethics and leadership is tested if they play hardball. It is inevitable, especially if you are at the top of one’s profession. In the end, the ones who are real journalists never back down.
CDM and other colleagues in the media are committed to standing up and turning this tide no matter what the Biden Administration throws at them and the courts order as they continue to chip away at Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech.
CDM has announced its new series, Censorship and Oppression and will be interviewing many who are committed to standing up and speaking out.
It is perfectly natural to be angry and want to change this situation, but I encourage fellow journalist to be inspired and inspiring with the courage to do something about this situation.
It only takes the Power of One to influence another, with a few more leading, to stand up to and speak out against the censorship and oppression intended to instill fear into the masses in order to paralyze democracy as we know it, and chip away at our Bill of Rights. \
Christine Dolan is a seasoned Investigative Journalist, television producer, author, and photographer. She is Co-Founder of American Conversations whose format focuses on in-depth analysis of critical issues about “the story behind the headlines.”