Established newspapers like the New York Times, The Washington Post and the Financial Times play a crucial sociological role in deciding which information is important and trustworthy, and which is not. When one of these newspapers publishes information, it is legitimated as knowledge — which people are not only more likely to take seriously themselves, but may have to take seriously, because they know that other people are taking it seriously.
Assange and Wikileaks figured out some version of this early on. This is why they started working together with major newspapers such as the Guardian and New York Times — because this was the only way that they could get people to systematically pay attention to the information they had uncovered, and to turn that information into knowledge that everyone accepted. Unsurprisingly, however, this relationship turned out to be very difficult. Newspapers — even the most pioneering ones — have political relationships with governments, which make them nervous about publishing (and hence validating) certain kinds of information. This also helps explain the awkwardness that many journalists express toward Greenwald. While they recognize that he has uncovered many valuable scoops, they don’t see him as bounded by the same rules as they are.
This is about as naked an admission of the truth about mainstream journalism as I can imagine.
WaPo, NYT, FT, and other MSM players determine the legitimacy of news, yet at the same time they are under the thumbs of the governments they are supposed to be reporting on.
In other words, the governments themselves are determining what is, and isn’t news, because they determine the rules MSM reporters operate under. This is nothing new, of course, and nothing anybody who has been paying attention hasn’t long understood.
I’m just surprised to see a representative of the MSM admitting it so openly, and in the pages of the Washington Post, no less.