Instead of the cut and paste reporting so prevalent in the mainstream media today—oh, and the rank speculation, coward phrasing of “some say”—the press has abdicated about 25% of its active reporting duties to simply commenting on whatever the latest Wikileaks dump says.
This strategy, designed to keep the story alive over time, has backfired.
In this day and age, you don’t have that long to capture people’s attention. If there was something worthy of the comparison to the Pentagon Papers in this massive database, where is it? If it’s so important, why is it being withheld? That certainly isn’t consistent with the stated goal of WikiLeaks, which is to change “regimes” behavior.
The truth is, there is nothing really that shocking in the cables. The story is that they got out, and got out so easy. That and the story of Julian Assange, the latest Technomessiah. While I find the security crowd’s condemnation of the leaks as so much kabuki, they really haven’t lost anything.
All of the information released so fat is out there for anyone to find out. Is “Israel Sought To Counter Influence of Iran” breaking news? No, I think what offends the Gang of 500 is that this information is now quickly, searchable to any proletarian idiot. It’s hard not to see why this might be a problem considering how little information it takes to start a conspiracy theory or make a campaign ad. Most of the time, the publicity of information bothers few. It isn’t some wall of secrecy being pierced that upsets, rather the cross-over into the mainstream consciousness of even those marginally interested in the news. If it’s on The View, SNL, any late night show or any morning zoo radio show, it’s too public. If every Ph.D. in the subject area knows what’s up, it’s not.
But this cross-over has more or less stopped. The public is bored of it already. Which means that it won’t change a damn thing except to make future leaks that might actually change the direction of the country on something less likely. And the fact that even Daniel Ellsberg himself compares this to what he did is shocking. The Pentagon Papers, more or less, ended the Vietnam war and, less proximately, played a huge factor in the series of events that led to the downfall of the Nixon administration.
Wikileads probably won’t even claim the head of a single political nominee in the State Department.
Of course, we didn’t need Wikileaks to know that the Bush administration committed war crimes, outed a CIA agent’s cover who was working on nuclear non-proliferation, used the office of the U.S. attorneys to target political enemies, started a war based on fraud, destroyed the U.S. economy, watched a major American city be destroyed, ignored warnings about 9/11, tortured, appointed hack judges to enable unlimited corporate cash into politics, did nothing to stop a wave of perversion and corruption in the U.S. Congress, encouraged voter intimidation and suppression, all while coming to power by stealing an election. None of these revelations, not even Abu Ghraib, led to anything other than brief political consequences.
Nothing happened. What makes you think that a bunch of news articles taking people who pay attention to issues for babes in the woods will do anything?