When journalists try to take on the role of law enforcement, they not only blur boundaries but also harm the struggling journalism industry. The New York Times, Bellingcat, and WaPo went to great lengths to uncover the identity of Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman who leaked US intelligence documents via an online gaming chat group. This is not the job of journalists but rather that of the security apparatus. The three aforementioned media outlets effectively become an extension of the state’s power.
The Pentagon leaks have brought to light information that certain parties wanted to keep hidden from the American public. These leaks are especially significant as they reveal the United States’ involvement in foreign wars and the presence of US forces on the ground without the approval of Congress.
However, rather than fulfilling their role as independent watchdogs and highlighting the essential public interest aspects of the leaks, The New York Times, Bellingcat, and WaPo have exceeded their professional limits. They have taken part in law enforcement activities and essentially acted as the State’s lap dogs, embarking on a “Catch the Thief” journey.
When journalists act as law enforcement officers, they risk being co-opted by the government and becoming an extension of the state’s power. This not only undermines their role as independent watchdogs but also threatens freedom of the press. It’s a turning point when a journalist becomes nothing but a tool of the government. Such behavior could lead to a chilling effect on press freedom and a loss of public trust in the media.
To obtain a top-secret security clearance, one has to sign a lifetime binding NDA. Leakers may face serious repercussions for their actions, and journalists should not be the ones responsible for exposing them. While journalists may cast their moral judgment, it is not up to the fourth estate to enforce the law. Jack Teixeira is not even a civilian but a subject to military law, and there are established mechanisms in place to address any breach of the security clearance he had.
Journalists should remain within the boundaries of their profession
The ethical concern for journalism is obvious. Journalists, by the nature of their work, have an ethical responsibility to maintain objectivity and impartiality in reporting. When they engage in law enforcement activities such as identifying leakers, they risk compromising their impartiality and credibility, thereby undermining the public’s trust in the media.
The issue arises from the blurred lines between journalism and national security, which is becoming a systematic problem in the American media landscape, and it is crucial to separate the two. Those who aspire to work in law enforcement and intelligence should pursue that career path and quit journalism.
Journalists should remain within the boundaries of their profession, which is to report and inform the public. National security agencies have their own resources and methods for identifying and dealing with leaks. It is not the job of journalists to assist them in this regard. By engaging in activities such as identifying leakers, they risk overstepping their professional boundaries and blurring the lines between journalism and law enforcement.
If national security agencies require journalists to do their job, then they are failing at their work. Journalists should not be assisting in identifying a leaker. While opinions may differ on Pentagon leaks and Jack Teixeira’s actions, it is clear that they fall outside the scope of journalism.
The Washington Post, New York Times, and Bellingcat acted as a helping hand to the security apparatus, blurring the lines between journalism and law enforcement, which is concerning. Journalists should not function as law enforcement officers.
National Guardsman Teixeira To Remain Behind Bars Until Next Hearing Following Charges Of Classified Pentagon Leaks
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