Following the late January guilty verdicts in the espionage trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, more proof emerged – if any more were needed – that many elite mainstream journalists abhor whistleblowers and think they should go to prison when they divulge classified information.
One would think that a business that has relied on confidential informants for some of the major investigative stories of this and the previous century would applaud whistleblowers who risk everything on behalf of the people’s right to know what its government is doing in the shadows. But looking back at cases over the last five years, we see the unedifying spectacle of some of the nation’s best-known print and broadcast journalists venting their outrage at whistleblowers’ disclosures and expressing their preference for being kept in the dark by the government in the name of national security.
Most recently, Walter Pincus of The Washington Post, and an opinion writer for The Economist both weighed in critically against Sterling after his conviction. Pincus also strongly defended the integrity of the Operation Merlin program – details of which Sterling was accused of leaking to New York Times reporter James Risen – and contended that Risen gave an erroneous portrayal of portions of the program in his 2006 book “State of War.” (More about these later.)
Sterling, who has never admitted leaking any classified information, nevertheless with his conviction joined the ranks of those whistleblowers and conduits for whistleblowers who have come under fire from prominent journalists for disclosing classified information to the press – e.g., Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, Edward Snowden, John Kiriakou, and others.