GLENN GREENWALD: The Same Establishment Playbook is Used to Malign the Character of Leakers and Distract Attention From the Substance of the Revelations.

On a virtually daily basis, one can find authorized leaks in The New York Times, The Washington Post, on CNN and NBC News: meaning stories dressed up as leaks from anonymous sources that are, in fact, nothing more than messaging assertions that the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security and the Pentagon have instructed these subservient media corporations to disseminate. When that happens, the leaker is never found or punished: even when the leaks are designated as the most serious crimes under the U.S. criminal code, such as when The Washington Post‘s long-time CIA spokesman David Ignatius in early 2017 published the contents of the intercepted phone calls between Trump’s incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Most of Russiagate was constructed based on authorized leaks, a generous way of describing official propaganda from the U.S. Security State laundered in the American corporate press.

But when it comes to unauthorized leaks — which result in the disclosure of secret evidence showing that the U.S. Security State lied, acted corruptly, or broke laws — that is when the full weight of establishment power comes crashing down on the head of the leaker. They are found and arrested. Their character is destroyed. And now — in a new and genuinely shocking escalation — it is the largest media corporations themselves, such as the Times and the Post, that actually do the FBI’s work by hunting down the leaker, exposing him, and ensuring his arrest.

This playback is always used in such cases and is easily recognized. The point is to shift attention from the substance of the embarrassing and incriminating disclosures onto the personal traits of the person who exposed them, so as to make the public forget about what they learned and come to see the leaker as so unlikable that they want nothing to do with the disclosures themselves.

I’m so old, I can remember when whistleblowers and leakers were the stuff of legend in the media: