Here’s where a recent story in The New York Times got its information: “American officials said … officials said … several officials said … American officials acknowledge … Western officials say … a Western official said …”
And here’s where you’re getting the news if you read The Washington Post: “according to senior American and Persian Gulf officials … officials said … was described by the officials … The officials, however, did not rule out … Saudi and U.S. officials described … a senior administration official said …”
Much of the U.S. media might as well as be named “Official Sources Say.” And by using their standard method of newsgathering — calling up powerful people and writing down what they’re told — the media has been a key accomplice to the invasion of Iraq (cost: $5 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives), the collapse of the U.S. economy ($6.5 trillion in lost output) and numberless smaller catastrophes.
The Intercept created this new blog to do the opposite: to tell the unofficial story, one that describes the reality of U.S. politics as accurately as we possibly can. We believe the awful truth is out there, it’s just not at background briefings by the National Security Council.
Unofficial Sources will tell you everything about the political and economic corruption that’s stealing money, power and hope from ordinary citizens — corruption centered in Washington, D.C. but oozing into every nook and cranny of the country. We’ll take you on a backstage tour of the national security/surveillance state. We’ll make sure hypocrisy and lies are the headline, rather than the 34th paragraph.
We’ll dissect the rackets being run on us by the government in collusion with business, business in collusion with the government, and the media in collusion with both of them. And we’ll stick up for the principle that if you’re powerful and you hurt regular people, you should be held accountable, something that now seems as old-timey as a rotary telephone.
We’ll look for mid-level bureaucrats trying to tell the truth, and put out a welcome mat for unhappy system administrators and bank whistleblowers. We’ll read mind-numbing government procurement contracts and grudgingly-released financial disclosure forms. We’ll listen to two-hour corporate earnings calls.
Then we’ll pull it all together in a way that normal human beings can understand and actually enjoy. As John Oliver has said, the people who run the United States have figured out that “if you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.” We’ll slice off the boring camouflage and show you the gaudy, entertaining evil within. (Once we’ve laid out our case, of course, we’ll let official sources have their say, if they’ll ever return our phone calls.)
And we won’t cover a story once and then go away. With your help, we plan to keep pounding on powerful institutions until they’re forced to respond and shape up. Two hundred and forty-one years ago the Continental Congress explained that the whole point of having freedom of the press was so that “oppressive officers are shamed or intimidated into more honorable and just modes of conducting affairs.”