Accuracy in Media

New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, broke a story last Saturday on the White House’s curious role in the production of a new Hollywood movie that tells the story of the killing of Osama bin Laden by Navy SEAL Team 6. The movie is set to be released October 12, 2012, conveniently just before the November presidential elections.

The movie’s creators are none other than director Kathryn Bigelow and journalist Mark Boal, whose 2009 movie, “The Hurt Locker,” won six Academy Awards in 2010.

The White House has offered Bigelow and Boal a questionable in-depth look into the mission which ended the terror king’s reign and is getting “top-level access to the most classified mission in history from an administration that has tried to throw more people in jail for leaking classified information than the Bush administration,” according to Dowd.

Predictably, The Washington Post, Reuters and, The Los Angeles Times led their coverage of the story with White House denials of jeopardizing national security. The Politico took a more balanced approach.

According to a Politico article on the matter, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, has written a letter to the CIA and Department of Defense demanding an investigation into the White House role in allowing unprecedented access into the mission and is quoted as saying, “It shouldn’t have been out there that SEAL Team 6 did this, and there have been so many details out there.” King continues, “And now we find out they are cooperating with a movie — what are we doing?”

White House press secretary Jay Carney chimed in on King’s remarks saying, “We do not discuss classified information and I would hope that as we face a continued threat from terrorism, the House Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discuss than a movie.”

King responded saying, “Obviously, I hit a sensitive nerve, what he said was nonsense — there has been so much classified information released over the last 90 days.”

It appears that a double-standard exists when the presidential administration demands that intelligence agencies take painstaking efforts to seal (no pun intended) leaks of classified information and then are held responsible for anything that does end up in the public domain — a mistake that would most likely cost someone’s career — yet the White House can allow journalists and movie directors top-level access into highly secretive information in order to boost the public’s view of a President who is suffering from unfavorable poll numbers just in time for reelection.

“The Administration’s first duty in declassifying material is to provide full reporting to Congress and the American people, in an effort to build public trust through transparency of government.  In contrast, this alleged collaboration belies a desire of transparency in favor of a cinematographic view of history,” King concludes.

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