Someone should tell ABC News what "exclusive" means

Establishment media outlets frequently copy from blogs and other alternative sources and claim credit for the story.

Published October 31, 2008 12:11PM (EDT)

(updated below)

On October 26 -- 5 days ago -- Joshua Landis wrote on his blog, Syria Comment, about the U.S. bombing raid inside Syria, and said this (h/t Andrew Sullivan):

The Bush administration seems to be ratcheting up action against Syria during its last days in power. . . In late 2007 then-Coalition commander General David Petraeus praised Syria’s cooperation in reducing violence in Iraq . . . . Petraeus sought to go to Damascus in December 2007 to restart intelligence sharing, but was forbidden from doing so by the White House.

Today, ABC News is loudly touting what it claims is an "EXCLUSIVE" (h/t sysprog):  

ABC News has learned, Petraeus proposed visiting Syria shortly after taking over as the top U.S. commander for the Middle East.

The idea was swiftly rejected by Bush administration officials at the White House, State Department and the Pentagon.

ABC's so-called "exclusive" story today was reported, almost verbatim, by Jonathan Landis, on his blog, five days ago.  This happens quite frequently.  

Earlier this month, ABC News touted even more loudly what it claimed was an "exclusive" -- that former NSA employees have said that the NSA routinely eavesdropped on the personal conversations of Americans calling to the U.S. from Iraq.  In fact, that "exclusive" story was nothing of the sort, as one of the NSA employees on whom ABC relied -- Army Sgt. Adrienne Kinne -- was interviewed on Democracy Now by Amy Goodman five months earlier, where Kinne made all of the same revelations (and more).

There's this strange, self-serving "standard" used by establishment media outlets which provides that while they must credit one another when citing stories that they report, they are free to duplicate or just copy from non-establishment media outlets and can pretend that it's original or "exclusive" to them.  Certain cable news shows frequently copy wholesale from blogs in their stories without any credit -- something that never happens when they copy from other establishment outlets.  That sort of uncredited copying is perhaps impolite though not particularly significant.  But claiming "exclusivity" for a story that others have worked on and previously reported is just highly misleading.


UPDATE:  Actually, as David Swanson documents here, he was the one who broke the NSA/Adrienne Kinne story, in this July, 2007 post -- more than a full year before ABC News' self-proclaimed "exclusive."

By Glenn Greenwald

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