In refusing to publish Ukraine leaks, major media shows its job is to serve government first

Fox News ‘has agreed, along with other news organizations, not to publish the leaked highly classified documents.’

When whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers over a half-century ago, that act helped change American minds and policy regarding the Vietnam War.

“After The New York Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers on Sunday, June 13, 1971, the nation was stunned,” the New York Times reported on the 50th anniversary of the leak in 2021. “The response ranged from horror to anger to disbelief. There was furor over the betrayal of national secrets. Opponents of the war felt vindicated.”

When Ellsberg handed the Pentagon Papers over to journalists, President Richard Nixon’s White House pursued prior restraint injunctions to try and literally stop the press from printing this story. Yet 19 major papers defied the federal government and published the papers anyway.

In a free and democratic society, that is what the press does. It informs the people. Real journalism means challenging the government, not protecting or parroting them. But that kind of true journalism seems a lot rarer these days.

When alleged internal Pentagon notes on the Ukraine conflict were recently leaked, the U.S. government, true to form, discouraged news outlets from running the story.

These documents do bring some new information to light, including that Ukraine is not in a position of strength in its war with Russia and they outline just how involved the U.S. actually is in the operation of the conflict. On both counts, this contradicts the narrative many in establishment media have presented.

So, when the government said this week ‘please don’t spread this news to the people’ some major news outlets said ‘yes sir!’

Fox News’ national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin told viewers this leak “could be worse than Edward Snowden” and that Fox News “has agreed, along with other news organizations, not to publish the leaked highly classified documents.”

Don’t worry, Pentagon! Fox News has your back!

Griffin said the leaks contained “sensitive information.” Many said that about Ellsberg’s leak, too.

Over on MSNBC, they brought a retired CIA officer on air to say the government just needs to “catch the traitor” who leaked the information.

Some even wondered (how could you not?) if times had drastically changed regarding the media’s relationship with the government.

Vietnam was not the same war as the current Ukraine conflict. As horrible as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been, it still does not touch the lives of Americans in the direct way Vietnam did. 

However, and some of the leaks further reveal this, the U.S. is deeply involved in the Ukraine war, both financially and politically. At BASEDPolitics, we often describe it as a U.S. proxy war with Russia because that’s what it is.

What U.S. and Ukrainian officials have said about the war run contrary to what some of these leaks have revealed, in the same way the Pentagon Papers undermined the federal government’s narrative on Vietnam 50 years ago.

But major news outlets back then defied the government and published the leaks. Now Fox News and others not only refuse to publish these revelations, their coverage often sounds like they’re running cover for the U.S. government more than servicing their viewers.

Today, compared to the early 1970s, we live in the age of the internet and social media, where you can find most of these leaks fairly easily. But that’s not the point.

What do major media institutions see their role as in 2023? Because for many of them, it doesn’t seem remotely close to how the New York Times and other papers saw their role in 1971.

An ethical and robust free press is not supposed to sound like the White House’s comms department. There is a reason independent journalism is rising, and it’s due in large part to the establishment media no longer even understanding what journalism is.

Like this article? Check out the latest BASEDPolitics podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or below:

YouTube player

Sign up for Our Email List

* indicates required
*By signing up for our email you consent to getting our emails directly in your inbox. These including our newsletter or other informational emails*

Our Latest Podcast

Related articles

Rand Paul: Why did the Left abandon its defense of free speech?

Rand Paul asked a great question. The answer is simple:...

Dr. Fauci set for dramatic showdown in Congress

Go ahead and pencil January 8th and 9th into...

Javier Milei proved that libertarian populism can win

In 2008 and 2012, Republican Congressman Ron Paul ran...

Don’t fall for ‘woke’ misinformation about the origins of Thanksgiving

Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving ? Woke social media activists, apparently. Every time this...
Jack Hunter
Jack Hunter
Jack Hunter is a freelance writer, the co-author of Sen. Rand Paul’s 2011 book ‘The Tea Party Goes to Washington’ and the former politics editor for