TIME Television

Jon Stewart Launches $10 Billion Kickstarter to Buy CNN

Jon Stewart speaks during a taping of "The Daily Show with John Stewart," in New York. in 2012.
Jon Stewart speaks during a taping of "The Daily Show with John Stewart," in New York. in 2012. Carolyn Kaster—AP

Jon Stewart doesn't like the cable news channel and wants to make it better—but he'll need some help raising the funds to buy it

If Rupert Murdoch buys Time Warner, the world’s other great media titan will be there to pick up the scraps.

Jon Stewart said Tuesday on the Daily Show that he is launching a $10 billion Kickstarter campaign to buy CNN. The legacy news station, whose value is reportedly around $10 billion and is a Time Warner company, would likely be up for sale if Rupert Murdoch were successful in his bid to acquire the media conglomerate.

Ten billion dollars?

“It’s a lot of money for anyone,” said Stewart on Tuesday. “But not a lot of money for everyone.

So that’s where the Daily Show host’s campaign comes in. Stewart’s LetsBuyCNN.com mimics a Kickstarter page, though it doesn’t actually allow users to contribute money toward the goal. Hypothetically, a contribution of $1 billion would allow you to host a CNN anchor Hunger Games-style fight to the death.

Worth it? Depends on whether you dislike CNN as much as the Daily Show does.

“CNN, America’s first 24-hour cable news network, has been terrible for many, many years,” LetsBuyCNN.com reads. “Does it have to be that way? Who knows, maybe it does. So let’s find out for ourselves!”

Amen?

TIME Media

Inside the Bizarro World of ‘Russia Today’

James Kirchick on RT. RT

RT never lets such things as basic facts get in the way of crude propaganda.

Last Friday, Sara Firth announced via Twitter that she had resigned as a correspondent for RT, an international, multilingual news network entirely funded by the Russian government. “I couldn’t do it any more,” the London-based reporter told Buzzfeed. “Every single day we’re lying and finding sexier ways to do it.”

Firth’s resignation came a day after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed into the fields of Eastern Ukraine. Aside from Kremlin dissimulators and professional conspiracy theorists (often one and the same), nobody at this point doubts that Russian-backed separatists, using military hardware at the very least provided to them, if not operated, by Russian agents themselves, shot down the plane. Yet watching RT in the aftermath of the disaster, in which all 298 passengers were killed, one would have learned a very different story.

One hypothesis, floated insistently by the RT anchors and guests, was that the Ukrainian military shot down MH17, under the erroneous impression it was actually Vladimir Putin’s presidential jet. Forget the absurdity of accusing the Ukrainians of trying to assassinate the Russian president, thus bringing upon themselves a full-on, open invasion of their country (in contrast to the limited and largely covert operation that the Russians have been waging). As the separatists have not been in command of any planes, the Ukrainian military has not deployed air defenses in the area under contestation.

But RT never lets such things as basic facts get in the way of crude propaganda. In one segment I watched, an RT anchor incessantly asked an aviation expert if it was conceivable that the Ukrainians mistook MH17 for Putin’s due to the fact that both aircraft are painted in red, white and blue. That these are the colors of British Airways, Air France, Aeroflot and untold other national carriers did not give the host pause. Nor did the fact that his hypothesis attributes super-human eyesight to the would-be Ukrainian mass murderers, who must have somehow been able to discern President Putin’s plane from 33,000 feet (the height at which MH17 was flying when it was struck). Finally, if they could detect the colors of the plane’s exterior from such a distance, would they not also be able to see the “Malaysia Airlines” lettering?

It has been an embarrassing year for RT, the network formerly known as Russia Today. Founded in 2005 to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, RT – which broadcasts in English, Arabic and Spanish – aims to counter the influence of what Putin calls the “Anglo-Saxon mass media.” It does so via a poisonous admixture of hysterical anti-Western propaganda, financial alarmism, conspiracy theorizing and the promotion of political extremists from left and right united in hatred of America and liberal democracy.

I had my own run in with RT last August when the network invited me on to discuss the sentencing of Chelsea Manning, the former Army private who leaked hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables to Wikileaks. Donning a pair of rainbow suspenders, I proceeded to protest the recently enacted Russian law prohibiting propagation of “non-traditional sexual relationships to minors.” In March, RT host Abby Martin made headlines when she criticized Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, her mealy-mouthed, morally equivocating 60-second statement newsworthy only in the sense that opinions diverging from the Kremlin line are all but nonexistent on the network. Days later, RT anchor Liz Wahl quit live on-air, citing her grandparents’ fleeing the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary as one of several reasons why she could no longer “be part of a network that whitewashes the actions of Putin.”

A particularly egregious example was the most recent episode of the Truthseeker, an inaptly named program seeing that its host, Daniel Bushell, never finds it. Titled “Genocide in Eastern Ukraine,” the 14-minute segment alleged that the Ukrainian government is conducting a crime on par with the 1994 Rwandan genocide (responsible for 500,000 to 1 million victims), which, for good measure, the United States enthusiastically supported. The Ukrainian government (“the most far-right wing government on the face of the Earth,” a description that far better suits the current Russian regime), whose leaders “repeat Hitler’s genocidal oath,” is “bombing wheat fields to ensure there’s famine,” a perverse claim in light of the Soviet-orchestrated Holodomor, the killing by starvation that took the lives of millions of Ukrainians in 1932 and 1933. The segment featured an interview with crank “historian” William Engdahl, a regular columnist for the virulently anti-Semitic website Veterans Today, where he has suggested that terrorist bombings in Russia earlier this year were conducted by Israel in retribution “for Putin’s role in winning Obama away from war against Syria last fall and openly seeking a diplomatic resolution of the Iran nuclear problem.”

Such ravings are par for the course on RT, but what happened afterwards surprised observers who have grown accustomed to the network’s practice of throwing out an endless stream of indefensible allegations in hopes that some of them will stick in the media ecosystem. Two days after the program aired, RT announced via Twitter that it had removed the episode from its website due to “uncorroborated info.” If this were to be the new standard by which RT determines what material to air, it would have no choice but to shut down altogether.

James Kirchick is a fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative.

TIME Foreign Policy

Russian Television Under Spotlight After Malaysia Airlines Crash in Ukraine

Russia Putin
Employees of RT prepare for a visit from Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on June 11, 2013. Yuri Kochetkov—AP

The crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 exposes the truth about RT, the Russian English-language propaganda outlet

In late 2009, the British journalist Sara Firth became a Russian propaganda mouthpiece.

The decision seemed to make sense at the time. Firth had just earned a postgraduate diploma in investigative journalism when she was offered a role as on-air-correspondent for RT, a Russian television network that is broadcast for foreign audiences in English, Spanish and Arabic. The gig came with an attractive salary, vibrant colleagues and the chance to report big stories in global hotspots. Firth had ambition, a sense of adventure, and a fascination with Russia. She took the job.

Founded in 2005, RT is billed as a counterweight to the bias of Western media outlets. In reality, the broadcast outlet is an unofficial house organ for President Vladimir Putin’s government. Under the guise of journalistic inquiry, it produces agitprop funded by the Russian state, and beams it around the world to nearly 650 million people in more than 100 countries. RT is Russia’s “propaganda bullhorn,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said recently, “deployed to promote President Putin’s fantasy about what is playing out on the ground.”

Firth was no dupe. She knew the politics of her paymasters. “We are lying every single day at RT,” she explained Monday afternoon in a phone interview from England. “There are a million different ways to lie, and I really learned that at RT.”

Since a Malaysian jetliner crashed in a wheat field in eastern Ukraine last week, RT’s pro-Putin packaging has been exposed in grim detail. In the aftermath of the tragedy, which killed all 298 souls on board, the outlet—like the rest of Russian state media—has seemed as if it were reporting on an entirely different crime. As the international media published reports indicating the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists, RT has suggested Ukraine was responsible, cast Moscow as a scapegoat and bemoaned the insensitivity of outlets focusing on the geopolitical consequences of the crime.

For Firth, the coverage was the last straw. She announced her resignation on July 18, as her employer broadcast a flurry of reports that read more like Kremlin press releases. She described a five-year fight to uphold the principles of journalistic integrity in a place where every reporting assignment comes with a “brief” outlining the story’s conclusion. “It’s mass information manipulation,” she says. “They have a very clear idea in their mind of what they’re trying to prove.”

RT is neither the first nor the only outlet that exists to serve the state rather than its citizens. Nearly every major country has a thriving state-sponsored media. (The U.S. funds media organizations like Voice of America and Radio Free Asia that target foreign populations through the Broadcasting Board of Governors.) In Russia, the domestic media have long been lapdogs, and reporters who bite their masters sometimes turn up dead. “The media in Russia are expected to be mouthpieces for power,” says Sarah Oates, a professor of journalism at the University of Maryland who studies the Russian media. “RT follows this model. They’ll mix a little bit of reality with a little bit of smearing, and they’ll steer the viewer into questioning things.”

RT’s motto is “Question More,” which sounds like a worthy credo. In practice, it arranges those questions to light the way to specific answers. The formula is well-honed. RT hires young, telegenic correspondents who speak fluent English and believe, as Firth does, that a flawed media ecosystem benefits when broadcasters challenge the dominant narrative. And it pays them lavishly to report from far-flung battlefields or its gleaming studios. “They want you to be on air looking young, looking sexy, looking fresh. Being a bit quirky,” says Firth. “They’re after impact. They don’t mind too much about the fact checking.”

In the aftermath of the crash last week, the RT machine kicked into overdrive, churning out a steady stream of strange reports. In an effort to implicitly assign blame on the Ukrainians, it noted the proximity of Putin’s own plane. It quoted a Russian defense ministry source asking why a Ukrainian air force jet was detected nearby. And it quoted another anonymous Russian official, who volunteered the juicy claim that a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile was operational in the vicinity at the time of the incident. This is how RT works, explains Firth: by arranging facts to fit a fantasy.

“What they do is a very smart, slick way of manipulating reality,” she says. “In Ukraine, you’re taking a very small part of a much wider story, totally omitted the context of the story, and so what you wind up with on air is outright misinformation.”

Sometimes the end result is anything but slick. In March, a group of alumni and students from the Mohyla School of Journalism in Kiev, along with associated journalists, launched a fact-checking site to chronicle false reporting about the Ukrainian crisis. The site, Stopfake.org, features a long menu of whoppers from Russian media. Among the most egregious, the group’s founder told TIME, is the case of a blond actress who has cropped up in different roles over the course of conflict. The actress, Maria Tsypko, has been interviewed on state TV and identified as separatist camp organizer in Odessa, a political refugee in Sevastopol and an election monitor in Crimea, according to the site. The only thing that never changes is her affection for Mother Russia.

These outlandish flubs are a problem for the Russian propaganda effort, which forks out millions to cloak spin as truth-telling. It’s hard to maintain the illusion when the audience can see the strings and wires behind the scenes. “It’s been a particularly effective means of propaganda, and a very effective voice for the Russian state,” says Oates. “But if you’re going to engage in propaganda, you have to do it well. They have completely embarrassed themselves.”

RT did not respond to an interview request from TIME. According to Firth, you can reliably glean management’s perspective from the opinions they allow their employees to parrot. Many, Firth says, are like herself: committed journalists who thought they could persevere and take advantage of the opportunity to report important stories, the goals of their bosses notwithstanding.

“For five years, you’re kind of fighting against this—and with your colleagues you’re rolling your eyes and making jokes,” she says. “The worst-kept secret is that RT is blatant propaganda. I’m one in a very long line of people who have left for the same reason. Everyone has their breaking point. I wish I had done it sooner. But I didn’t.”

TIME Google

Google Has a Huge New Business You Probably Don’t Know About

Google on iPhone 5
Iain Masterton—Alamy

Selling apps, television shows, e-books, music and games through Google Play is becoming a big business for the tech giant

fortunelogo-blue
This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published atFortune.com.

In five years, Google Play has gone from being an upstart marketplace for mobile phone apps to a mammoth media hub.

On Thursday’s second-quarter earnings call, Google’s GOOGLE INC. GOOG 0.2085% outgoing Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora all-but-said as much. In addition to apps, it now sells now sells digital movies, TV shows and music to the more than one billion people worldwide who own Android phones and tablets.

It “continues to grow at breakneck speed,” Arora said on the call.

Google doesn’t break out numbers for just how well Google Play is doing. But sales have steadily grown into the second largest source of revenues behind the company’s long-standing cash cow, advertising.

Finding alternative sources of revenue is critical to Google as it tries to offset the inevitable slowing growth in its online ad business. Selling apps and entertainment for mobile device can be an important way to keep Wall Street investors happy along with making its operating system more attractive to consumers and device manufacturers.

Citigroup analyst Mark May predicts Google Play’s annual revenues will grow from $1.3 billion in 2013 to $5.2 billion in 2017. Those figures remain a fraction of the $10 billion in iTunes sales Apple reported last year, but Android’s momentum is undeniable.

For the rest of the story, go to Fortune.com.

TIME russia

Russian Media Blame Ukraine For Plane Disaster

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on July 17, 2014.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on July 17, 2014. RIA Novosti—Reuters

One common theory: Ukraine was trying to shoot down Vladimir Putin's plane

In televised comments this morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that responsibility for the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on Thursday lay with “the government of the territory on which it happened.” He stopped short of directly blaming the Ukrainian military for launching the missile – but Russia’s many state-controlled media outlets have been only too happy to do that for him. On Friday morning, as the world tried to make sense of the crash in separatist-controlled Ukraine, the Russian spin machine was already doing damage control. Gruesome images of the wreckage were splashed across this morning’s papers under headlines blaming Kiev for the attack.

“The leadership of Novorossiya considers the destruction of the liner a planned provocation by Kiev,” wrote daily Izvestia, in its lead news story, employing the resurrected term used frequently in Russian media to describe the region of Eastern Ukraine stretching from Odessa to Donbass. Rebel assertions that the plane was hit by a Ukrainian BUK missile ran across the cover of tabloid Tvoi Den under the headline “Echelon of Death.”

The theory that seems to be making the most traction throughout Kremlin-backed media is that the Ukrainian military shot down the passenger jet, either as part of a sinister plan to frame the separatists and galvanize the West against Russia, or alternately, after mistaking the Malaysian jet for a plane transporting Putin, who was on his way back to Moscow from Brazil. Citing the Interfax news agency, Kremlin-funded network RT described the similarity of the flight paths of MH17 and the presidential plane above a split-screen graphic intended to show the visual similarities between the two aircraft. Many Russians have taken to Twitter and Facebook both to voice their sympathy for the victims and often, to echo the theory that it’s all Ukraine’s fault.

Several news sources drew comparisons to 2001, when the Ukrainian military mistakenly shot down a Russian passenger jet over the Black Sea. The accident, which killed 78 people on board, is now being trumpeted as evidence of the Ukrainian military’s culpability in the Malaysia Airlines crash. “According to experts, military equipment used by the Ukrainian army was acquired during the Soviet era, and its use in the course of military operations could lead to a repetition of the tragedy,” wrote Russia’s leading news agency Ria Novosti on Friday.

Leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, the pro-Russian breakaway group that currently controls parts of Eastern Ukraine, as well as purported arms and aeronautical experts like celebrity test pilot Anatoly Kvochur, have been making the rounds on Russian television to attest to the fact that the shooting couldn’t possibly have been the work of the rebels. The rebels themselves, of course, have denied all involvement in the crash, which occurred in territory under their control. At first, the rebels denied possessing the BUK missile launchers believed to have been used in the attack, despite the fact that the news agency of the Russian Ministry of Defense aired a report in June stating that a BUK had been taken by the separatists. Later on Friday, however, a reporter for Russian state-controlled channel Rossiya-24 reported that the militia does possess the launchers, but that they’re “all undergoing repair.” More recently, the rebel claims took a turn for the grotesque, with Donbass separatist commander Igor Strelkov telling militant site Russian Spring that he believes the plane may have been filled with dead bodies before it crashed, saying workers who cleared the site told him the bodies were “stale – [like] people who had died several days ago.”

Yet as the Kremlin advances its narrative, Russia’s small and ever-shrinking pool of independent media outlets have countered with blistering critique. In the independent daily Noviya Gazeta, columnist Pavel Felgenhauer pointed to the probable culpability of the rebel forces and criticized the scramble to dodge blame. “It would be better if the separatists and the Russian authorities would stop lying, fantasizing and ‘making Ukraine take responsibility,’ and would as quickly as possible acknowledge their own guilt insofar as it exists,” he wrote.

Appearing this morning on the independent TV Rain channel, Ukrainian military analyst Dmitry Tymchuk also placed blame for the incident squarely on the Russian government. Since the end of last week, he said, “little green men, that is, Russian servicemen,” had joined the flow of military equipment from Russia to Eastern Ukraine. The rebels and the authorities in Moscow “are busy trying to cover up the tracks of their monstrous crime,” Tymchuk wrote in a post on his own website.

Yet as international consensus mounts that Russia’s role in arming the separatists makes Moscow at least partially accountable for the disaster, the Kremlin is struggling to control the narrative. Early Friday afternoon, Russian watchdog blog Gospravki reported that someone had attempted to alter the Russian Wikipedia entry on the Malaysia Airlines crash from an IP address linked to Kremlin state-media holding VGTRK, changing the assumed perpetrator from “terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic” to “Ukrainian military.” The passage has since been changed to a murky statement that “Russian and Ukrainian authorities, as well as representatives of the self-proclaimed republics of eastern Ukraine, have denied any involvement in the tragedy and blame each other for what happened.”

TIME Media

Jill Abramson to Katie Couric: ‘I Put Out a Terrific News Report’

The ousted editor continues her media tour

Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson continued her postmortem analysis of what went wrong at the newspaper during another interview, this time with Katie Couric at Yahoo News.

Abramson, who was abruptly fired from the Times in May amid grumblings about her “management style,” told Couric that during her tenure she was more interested in the quality of the newspaper than in making sure everyone in the newsroom liked her. “As managing editor for eight years and as executive editor for three years, I put out a terrific news report,” she said. “And led the kind of journalism that I believe in. I am hard-charging, I was certainly aware that some people had already described me as tough. I have high standards…I think a lot of people who worked for me found that inspirational, some people didn’t like it. That is how it is at every news organization that makes a difference.’”

“I can scarcely think of an executive editor of the times that wasn’t described in the same way,” she added.

(MORE: Jill Abramson Insists on Calling Herself “Fired”)

But was her firing about gender? “I think that women are scrutinized and criticized in a somewhat different way and that certain qualities that are seen in men as being the qualities of a leader or ambition as seen as a good thing are somehow not seen in as attractive a light when a woman is involved,” she said. “And I’m hardly the first person to observe that.”

But when Couric attempted to drill down into the gendered aspects of her firing, Abramson said her record at the Times was more important than the details of why she lost her job. “I don’t see gender as being the whole explanation by any means… but it’s somewhat irksome to me to see so much focus on the issue of why was I fired. First of all, let’s be honest, how many people in the real world really care about why Jill Abramson lost her job?”

“I think the amount of attention that’s focused on my last days as opposed to the 11 years that I [ran the New York Times] everyday is just out of proportion,” she added.

 

 

TIME Media

Jill Abramson Insists on Calling Herself ‘Fired’

WIRED Business Conference: Think Bigger
Executive Editor of The New York Times Jill Abramson attends the WIRED Business Conference: Think Bigger at Museum of Jewish Heritage on May 7, 2013 in New York City. Brad Barket—Getty Images

"That's what happened to me, and I've devoted my whole career to truth-telling, so why hide that?"

Jill Abramson insisted Greta Van Susteren call her “fired New York Times editor” in her first television interview Wednesday since her contentious departure from the newspaper in May.

“That’s what happened to me, and I’ve devoted my whole career to truth-telling, so why hide that?” Abramson said on Fox News’s On the Record. “And there are an awful lot of people in this country who, like me, have been fired from their jobs.”

Abramson didn’t assign any specific blame for her firing, but did allude to the whispers that her firing was more about her personal demeanor than professional accomplishments. “It was said because my management style. I was a hard-charging editor, and there were some people who worked for me that didn’t like that style,” she said. “Women in leadership roles are scrutinized constantly and sometimes differently than men…there are certain code words: ‘strident,’ ‘too tough.’”

But she doesn’t think it was only about gender. “Plenty of guys get fired,” she said.

Abramson also observed that “it’s mighty strange going from one day being an editor of stories to being the story, but I think actually it’s healthy for journalists to know what it feels like on the opposite end of the probing and questioning.”

 

TIME Media

Rupert Murdoch Made $80 Billion Offer for Time Warner

Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman of News Corp. and Chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox, attends the Allen & Co. 32nd annual Media and Technology Conference, in Sun Valley, Idaho, July 10, 2014.
Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman of News Corp. and Chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox, attends the Allen & Co. 32nd annual Media and Technology Conference, in Sun Valley, Idaho, July 10, 2014. Gary He—Insider Images/Polaris

Time Warner rejected an offer that could have reshaped the media landscape, the New York Times reports

Updated 9:20am ET

Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate Twenty-First Century Fox admitted Wednesday to making an unsuccessful $80 billion offer in recent weeks to take over Time Warner.

The New York Times reported that Chase Carey, the president of Fox and longtime top deputy to Rupert Murdoch, met with Time Warner’s chief executive Jeff Bewkes in early June.

After the private meeting, Fox reportedly made a formal takeover proposal worth $85 in stock and cash for each Time Warner share, amounting to about a 25 percent premium to Time Warner’s stock price at the time. Time Warner’s board sent Fox a brief letter after discussing the proposal, saying that the company would remain independent.

Fox made a statement Wednesday after the Times reported the proposal: “21st Century Fox can confirm that we made a formal proposal to Time Warner last month to combine the two companies. The Time Warner Board of Directors declined to pursue our proposal. We are not currently in any discussions with Time Warner.”

Time Warner said early Wednesday that there were considerable “strategic, operational, and regulatory risks” to being acquired by Twenty-First Century Fox, adding that rejecting the proposal was in the best interests of its shareholders.

The deal would have effectively put Murdoch at the head of a portfolio of major household media brands, including TNT, TBS, HBO, Warner Brothers, Fox News and others, as well as assets controlled through his company News Corp., like the Wall Street Journal and HarperCollins.

CNN, a subsidiary of Time Warner, would reportedly have been spun off as part of a deal because of possible antitrust concerns, as it competes with Murdoch’s Fox News.

Murdoch has built a global media empire over nearly fifty years that includes television channels, newspapers and studios, often by making deals that were at first rejected.

TIME.com is owned by Time Inc, which was spun off from Time Warner earlier this year.

TIME Media

Bloggers, Surveillance and Obama’s Orwellian State

President Obama Delivers Statement On Veterans Affairs Scandal
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) arrives to make a statement to the news media about the recent problems at the Veterans Affairs Department with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House May 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

Advancements in technology have fueled this White House's obsession with controlling the message.

Jay Carney is free. But not loose – at least so far. After resigning as the press secretary for President Obama on June 20, Carney gave insight into the Obama administration’s handling of classified documents, and responded to criticism that this administration has been the most Orwellian in recent history.

“I know — because I covered them — that this was said of Clinton and Bush, and it will probably be said of the next White House,” said Carney in a recent New York Times Magazine interview. “I think a little perspective is useful…It is a serious, serious matter to leak classified information. Some of the debate around this kind of forgets how serious that is.”

But, it could also be the changing nature of the relationship between the media and the White House. At a recent event at the New America Foundation, journalists and historians challenged Carney, arguing that this White House has been more secret than previous occupants.

“Increasingly, the Obama White House has become so brittle, and so controlling of the message, that people are afraid to respond to me,” said Kimberly Dozier, a former Associated Press reporter. She was one of the journalists whose phone records were obtained by the Department of Justice last spring during its investigation into a leak of classified information about a failed Al-Qaeda plot. The scope of that investigation, some critics said, was unprecedented overreach.

According to ProPublica, the Obama administration has filed eight cases under the Espionage Act, which criminalizes disclosing information harmful to national security. Before the Obama administration, only three known cases had ever been charged under the act.

But some say that the crackdown by the Obama administration is not due to an extraordinary effort, but rather due to advancements in surveillance.

“[Bush administration] lawyers told me that they wanted to prosecute as many leaks then, but technology had not moved on to the point where it is today, where it is so easy to track peoples’ electronic footprint,” said Dozier, who is now a contributing writer at The Daily Beast. “There are simply more tools for the Department of Justice now than they had back then.”

Thom Shanker, the Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times, noted that his employer has implemented rigorous standards to balance the security risks of reporting classified information with the public’s right to know.

“When we reported on WikiLeaks, we had conversations with all of the relevant agencies, and the takeaway is that the American public learned how it was operating,” said Shanker. “We asked then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who was a former C.I.A. director, what he thought about the WikiLeaks story, and he said, ‘As an intelligence professional, I am very upset whenever this happens, but I can tell you that I don’t see any specific damage to our national security programs because of the way the information was handled.’”

But as citizen journalism – people without an official press affiliation reporting on personal blogs – becomes more popular, the way the military and intelligence community is reported on could shift. Random bloggers need not follow the professional standards by which journalists abide.

Matthew Pinsker, a professor of history at Dickinson College, pointed out that this “new” form of journalism is a throwback to previous models that did not value objectivity and impartiality. In some ways, bloggers use the same practices of 19th Century pamphleteers, where anybody with a hand-crank could stand on a corner and shout to a group of people.

If these bloggers can’t hold themselves to the same standards of journalists in the 20th Century, “maybe the Obama administration is justified in pursuing leakers in a harsher way,” Pinsker said.

Regardless, as both the news industry and surveillance technology continue to evolve, the White House will have to work harder to determine which offenses merit harsher tactics – to balance national security interests with respect for the Fourth Estate.

“The government really needs to get its message out to the American people, and it knows that the best way to do that is by using the American news media,” said Shanker. “The relationship between the government and the media is like a marriage; it is a dysfunctional marriage to be sure, but we stay together for the kids.”

Justin Lynch is the Social Media Coordinator at the New America Foundation. Outside of New America, Justin is the Youth Ambassador to the United Nations for Voices of African Mothers, where he works to promote gender equality and educational opportunity in West Africa. This piece appeared originally at The Weekly Wonk.

TIME Culture

How Women Are Doing on TV, According to the Emmys

Actresses Julianna Margulies, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Taylor Schilling.
(L-R) Juliana Margulies, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Taylor Schilling Getty Images (3)

Female actresses are better off doing TV than film

The Emmys are a seriously flawed institution: Great shows get snubbed while flailing ones clean up, and this year is no exception. (You’ll be hard-pressed to find a TV critic who preferred this season of Downton Abbey, which got 12 nominations, to The Americans, which got just one.) Ratings determine what stays on TV, and other awards like the Golden Globes often honor those who are snubbed at the Emmys. So while the nominations released this morning don’t mean everything, they often act as a barometer for how female actors, writers, directors and producers are doing on TV.

A slew of studies released this year revealed that the gender gap in Hollywood is still alive, well and as depressing as ever. But there’s a silver lining: TV is offering women a number of opportunities, including more robust and challenging roles for actresses and more options for those behind the camera. In a Hollywood Reporter roundtable of women on TV this spring, six women that the publication deemed to be “Emmy contenders” spoke about the advantages of working on the small screen.

“The film world is becoming quite flimsy for women,” said Julianna Margulies, star of The Good Wife. “They’re also not scared of women working in television. My unit production manager is a woman, two of my executive producers are women and three of the writers…The hardest thing about being an actor, and especially when you’re a woman trying to also have a family and a relationship, is to maintain some sort of normalcy. With television, you might not be home a lot, but you have a routine.”

“There’s just a deeper level of sophistication in the writing of female characters on TV,” added Vera Farmiga of Bates Motel.

The Emmy nominations prove this year that that’s true. The actress categories were arguably more competitive than ever before. Here’s why this past year was a great one for women on television.

Orange Is the New Black cleans up

Orange Is the New Black, a show with an almost entirely female cast, received 12 nominations. Netflix doesn’t reveal how many people stream its various shows, so while many critics assumed that people were tuning in, skeptics could still make the argument that the female-minded show wouldn’t appeal to men. But a prestigious Emmy nomination proves that the show isn’t just a one-trick pony: Orange Is the New Black actually got better after a well-reviewed first season. And more good news: The establishment is recognizing a show about people who are otherwise marginalized in our society.

The “Ozymandias” episode of Breaking Bad

Moira Walley-Beckett was recognized for penning “Ozymandias,” which many consider to be one of Breaking Bad‘s best episodes. The nomination is not surprising, but it does reinforce the idea that sometimes a testosterone-laden show like Breaking Bad needs a woman’s touch. For those of you who don’t remember, “Ozymandias” was the episode in which Walter stole his baby girl away from his wife and son (before realizing he’s made a mistake and returning her). The heart-wrenching shot of Walter driving madly away with his weeping screaming wife on her knees in the road in the background, calling for her child was simultaneously beautiful, tragic, frightening and liberating. It brought much-needed humanity to the show’s final episodes.

Robin Wright in season 2 of 's "House of Cards." Photo credit: Nathaniel Bell for .
Actress, drama series – Robin Wright, House of Cards
Netflix

Older women get a shot on TV

Most Hollywood insiders would tell you that being an actress over 40 is a death sentence. But not on television. If we look at this year’s female nominees, most are doing some of the best work of their careers as they approach (or exceed) middle age, including Robin Wright (House of Cards, age 48), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife, age 48), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad, age 45), Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey, age 79), Lena Headey (Game of Thrones, age 40), Christine Baranski (The Good Wife, age 62), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie, age 51), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation, age 42), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep, age 53), Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly, age 43), Julie Bowen (Modern Family, age 44), Allison Janney (Mom, age 54) and Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is the New Black, age 59).

Many of these actresses, like Amy Poehler, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Robin Wright, had long and varied careers before even starting to film their current shows.

Of course, a lot of great actresses were overlooked. Keri Russell was snubbed for her performance on The Americans, which many critics agree was the best drama on TV this year. Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany was passed over for a second year in a row despite giving an outstanding while playing several clone characters, all with different personalities. Elizabeth Moss missed out on a nomination for Mad Men after doing some of her best work on the show. And, perhaps most shockingly, The Good Wife, a show that (spoiler alert!) dispatched of its lead male character and now centers on two strong women, did not earn a nomination for best drama. Perhaps the reason is this was a particularly competitive year for women, and overall that’s great news.

One area that could use some improvement is comedy. Girls and Orange Is the New Black are not really comedies in the traditional sense, and Parks and Recreation is rumored to be close to its final season. I confess I haven’t seen either Nurse Jackie or Mike & Molly but Veep is hilarious. More comedies starring women like Louis-Dreyfus would be a great boost to TV. Some potential future contenders include Broad City and Inside Amy Schumer on Comedy Central, which is making a concerted effort to bring more women to its network.

Find out which ladies will actually take home statues when the 2014 Emmys air on August 25, with Seth Meyers hosting.

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