Secrets about Secrets: The Backstage Conversations between Press and Government

By Allan M. Siegal

A paper by Allan M. Siegal, fall 2006 fellow, argues that while mainstream journalists almost uniformly advocate self-restraint on sensitive intelligence and military secrets, press and government are clearly unable to agree on definitions of “sensitive.” This paper examines vetting arrangements described by journalists and capsule case histories of both agreement and refusal to withhold information. The examples, nearly all from the post-9/11 period, demonstrate that consultation is indeed commonplace – but they also illustrate premises on which government and media talk past each other.

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