Shooting the messenger often does becomes a reality both literally and figuratively. In today’s media culture, journalists have been taken to task for reporting news that is displeasing to certain groups and officials.
The need for messengers to relay news goes back to early history, before modern day technology. In times of early battles, messengers were sent on horseback to pass on much-needed information both good and bad. When the envoy became the bearer of bad news, he was often faulted for the actual deed, resulting in the shooting of the messenger becoming reality.
Shooting the Reporter of the Message
Shooting the messenger may be seen as a metaphoric phrase, but in some instances, it has been an actual occurrence. This is the case that many journalists face today, reporting sensitive news. Even when creating paper trails, tracking down evidence, resources, and informants, words can be twisted around shooting back at the reporter to discredit.
People choose to believe what they want, or sometimes, what they are manipulated to believe. When a reputable reporter breaks a news story, it is after an account of endless research and interviewing of informants for statements that can be corroborated, to report the truth. The truth can hurt and when powerful people are outed they can end up shooting back.
Conspiracy theories are used as the weapon of choice in discrediting the person accounting the story. Those hurt by the report will release propaganda as their shooting method. Information will be produced to unravel any facts that the journalist reports, forcing the questioning of the reporter and leading to dishonor.
Shooting, using a conspiracy theory for bullets, seeks to kill the simple facts detailed by the reporter, and in turn, makes the reputation of the reporter the story. Conspirators are shooting the messenger by changing the words and discrediting the journalist.
Conspiracy Theory as Method for Shooting the Messenger
Conspirators work under the radar so legalities are a non-issue. Investigative journalists do not just battle the enemy in war-torn countries, but the enemy from the home turf government is shooting at them as well. A journalist is the carrier of the news. If someone disagrees with the facts of the story, shooting of the messenger takes place in attack, instead of the villains.
This is certainly seen as fact when state agencies make deals with corporate, and other interests for the good of government officials, and not necessarily for the public. These agencies must protect those interests by fabricating stories against any reports detailing the truth. To figuratively allow for the shooting of the messenger, it is said, the Pentagon actually has an annual propaganda budget of half a billion dollars.
Reporters delving into government rules and laws, seeking to convey the truth, can find themselves caught in a shooting trap contrived by those same entities. When the government becomes the enemy, shooting, how can the people trust that agency to investigate themselves. This has certainly become evident in the administration of President Donald Trump.
White House Is Shooting the Messenger
Michael Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Adviser, stepped down in February 2017, amid a scandal involving a call with the ambassador from Russia. Leaks disclosed that White House administrators were lied to regarding Flynn’s scope of conversations he had with a Russian representative.
Although it was reported the White House was informed by the Justice Department regarding the Flynn and Russia ties, Trump insisted that he never heard of any account. To curb the story that could lead to the president himself, House Republicans stated they would not investigate Flynn. Republican House Intelligence Committee Chair David Nunes added that conversations between Trump and Flynn would not be considered either, citing executive privilege.
Although wrongdoing was shown, the Trump administration turned it into a conspiracy theory shooting the messenger by accusing the FBI of leaking the story to the press. Nunes stated, he wanted answers as to why Flynn’s calls with the Russian envoy were being recorded in the first place.
The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.
Trump turned the Flynn story around shooting the media as the messenger. He specifically told CBS News, “Gen. Flynn is a wonderful man — I think he’s been treated very, very unfairly by the media.” He remarked how biased it was that documents regarding Flynn were leaked illegally, but never commented on the accusations Flynn illegally discussed U.S. sanctions with the envoy from Russia.
The president created a conspiracy theory, shooting at the media that for reporting fake news, as well as covering up for Hillary Clinton’s election loss.
People are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton.
Shooting the Messenger for Reporting the Truth
The reporter, as the messenger of news, does his or her job by getting the facts to the people. There is so much concern for the rights of criminals and due process, but what about the ones reporting the facts about those criminals. Due Process for reporters does not seem to exist when the government chooses to attack them to bury a truthful story.
This was certainly the truth with the story of journalist Gary Webb, the reporter that the movie, “Kill the Messenger,” is based on. Webb was given official Department of Justice papers with Grand Jury transcripts from an informant documenting the linking of the CIA to drug traffickers in the 1990s. It is with these, he formed a trail of informants documenting the Contra-cocaine scandal.
Webb releases his three-part story among much praise, which is soon retracted, as the government conspires to discredit him. It was the mainstream media, being fueled by the government, seeking to cover-up the story, that did the shooting of the messenger. Webb never worked again as a journalist and tragically was found dead by two gunshots to the head.
Perhaps the most telling scene in the movie reveals the truth regarding the term, shooting the messenger. In the middle of the night, Webb is visited by an unnamed CIA source, known as John Cullen. Cullen insists Webb not turn on the lights to reveal his identity. He simply wants to relay his message:
I was recruited by the agency, out of college. I knew Spanish and law, and I wanted to do good. I wanted to fight some evil empire. I went to Central America. Made nice with radicals. Slept with some of the pretty ones – and turned in names. Then I started noticing that they were disappearing – permanently. The people that we hunted – murdered. All they had was a deep desire to reform the government and have free elections. That’s it. I’m confessing. Who else am I going to tell?
Webb was killed in several ways. Shooting the messenger certainly became his reality when the government controversializes him to discredit and to kill the story. Webb became the story instead, by changing his words and shaming him. Authorities deemed his death a suicide, but did the shooting of the messenger become a cover-up of the actual reason for the death of the messenger?
Opinion News by Carol Ruth Weber
Global Research: Shooting the Messenger, The Last Bastions of Independent Thought
Vox: Top GOP investigators on the Hill say they won’t investigate Michael Flynn
Los Angeles Times: Trump wants to boost defense spending by 10% and cut social spending
IMDb: Kill the Messenger
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