Why are so many British journalists so cowed by spooks?

Interesting to read this — in a German magazine.

It’s astonishing to see how many Britons blindly and uncritically trust the work of their intelligence service. Some still see the GCHQ as a club of amiable gentlemen in shabby tweed jackets who cracked the Nazis’ Enigma coding machine in World War II. The majority of people instinctively rally round their government on key issues of defense policy, sovereignty and home rule — even though the threat to the “national security” of the United Kingdom emanating from Edward Snowden is nothing more than an allegation at the moment. Those in power in Westminster have become used to journalists deferring to national interests when it comes to intelligence issues.

The spies expect preemptive subservience and discretion from the country’s press, and they often get what they want. There is no other explanation for the matter-of-factness with which government officials and GCHQ employees contacted Guardian Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger to demand the surrender or destruction of hard drives. What is surprising is the self-assurance that led the powerful to believe that none of this would ever come to light. According to the newspaper, after the hard drives had been destroyed in the Guardian’s basement, an intelligence agent joked: “We can call off the black helicopters.”

Those words reflect the government’s need for chummy proximity. Journalists must avoid such attempts at ingratiation from the powerful, even if it means that they are occasionally denied information and exclusive stories from intelligence sources.

Yep. It’s all part of British elites’ inability to get rid of Imperial afterglow. And it’s also why so many journalists are hostile to people like Glenn Greenwald and Wikileaks. They view them as uncredentialled interlopers on their precious professional turf.

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