The UK’s Telegraph reports that The Washington Post, afraid of being scooped by The New York Times, decided to publish information it had been holding quiet at the request of the US government concerning drone sites in Saudi Arabia. Whether the revelation has any affect on Saudi Arabia, of course, isn’t the papers’ concern. Earning money is their only goal, so that which might lessen the papers’ incomes becomes categorically bad.

US media kept Saudi drone base secret for two years
Alex Spillius

It only came to light after a blackout on reporting agreed by the media and the Obama administration was broken by two US newspapers.

The revelation that the US has been operating a secret drone base in Saudi Arabia for the past two years came after a blackout on reporting agreed by American media and the Obama administration was broken by two US newspapers.

The first pilotless CIA mission flown from the base killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric and senior figure in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and a deputy in September 2011, reports said.

Another Predator drone strike killed Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman weeks later, though US officials claimed in the Washington Post that he was not the target of the attack.

The Washington Post said several US media organisations knew of the drone base but abided by official requests not to disclose its location because of the risk to counter-terrorism cooperation with Saudi Arabia.

The Post said that when it learned that another news organisation – the New York Times – planned to break the agreement, it decided to publish what it knew.


February:06:2013 - 13:04 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink
2 Responses to “For the Want of a Scoop…”
  1. 1
    Solomon2 Said:
    February:06:2013 - 23:16 

    “Whether the revelation has any affect on Saudi Arabia, of course, isn’t the papers’ concern. Earning money is their only goal, so that which might lessen the papers’ incomes becomes categorically bad.”

    Good heavens John, you worked in press relations for years, don’t you realize that as far as these two papers are concerned your characterization is too simplistic? NYT and especially WP survive and prosper by cultivating confidential sources. As long as the sources provide info to these papers the sources don’t get burned by them – at least not right away, or to the maximum extent possible. While anonymous, it’s easy for experienced Washingtonians to pick them out – sources are usually the parties consistently singled out for praise in news articles.

    For the WP to publish this story, then, sends the message that the Saudis have failed to present themselves as valued sources of gossip. I expect the Saudis will respond with more invites to lavish embassy and official affairs followed by both “exclusive” and private interviews spilling lots of beans, both phony and real.

  2. 2
    John Burgess Said:
    February:07:2013 - 00:52 

    @Solomon2: That’s even more cynical than my explanation. But, as mine has fewer moving parts (See: Occam’s Razor), I’m sticking with mine.

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