Suspicious as they are of American intentions, and bolstered by court rulings that seem to give them license to seek out and publish any and all government secrets, the media‘s distrust of our government, combined with their limited understanding of the world at large, damages our ability to design and conduct good policy in ways that the media rarely imagine.
The leak through which sensitive information flows from the government to the press is detrimental to policy in so far as it almost completely precludes the possibility of serious discussion. The fear that anything they say, even in what is construed as a private forum, may appear in print, makes many people, whether our own government officials or the leaders of foreign countries, unwilling to speak their minds.
Must we be content with the restriction of our leaders‘ policy discussions to a handful of people who trust each other, thus limiting the richness and variety of ideas that could be brought forward through a larger group because of the nearly endemic nature of this problem? It is vitally important for the leaders of the United States to know the real state of affairs internationally, and this can occur only if foreign leaders feel free to speak their minds to our diplomats.
Until recently, it looked as if the media had convinced the public that journalists were more reliable than the government; however, this may be changing. With the passage of time, the media have lost lustre. They—having grown large and powerful—provoke the same public skepticism that other large institutions in the society do. A series of media scandals has contributed to this. Many Americans have concluded that the media are no more credible than the government, and public opinion surveys reflect much ambivalence about the press.
While leaks are generally defended by media officials on the grounds of the public‘s ―right to know,‖ in reality they are part of the Washington political power game, as well as part of the policy process. The "leaker" may be currying favour with the media, or may be planting information to influence policy. In the first case, he is helping himself by enhancing the prestige of a journalist; in the second, he is using the media as a stage for his preferred policies. In either instance, it closes the circle: the leak begins with a political motive, is advanced by a politicized media, and continues because of politics. Although some of the journalists think they are doing the work, they are more often than not instruments of the process, not prime movers. The media must be held accountable for their activities, just like every other significant institution in our society, and the media must be forced to earn the public‘s trust.
1. Based on the information in the passage, with which of the following statements would the author most likely agree?
A. Feeding the public misinformation is warranted in certain situations.
B. The public has a right to know the real state of foreign affairs.
C. The fewer the number of people involved in policy discussions, the better.
D. Leaders give up their right to privacy when they are elected.
E. The media is not accountable to the public
2. Implicit in the author‘s argument that leaks result in far more limited and unreliable policy discussions with foreign leaders is the idea that:
A. leaks should be considered breaches of trust and therefore immoral.
B. leaks have occurred throughout the history of politics.
C. foreign and U.S. leaders discussed policy without inhibition before the rise of the mass media.
D. leaders fear the public would react negatively if it knew the real state of affairs.
E. it is best to keep the media in the dark
3. What is the main idea of the passage?
A. to argue that the media is acting against the national interests.
B. to convince that journalists are attempting to enhance their own prestige.
C. to discuss the negative effects that media ―leaks‖ have on foreign policy and the media‘s credibility.
D. to criticise politicians for being dishonest in public.
E. to suggest that the media needs to be regulated more strongly and effectively.
4. Based on the passage, when the media now challenge the actions of a public official, the public assumes that:
A. the official is always wrong.
B. the media is always wrong.
C. the media may be wrong.
D. the official and the media may both be wrong.
E. the public ignores this piece of news completely