Staff Editorial: The Importance of Investigative Reporting

On Monday, Feb. 13, Michael Flynn resigned from his post as national security adviser to President Trump. In Flynn’s statement in early January to Trump administration officials, Flynn claimed that he had not discussed the U.S. sanctions against Russia for its interference in the last election with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. However, in information leaked to The Washington Post it was revealed that he had given incomplete information about a phone call with Kislyak to the US government. The New York Times also reported on contact between members of the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence officials in the year leading up to the election. On Feb. 13, The Washington Post broke the news that The White House had known since Jan. 26 that Flynn’s account contradicted evidence from recordings of the phone calls, yet Flynn didn’t resign until after the story was published. If not for the reporting of The Washington Post and The New York Times, it is very likely Flynn would still be Trump’s national security adviser.

In the context of these recent leaks regarding Flynn and all of the leaks involved in the most recent presidential election, many have become concerned about the existence of a “deep state” in America. According to The New York Times, a “deep state” is a behind-the-scenes organizational effort to subvert and influence the democratic system in place. Such states exist already in Egypt and Turkey and contribute to political turmoil there. While leaks have happened in the U.S. in the past, the number and frequency of the leaks in the recent past is cause for some concern as to the inner workings of American politics. Since the country is functioning under a president who is using his power of executive order to a severe extent, some officials feel as though leaks are the only way that they can inform the public about what is going on and thereby push their agenda. According to the New York Times, “leaks can also be an emergency brake on policies that officials believe could be ill-advised or unlawful.” Therefore, the news media has a more important job than ever now that the U.S. government is in such conflict.

Perhaps the most famous instance of investigative news reporting that led to resignation was that of the Watergate Scandal. Similarly, now the news networks must report on shady activities going on within the U.S. government in order to effectively check the people in power. Recently, The Washington Post and The New York Times’ investigative reporting in the Flynn scenario led to the resignation of an unacceptable member of President Trump’s staff. It would seem reasonable to expect more leaks to emerge as we continue in the Trump Era. As citizens, we must pay attention to the news and ponder its implications for the future of our country in this time of political turbulence.