- Democratic officials began using the phrase “speak truth to power” to applaud DNI Dan Coats while insinuating that incoming DNI John Ratcliffe may not uphold this standard.
- Multiple media outlets parroted this phrase, including it in articles that applauded Coats and quoted those who have reservations regarding Ratcliffe.
- “Speak truth to power” is one of the standards of the Intelligence Committee, according to its website.
Multiple Democrats and media outlets parroted the same exact phrase after President Donald Trump would replace Republican Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe to be the new Director of National Intelligence (DNI).
Trump tweeted Sunday that Ratcliffe will become the new DNI as Dan Coats prepares to resign. Democrats used the phrase “speak truth to power,” a piece of the principles of professional ethics for the intelligence community, to praise Coats and condemn Ratcliffe. Outlets such as the Washington Post, the Atlantic and the New York Times have used the phrase as well in similar ways.
“Our Director of National Intelligence should be above partisan politics, speak truth to power, and resist Trump’s abuses of authority. John Ratcliffe doesn’t fit that bill,” Warren tweeted Sunday. She linked to an Atlantic article that also used the phrase to talk Coats up:
Coats was in a difficult position from the moment he took the job—leading a workforce that holds telling “truth to power” as an ideal while at the same time reporting to a boss whom an ally once accused of creating a “reality-distortion field” around himself.
Media outlets such as the Washington Post wrote this same talking point as a way to show that Coats spoke truth to power.
WaPo wrote that Ratcliffe “has made his name in Congress as one of the GOP’s most dogged critics of perceived anti-Trump bias at the FBI and in the special counsel’s investigation of his alleged Russia ties.”
Andrew deGrandpre, the Deputy National Security editor at Wapo, tweeted out a link to the article and quoted the phrase.
“The mission of the intelligence community is to speak truth to power.” https://t.co/uZq8Nunrvq
— Andrew deGrandpre (@adegrandpre) July 29, 2019
CNN also tweeted out a clip of CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield, where “CNN national security analyst Shawn Turner says Dan Coats ‘spoke truth to power,’ oftentimes putting ‘him at odds with the President,’” the tweet read.
“Coats has done a phenomenal job as director of national intelligence,” CNN’s tweet also read. The tweet did not include any comment on Ratcliffe.
“Coats has done a phenomenal job as director of national intelligence.” CNN national security analyst Shawn Turner says Dan Coats “spoke truth to power,” oftentimes putting “him at odds with the President.” https://t.co/4NMv0g1qh6 pic.twitter.com/5hgI4KREbz
— CNN (@CNN) July 28, 2019
Andrea Mitchell, host of MSNBC‘s Andrea Mitchell Reports, tweeted out a comment from MSNBC’s Ben Rhodes, who stated that not having “intel people who can speak truth to power” will result in poor decisions, referring to Trump.
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) July 29, 2019
“I think this should be a tough confirmation process because I don’t think this is the type of person you want in that position,” a following tweet quoting Rhodes read.
The New York Times titled its article “Dan Coats to Step Down as Intelligence Chief; Trump Picks Loyalist for Job.” The article included quotes from two former IC directors using the phrase “truth to power” to both applaud Coats and Put Ratcliffe down. The third quote was from Virginia Sen. Mark Warner. None of the quotes included praised Ratcliffe. One quote read:
“The ability to tell truth to power was the traditional qualification for the director of national intelligence. More recently, sucking up to power seems to be what is expected,” said Dennis R. Blair, another former director under former President Barack Obama, according to the NYT.
“Speak truth to power” is the only phrase in the code that has been parroted verbatim to condemn Ratcliffe and praise Coats.
Many referred to Coats as embodying this phrase and others, such as Warren, used it to state that Ratcliffe did not embody the policy.
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