Earlier, I raised the question of whether spies are useful given that you cannot fully trust them.
The other night, I realized that much of what spies did for monarchs in the past is now done by the media. Rather than having a person in a foreign capital who you trust to relay current information, you can count on a vast media apparatus doing so in a reasonably open and effective way. The media is better than a spy because they have more resources and are unlikely to be feeding false information specifically to you (though they do get things wrong at times).
Indeed, it is a fair bet that most of the fantastic volume of reports produced by America’s new intelligence apparatus are primarily recycled from unclassified news sources and the internet.