Your American Media At Work
Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 30, 2007
(Guess which one of these DC prostitutes once had a White House press pass?)
Pull up a chair, grab the beverage of your choice, and settle in for a bit. This will take a while:
— Jon Aravosis catches the AP pulling yet another Pravda on Bush’s behalf:
Why does the media insist on repeating as truth whatever crap the Bush administration tells them? Yes, AP just published a story saying that military leaders now claim, magically, that the budget impasse over Iraq will hurt our troops right now (I’m not linking to the story – won’t give the Bushies what they want, and sure as hell am not giving the AP’s yellow journalism any publicity). Too bad that we already know this to be a total lie. And too bad that AP reporter Lolita Baldor didn’t even bother putting in her story the fact that we already know DOD has enough money to last it a good several months.
[PW adds: For more debunked Iraq bill myths, go here.]
— Here’s how we know that the Deborah Jeane Palfrey story is really scaring the Republicans and the Bush White House: ABC’s Brian Ross, who helped TPM (now ABC) journo Justin Rood break the Palfrey news, apparently feels the need to throw up some Republican-appeasing “balance”, in the form of yet another totally untrue “But Democrats do it tooooo!” story.
— Frank Rich gets it right:
Somehow it’s hard to imagine David Halberstam yukking it up with Alberto Gonzales, Paul Wolfowitz and two discarded “American Idol” contestants at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Before there was a Woodward and Bernstein, there was Halberstam, still not yet 30 in the early 1960s, calling those in power to account for lying about our “progress” in Vietnam. He did so even though J.F.K. told the publisher of The Times, “I wish like hell that you’d get Halberstam out of there.” He did so despite public ridicule from the dean of that era’s Georgetown punditocracy, the now forgotten columnist (and Vietnam War cheerleader) Joseph Alsop.
It was Alsop’s spirit, not Halberstam’s, that could be seen in C-Span’s live broadcast of the correspondents’ dinner last Saturday, two days before Halberstam’s death in a car crash in California. This fete is a crystallization of the press’s failures in the post-9/11 era: it illustrates how easily a propaganda-driven White House can enlist the Washington news media in its shows. Such is literally the case at the annual dinner, where journalists serve as a supporting cast, but it has been figuratively true year-round. The press has enabled stunts from the manufactured threat of imminent “mushroom clouds” to “Saving Private Lynch” to “Mission Accomplished,” whose fourth anniversary arrives on Tuesday. For all the recrimination, self-flagellation and reforms that followed these journalistic failures, it’s far from clear that the entire profession yet understands why it has lost the public’s faith.
It’s our country’s bitter fortune that while David Halberstam is gone, too many Joe Alsops still hold sway. Take the current dean of the Washington press corps, David Broder, who is leading the charge in ridiculing Harry Reid for saying the obvious — that “this war is lost” (as it is militarily, unless we stay in perpetuity and draft many more troops). In February, Mr. Broder handed down another gem of Beltway conventional wisdom, suggesting that “at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback.”
Some may recall that Stephen Colbert offered the same prediction in his monologue at the correspondents’ dinner a year ago. “I don’t believe this is a low point in this presidency,” he said. “I believe it is just a lull before a comeback.” But the fake pundit, unlike the real one, recognized that this was a joke.
— Why does the work of the US press suck so badly in general? The BBC’s Greg Palast has this to say about that:
I know some of the reasons why investigative reporting is on the decline. To begin with, investigations take time and money. A producer from “60 Minutes,” watching my team’s work on another voter purge list, said: “My God! You’d have to make hundreds of calls to make this case.” In America’s cash-short, instant-deadline world, there’s not much room for that.
Are there still aggressive, talented investigative reporters in the U.S.? There are hundreds. I’ll mention two: Seymour Hersh, formerly of the New York Times, and Robert Parry, formerly of the Associated Press, who uncovered the Iran-Contra scandal. The operative word here is “formerly.” Parry tells me that he can no longer do this kind of investigative work within the confines of a U.S. daily newsroom.
One of the biggest disincentives to doing investigative journalism is that it jeopardizes future access to politicians and corporate elite. During the I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby trial, the testimony of Judith Miller and other U.S. journalists about the confidences they were willing to keep in order to maintain access seemed to me sadly illuminating.
Expose the critters and the door is slammed. That’s not a price many American journalists are willing to pay.
It’s different in Britain. After the 2000 election, when Harris’ lawyer refused to respond to our evidence, my BBC producer made sure I chased him down the hall waving the damning documents. That’s one sure way to end “access.”
[PW adds: Of course, one reason that the Beeb journos don’t worry about “access” is that unlike our broadcasting systems (public and private), the BBC’s funding doesn’t depend on maintaining the goodwill of corporate advertisers or the politicians bought by those advertisers. They get their money from a yearly license fee which is so far sacrosanct, though an enraged Tony Blair has made stabs at undoing it.]
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