As a palliative to tonight's State of the Union, here's a brilliant segment of the Daily Show that ties together curtailing freedoms of speech, illegal spying on Americans, James Frey's fictionalized memoir and the mainstream media's modus operandi:
Tell me this: what is sacred to the mainstream media? If not the importance of our vote, our reasons for going to war and the lives of our soldiers, the effects of global warming (have you checked the temperatures in NYC lately?) and the President of the United States' sworn duty to uphold the Constitution (of which Bush has clearly violated - see Fourth Amendment), then, please, tell me what? I can't figure it out. Once again, a clear domestic or international law has been broken and then covered as if it were a football game. Well, you see, the President's strategy has been very effective, they say. Yes, it is. That's because you let him get away with lying and obfuscating the import of every issue. Such offenders in the mainstream press, specifically the un-FOX-y ones who are supposed to be without an agenda, should no longer be called journalists. They are leeches and, along with this administration, they are sucking our democracy dry. To wit:
New evidence of unchecked power. Use of predator drones operated remotely by CIA and Pentagon officials, a practice fully sactioned by this White House, is becoming more widespread. The same mode of killing took the lives of at least 18 civilians in Pakistan recently while allegedly targeting Ayman Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's second in command. An incident that has since been forgotten by our mainstream media but continues to fuel anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, ensuring both a fresh crop of terrorist recruits and the further destabilization of that region.
From today's article:
"Little is known about the targeted-killing program. The Bush administration has refused to discuss how many strikes it has made, how many people have died, or how it chooses targets. No U.S. officials were willing to speak about it on the record because the program is classified."
And this was comforting as well:
"The CIA does not even acknowledge that such a targeted-killing program exists, and some attacks have been explained away as car bombings or other incidents. It is not known how many militants or bystanders have been killed by Predator strikes, but anecdotal evidence suggests the number is significant. In some cases, the destruction was so complete that it was impossible to establish who was killed, or even how many people."
Today's story recalls CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer's infamous quote during Katrina: "...so many of these people, almost all of them that we see, are so poor and they are so black...."
Now, they are so homeless and so jobless and without the means to return home, all of which was predicted here in an op-ed from September, titled "Reporting America's Story" (see archives for full column):
"Throughout, the media spoke of these poor as if they had been belched from some ghetto Atlantis beneath the Mississippi River. Then, as if suddenly seeing the light, we heard them crowing about how America will finally be forced to confront its own poverty. (That is, until the next serial killer, fair-skinned missing person, celebrity breakup or shark attack comes down the pike.) On the heels of these empty assertions, we now learn that Katrina and its bungled aftermath may have contributed to the swiftest spate of gentrification since the origins of Manifest Destiny."
Will we hear someone from the Bush Administration saying, "There was no way to predict this"? Probably not, only because this issue has, and will, receive little media coverage. When it did recently, the focus centered largely on the inappropriateness of Mayor Roy Nagin's "chocolate city" comment rather than the underlying concern his statement (which included more than those two words) was meant to address.
Shameless pro-war report by NBC Nightly News. Sounds like one of those sunny propaganda pieces the Pentagon plants in Iraqi newspapers. A well-timed defense of Bush's stay-the-course mantra. This on the same day that a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 76% of Americans think Bush should come clean about his administration's dealings with Jack Abramoff, which follows yesterday's CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that found the majority of Americans think Bush's presidency is a failure. Rather than focus on these polls and their import, NBC News is busy cheerleading for President Bush. Rallying behind a leader whose administration is now synonymous with corruption, incompetency, torture, treason, illegal spying, scientific disregard and shameless mendacity. Enjoy the fairytale:
Here's a bird's-eye view of our fawning and ineffective White House press corps in action. Imagine how easy it would be for responsible and skilled journalists to pick apart Bush's incoherent, inaccurate and misleading responses:
While the corporate media (along with the White House) downplayed Al Gore's words last week, it seems that some in his party might have found inspiration. Yesterday, Senator Harry Reid compared Bush's actions to those depicted in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (what half the country's been doing for years now). And today, Senator Patrick Leahy demanded to know precisely what information the White House is seeking from Google:
On Sept. 1, Bush lies, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." (Incidentally, you have to love the echo of Condi's infamous, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile....") Today, damning evidence reveals the White House not only ignored an August 29th Homeland Security report warning of disaster, but also the findings of a preparedness exercise that began in July of 2004, more than a year before Katrina hit. The results "warned that a Category 3 storm would overwhelm the New Orleans area with flood waters, killing up to 60,000 people and destroying buildings and roads." This story is out there in the mainstream press, but what is being emphasized varies greatly. Take, for instance, The New York Times version (so important it was printed on page A14!), where the preparedness exercise is more an afterthought or supporting point, and then The Associated Press version, where the proceeding year of inaction (what should be the focus) is front and center:
How many stories of Halliburton's incompetence and graft in Iraq, which has both endangered the lives of U.S. soldiers as well as greatly hampered the rebuilding process, have to come to light before the mainstream media stays on their case? Until Haliburton's deal is null and voided due to breach of contract? Will this even make tonight's network and cable news? And if so, will it be mentioned in passing, with no follow up? Just another one-day story dropped down the memory hole. Where is the outrage and the call for accountability, of a company not just awarded a multi-billion-dollar no-bid contract, but one, operating like a malignancy, that continues to leave their blight on Iraq unabated?
Kudos to journalist Michael Isikoff and Newsweek for this story. (The accompanying photo couldn't be more apt.) If news of the Pentagon also unlawfully spying on U.S. citizens picks up as much steam as the NSA story, how many days before Rummy calls a press conference and tells us that in the post-9/11 world the Pentagon must do everything it can to protect us from the terrorists? I'll stand on one foot until then: