Sunday, July 03, 2005

All The News That's Convenient To Print

There's something about the Valerie Plame case that really bugs me. And the more I think about it, the angrier I get.

In this post yesterday, Lawrence O'Donnell wrote:
I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's emails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury.
Isn't that precious? The last I checked O'Donnell was supposed to be a reporter. When did reporters start checking their calendar before deciding whether to grace us all with a scoop? It doesn't seem as if O'Donnell was particularly afraid of anything, does it? He just wanted to avoid the inconvenience of that darn grand jury. Just as Reagan's funeral showed in stark relief ("now there was a president") how conservatism, Republicans and politics in general lack someone of his stature today, the recent specter of Watergate reminds us all of what mainstream journalism once was, and what it's become.

Over at Obsidian Wings, Hilzoy gets into this in a post worth reading here. And via OW, Digby writes:
Is it normal that members of the press know the answer to a major mystery but they withhold it, as a group, from the public? I thought their job was to reveal the answers to major mysteries. In fact, this seems like the scoop of the decade. Back in the day, reporters were racing to get the news of semen stains and talking points on the air mere seconds before their rivals. Now, they all keep quiet?

This is a very interesting professional and ethical question for the media. Does the reporter's privilege extend to his friends? Here you apparently have quite a few members of the DC press corps with a piece of very juicy information (allegedly) about the most powerful political operative in the United States --- information that also has to do with an important matter of national security and a Justice department investigation. In some sort of friendship extension of the reporter's privilege they say nothing. Amazing.
Of course, this is all part of a larger trend I wrote about in this post a few months ago after recoiling in horror from a monstrosity called the White House Correspondents' Association dinner. The emasculation of the profession of journalism---partially self-inflicted due to laziness, inbred clubbiness or overt hackery---presents a growing danger to us all.

And if the press was at all interested in regaining some much-needed credibility with the public---yes, its customers; there's a reason why the stock price of the New York Times just hit a new five year low---what better way than to keep a major story inside the Beltway as its own little secret plaything to be whispered, giggled and gossiped about? When it's convenient, an out-of-town weekend jaunt isn't planned and everyone's about to find out anyway, we'll all be told. Or, as O'Donnell wrote yesterday, "Too many people know this. It should break wide open this week."

Thanks, Larry. No trip to Ocean City this weekend?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point about the stock price of the NYT is a good one. I, for one, used to not be able to go a day without reading it. After Jason Blair, that changed. Now, I almost never read it. I suspect I am not alone.

7/03/2005 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for once again getting what the real point is....I know we are all part and parcel of this crazy economic system that helps us blind our selves but really folks, stop and think it through.

I follwed the link and read the posts-the comments were intereesting and the one about the blinded one's reactions very sad.

7/03/2005 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting posts, thanks.

7/03/2005 12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Takes the "Friday Dump" to a whole new level, doesn't it?

7/03/2005 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should read what Helen Thomas has to say about this White House.

If you have the answer to why the media stinks, and has rolled over for this administration, you should be hailed as an American hero.

Ted Tuner's dream has turned into a nightmare. Where is the outrage at the journalism schools. I would think prominent journalists would organize to fix the problem. But when you're making hundreds of millions, why stir the pot (money is more important than ethics and honor). The world of opinions, politics, commercials, and journalism is all intermixed. Rather than reporting facts, they look for the hot buttons of various groups and write to that, whether true or not. Obviously we have people like Armstrong Williams who takes money to promote the White House agenda. Folks think Limbaugh is reporting news. I think Jeff Gannon's story should have been HUGE. Here is some guy, who had access to the White House after 9/11, who worked for a fake news (click on the video clip) organization, that was funded by a Republican strategists. I watch network news, like NBC and ABC and I can't believe how they cover stories. There appears to be no other Christians in the world, but radical fundamentalists. Nightline had 4 stories on the Swift Boaters, and only one tried to be impartial (they took one issue and actually went to Vietnam).

Certainly the pop culture we live in is driving news; money follows; a drive to the bottom in all respects. I think that is why PBS is so important, if the radical-right can keep their hands off of it. There are several good journals that have reasonable prices, but aren't necessarily mainstream. But look at the financial news the public gets today. Icks! Could you imagine if the people had real information about investments, Wall Street, government, and politics. Why doesn't someone come out with a "truth" network or publication. Or is it like Jack Nicholson in a "Few Good Men": "You want the truth. You can't handle the truth."

We have all the tools and resources to be the most informed public, but it seems misinformation is the name of the game.

Karl Rove is the one that suggested to Bush to appeal to the fringes. The southern conservative groups were taken over in the late 70's by the radical fundamentalist right. Our government is going to get a lot worse unless some good people start stepping up to the plate. Certain Republicans will say the media is liberal, but that is just politics to stir up emotions. They say a lot of things that aren't true. There was an excellent story in the NYT's, "Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy". It is interesting to see the amount of the money and thought that went into infrastruce and media propaganda machine for the right. The right, for over 30 years, has worked on the media, and now spends $300 million a year on propaganda. Let's not forget law universities founded in 1986 by Pat Robertson. Jerry Falwell also founded a law school. These aren't "in the middle" folks. These are important because they are indoctrinating the next generation to attack our government. But I don't think people think much of Rev Sun Myung Moon owning the Washington Times and UPI and things like that. It goes back to your blog about creating panic in people. This Republican party is all about fear to control and manipulate the people.

I just want the truth in the news, and I want the journalists to have the balls to do their job. I wonder with the mixture of money, power, and religion, where is Bush taking our country?

"The one who tells the stories rules the world.", Hopi proverb

7/03/2005 2:08 PM  
Blogger Paul Siegel said...

Reporters are not lazy. They are afraid of the big Republican Noise Machine. Anyone who says anything bad against any prominent Republican is immediately eviscerated by Fox and other Republican news channels. Maybe even by "liberal media" like the N.Y. Times.

We'll soon see a test of the latter hypothesis in the actions of Judith Miller.

7/03/2005 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also stopped needing to read the NYtimes on a daily basis. For me, the scandalous pre-war propagandizing was the turning point.

7/03/2005 7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You point out the very reason I blog. Now if too many people know about this why did not a major blogger reveal it long ago. Is there more guilt to go around, was the story unsure? Josh is hinting about someone involved in the Niger forgeries, who? When do those stories get revealed. Hopefully when they are not mere gossip, but still how much do you share with readers when its merely background noise.

7/03/2005 10:26 PM  
Blogger DrDave said...

To clarify a point: Lawrence O'Donnell is not a reporter. He's a former political operative/advisor turned pundit. If you want to be less generous, he's a paid partisan hack. But he's not a reporter. This by no means excuses him for not revealing what he may have known about Karl Rove's involvement in the Valerie Plame affair.

But a bigger question; one that should really, in my view, be front and center. Why isn't Robert Novak in prison? After all, he wrote the story. I've read that he made a deal that kept him out of hot water and out from in front of the grand jury but what were the terms of the deal? And why was he entitled to one?

As to the larger issue of our emasculated media: Yes, many of them are although certainly not all. There are still reporters out there doing good work. And not all of them are kissing Scott McClellan's ass to stay on the White House's better side. But the industry is on the verge of needing a good house cleaning, as is Washington, DC in general.

7/04/2005 12:17 AM  
Blogger Byron from Denver said...

I think there is another aspect to the Plame story the mainstrean media is not exploring. Val Plame was in an excellent position to know before anyone else that Bush’s WMD claims were bogus. Her project with the CIA was WMD proliferation. The White House knew this and used the Wilson story to get Plame off the Iraq WMD project and perhaps discredit her in the process. After all, she had the goods on Bush and had she talked to a reporter, the truth would unravel in the summer of 2003, long before the Downing Street memos surfaced. When Rove told Chris Mathews of Hardball that "Wilson's wife is fair game” he was focusing on Val Plame, not Wilson.

Novak has promised to tell his story at some time in the future, but he has said there are going to be some surprises. It will be quit a shock that Rove’s leak was related to both the Wilson op-ed and Plame’s potential to leak the truth about Iraq’s WMD. To the White House, it is all about killing two birds with one stone.

7/04/2005 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can't wait to see how this one turns out.

7/04/2005 7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The MSM becomes less trustworthy with each passing year. One honest guy—Ted Koppell—is retiring this year. Nightline has done by far the best job of any TV news program, but I wouldn't bet on that continuing. Koppell and Rather were the only guys with clout who tried to do the right thing. We know what happened with Rather. When Koppell leaves, blow-dried heaven. We will see lots of stuff about celebrities on Nightline. Trying to be "relevant," don't you know. Classic marketing question. Have the American people actually become that stupid, with the MSM only trying to fulfill customer expectations? Or have the MSM actively worked to create the stupidity market?

This is an excellent blog. Keep it up. We need you.

7/05/2005 3:50 AM  
Blogger David the Gyromancer said...

Again, many excellent points, but the hero worship of Ronald Reagan is getting so tiresome. The man was forthright, and resolute. Both very important qualities in a president. But he was an intellectual midget and had some dangerously wacky ideas that we're just lucky didn't cause major havoc, (except where they did).

Reagan was very fortunate, and blessed in some ways with felix culpa, by which I mean his faults turned out to be advantages in the waning days of Soviet sytle communism. But to class him as a great man I think it just preposterous.

7/05/2005 11:41 AM  
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