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#58

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2004 The Beast

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Outrageous. Dishonest. Detestable.

No, I'm not talking about Dan Rather's now-famous fiasco involving forged documents. I'm talking about the ridiculous storm of overreaction to it.

Journalists mess up all the time. This was pretty big, I'll admit, but not even close to the worst. If you want a good example of how "biased" the media really is, let's look at the New York Times. Less than half a year ago, they belatedly apologized to their readers for being tragically wrong about Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Star reporter Judith Miller had relied heavily on a single source for damning stories which were very instrumental in building public support for the war. The source? Ahmed Chalabi, now known by all to be a lying, thieving spy with aspirations to rule Iraq himself.

A screw-up this severe makes the CBS mishap look as important as a botched holding call at a Bills game. But the media and public reaction was positively mild compared to the nationwide lynch mob calling for Rather to hang up his microphone, or simply to hang.

It's unbelievably laughable to see smooth-brained, oligarch-funded pricks like Sean Hannity excoriate Rather's "biased" reporting, and intimating "connections" with the Democratic Party. This same gaggle of frenzied zealots have been chafing their lips on Bush's ass for four years now, and would eagerly present a Kerry-damaging document if were handed to them by a chimp on a unicycle and signed "someone who knows John Kerry."

Does Rather hate Bush? I'd venture that he probably does. Is it due to some leftist ideological agenda he's been effectively concealing all of these years? Of course not. It's because he's a reasonable, informed person who's been covering politics for a long, long, time, and he's never seen such insane hypocrisy and disregard for decency--and that's saying a lot. Of course he was salivating over those memos; God, I probably would have had sex with them.

Now he's in a world of shit. Every moron with a modem is busy posting truly bad jokes about Rather (Republicans really just have no comic sense at all), and dancing with glee on the corpse of his reputation. I picked up a recent New York Post, and found three columns celebrating his fall from grace on one two-page spread.

Oh, well. It's not Rather I feel sorry for; he messed up and now he's got to deal with the wrath of a country that loves its ignorance. He knew the risks of attempting to wake this happily sleeping giant, and he should have gotten every little detail right if he was going to try.

It's America I feel sorry for, because now we're even further through the looking glass of truth-suppression, and the dominance of cable news bullies who exhibit as much restraint and objectivity as mentally challenged internet bloggers is further reaffirmed.

The blowback has been immediate: CBS has recently announced it won't air a report on some other forged documents, namely the ones about Nigerian yellowcake uranium that the Bush administration used to sell the Iraq war, until after the election. Their reasoning?

"We now believe it would be inappropriate to air the report so close to the presidential election."

Ladies and gentlemen, we are in a new age.

How on earth can CBS call it "inappropriate" to inform us of incriminating evidence about a candidate we're considering electing--for the first time? It could only be "inappropriate" not to do so, and it is. CBS News has become yet another castrato in the ever-weakening chorus of media voices.

Certainly, we can point to specific print journalists who still shout from the mountaintop. But, as much as it hurts to point this out, in this new age, if you want to penetrate the mass consciousness of semiliterate voters, TV is it. Even if a prominent writer breaks a big story, say Seymour Hersh, it doesn't mean squat until it's picked up on TV. So the New York Times and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting can piss and moan all day about the fact that the FBI hasn't even bothered to try to talk to the Italian guy who forged the Nigerian documents, although he is readily available and has been to the US three or four times since, and no one will care, or even know, until someone says so on TV…someone like Dan Rather.

Ironically, the Nigeria story was set to air on September 8th, but was shelved in favor of the National Guard story. Now you won't see it until it doesn't matter anymore, because CBS can't take the heat.

Today an AP story tells us that John Kerry "must win over many in the small but central slice of the electorate known as 'persuadable' voters" if he wants to win. But the fact that so few are considered "persuadable" says everything about our new media. For example, more people watched the Republican National Convention on Fox News than any of the big three networks. Not too surprising, I guess, but it is truly debilitating. Think about it: while the networks are obsequious enough and licking more boot every day, there is absolutely zero chance that you would encounter a single critical comment or even a factual correction of a Republican speech on Fox. So, while the speeches were riddled with fabrications and distortions of truth, at least 7 million viewers out there heard absolutely nothing of it. The Republican Party has its own channel now, and the faithful will never again have to hear unpleasant truths about their leaders. Sins of omission are the order of the day. These viewers will never again be "persuadable," because they have been carefully coached to never believe a story they don't like. "Liberal media bias," they will say, whenever they hear that the National Guard story is entirely supported by undisputed evidence that has nothing to do with the forged documents. "Liberal media bias" when they hear that Bush is tapping into the Strategic Oil Reserves despite his pledge to never do so simply to lower gas prices. "Liberal media bias" when they hear that air strikes on Falluja do nothing but kill randomly and give the false impression that Bush isn't waiting until after the election to attack the insurgents with ground troops.

Folks, if the media were liberal, they'd be running stories critical of welfare reform. If the media were liberal, they'd remind us of the actual history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and its position at the very heart of the "War on Terror." If the media were liberal, they might mention that free trade is destroying the middle class. If the media were liberal, they'd tell you that the Newsweek poll putting Bush up 11% in early September, which was a demoralizing dagger to the heart of the left, was despicably flawed in its methodology, polling a ridiculously high number of Republicans compared to the percentage that has voted in the last three elections.

The media is not liberal; the media is a meek, subservient, ass-kissing slave to its massive corporate masters. And it won't step out of line again, because it doesn't want another beating.



 

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