Saturday, November 19, 2005

Woodward's revelation brings journalism around full circle

My thoughts:

The man who revealed to American's 'moral majority' (as it was called by Nixon's and
Agnew's versions of Karl and Karen) how very immoral the people they had placed in power were has, this time, sheltered the criminals in the oval office.

The man that brought out the details of a corrupt administration that kept us in a war and even sought to expand to other nations though they promised to end it through 2 election campaigns, kept the devils' secrets this time.

A man whose name is synonymous with exposing the crimes of those in power, sat on a knowledge of treason, and kept it from us. Woodward and Bernstein are the reason that'investigative reporters are 'stars'. They inspired many a young man and woman to set out to expose the corruption at the top.

For Pete's sake, Robert Redford, played him in a movie! How could he stoop so low?

For one thing, the man is now an editor and for another as LA Tim Rutten pointed out, this administration uses the Watergate style of reporting to it's own ends.

In fact, it uses all styles of reporting to its own ends from what I see.

Now White House leaks spill bad information and then when a reporter passes it on they jump on him with shock and outrage, have their 'leaker' repudiate his or her words, call up the hate radio hosts and the right wing bloggers, and created a firestorm of outrage. And usually this is directed at some journalist who has been successful in uncovering their past incompetencies.

But to get the next 'scoop' that might be good, the reporters take the blame themselves,keep quiet about who is feeding bad information and go about their business. Rutten points out that this pattern of reporter ingratiation for access has now been shown up for how corrupting it is.

This was worse than a bad tip, it was a true tip, full of treason. The Plame controversy erupted within a couple of months of her outing. There was no doubt this was big news and true.

But Bob, the editor, sat on it.

Rutten seems to think that the whole of leak journalism should be canceled. But it seems to me that would news men and women as just stenographers to the powerful.

For all the leaks coming out of the White House inner circle about supposed WMDs Saddam had, there were leaks coming out on the intelligence agencies, telling those who read newspapers and the better news magazines all the way through, that the Bush administration was indeed lying about the WMDs.

Maybe, instead, it is in the hands of the American people to reject those who play us as much as they play their Washington sources and to reject the people in Washington who play the press with bad information and true treason.

Rutten's article is at Woodward joins a decadent dance

Two things have distinguished this Bush administration's efforts at press manipulation from those that have gone before.

One is their sweep and consistency. There has been bribery — as in the egregious case of the wretched Williams. There has been deception — as in the planting of phony news videos. There have been alleged violations of federal laws and regulations — as in Tomlinson's and Rove's efforts to subvert public television. There has been stealth — as in the whispering campaign to discredit Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

And, of course, there has been good old-fashioned bullying, as in the president's and vice-president's assertions that raising questions about their push to war or the torture of U.S. captives is somehow "reprehensible" and unpatriotic. It's a melancholy comment on the state of the American press that it takes a former director of Central Intelligence, Adm. Stansfield Turner, to identify Dick Cheney for what he has become — "vice president for torture" — and that he had to do it in a foreign forum, on Britain's ITV news, as he did Thursday.

The other reason all this has more or less succeeded and gone all but unremarked upon is that the administration has adroitly availed itself of the cultural complicity that prevails in a fin de siècle Washington press corps living out the decadence of an increasingly discredited reporting style. As the Valerie Plame scandal and its spreading taint have made all too clear, the trade in confidentiality and access that has made stars of reporters like Bob Woodward and Judy Miller now is utterly bankrupt.

It still may call itself investigative journalism — and so it once was — but now it's really just a glittering and carefully choreographed waltz in which all the dancers share the unspoken agreement that the one unpardonable faux pas is to ask who's calling the tune.

Now I have this image in my head of Woodward dancing among a crowd of reporters and Bush administration pols doing a slow, insane minuet.

Thanks, Tim.

You're off my xmas card list.

Also see: Media people receive daily 'conference calls, talking points from the GOP and White House

Prosecutor to Offer More CIA Leak Evidence


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