Nine Days – Still No Resignations or Apologies

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One of many questions that Chris Wallace failed to ask Barack Obama during his 45-minute interview on Foxaganda Sunday was what the Senator thought about David Barstow’s devastating exposé in The New York Times the previous weekend.

No surprise. What would be the percentage in replacing one of the plethora of Jeremiah Wright questions with an inquiry about the megamedia’s hiring of retired military officers who sexed up the case for the U.S. invasion of Iraq and then exaggerated, distorted and lied about what was happening when the war and subsequent occupation got underway? Would that help the bottom line? Nah. Hence, none of Wallace’s pals at Foxaganda are talking about this. Indeed, mum’s been the word on Barstow’s bombshell throughout the megamedia. The talking point – or perhaps the memo from on high – seems to be: Don’t talk.

Don’t tell viewers that retired generals and colonels and majors engaged in a war-drumming, flag-waving perversion of patriotism. Or that those in the Pentagon who ordered special briefings for these analysts as part of a domestic propaganda campaign ought to get their mail deliveries slipped between the bars at Leavenworth for the next few years. Avoid the subject and maybe it will go away like so many other stories which have been disappeared as if they were dissidents in some backwater military dictatorship.

No news coverage, no commentary, no questions for any candidates. No abject apologies to viewers from station CEOs who paid double-dippers and triple-dippers to give an official patina to fabrications that have caused the killing and maiming of tens of thousands of Americans and other coalition soldiers. Plus millions of Iraqis. Business as usual. Even two days after the Pentagon suspended the briefings last Friday, Foxaganda was still employing retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney without disclosure.

You want to know more about the story, you go to Barstow’s follow-ups, to those of Glenn Greenwald at Salon, to the folks at Media Matters, and to excellent work of Ari Melber at The Nation. As a matter of fact, if you’d like to see Senator Obama’s answer to that question Wallace should have asked, you can find it (and Senator Clinton’s answer, too) at Melber’s blog here.

We’ve arrived at this situation because of three sets of cowards.

First among these are the military analysts themselves, supposedly men of courage who donned the uniform of the United States and swore an oath to uphold its Constitution. As Barstow wrote:

Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department, including Mr. Cheney, Alberto R. Gonzales and Stephen J. Hadley.

In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

Tell the truth on the teevee and say poof! to that lucrative retainer, that seat on the board of some major player in the military-industial complex, that ability to get the Pentagon to assign a favorable contract to the guys who are filling your bank account. What would retirement be like with a lowered cash flow? So, instead of calling government policy into question, instead of acting like an officer and a gentleman, sell the country out and keep the moolah flowing. Spit on the men and women sent to fight. Spit on the Constitution. Spit on the truth. Once, they painted a yellow stripe down the back of cowardly soldiers.

Not merely cowards. As Daily Kos Contributing Editor BarbinMD wrote when this story was new:  “These men willingly deceived the American public to protect their access to power and more importantly, their profits. Perhaps traitor doesn’t even begin to describe them.” Indeed.

The second set of cowards are all those well-coifed news-readers and commentators and interviewers at CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, CNN and Foxaganda who’ve not seen fit to discuss The New York Times story except to briefly note that the Pentagon has stopped giving the briefings.

We know why Bill O’Reilly hasn’t stepped up with a mea culpa. On April 14, less than a week before Barstow’s piece appeared, according to Media Matters:

During the April 14 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O’Reilly declared: “I can’t base my opinion” about the Iraq war “on anything” other than “what my military analysts, people paid by Fox News, say to me.” O’Reilly added that he could trust only Fox military analysts because “[t]he newspapers … all have an agenda” and “only give you a snapshot of the war.” Later in the broadcast, O’Reilly reiterated his position, saying, “I have to base my analysis on what our Fox News military analysts, who I think are the best and always [have] been the best, are saying.” Further, O’Reilly described as “ridiculous” a caller’s efforts to base his view of the war by “reading the Internet and the newspapers and forming a definitive opinion [based] upon what they say.”

No retraction since. No mention at all. Silence from him and his colleagues throughout the industry – how appropriate that word. They didn’t vet the analysts or check out their possible agendas the way any good journalist would do. They ignored sources that might have called into question the claims of Lt. General Disinformation. Couldn’t find the wherewithal to let viewers know that Major Mendacious worked for a military contractor with a stake in the occupation of Iraq. Just broadcast his lies and cut his checks.

Of course, pointing out the cowardice of the megamedia’s on-camera crowd is thoroughly redundant. As Greenwald wrote Monday after a little praise for the Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz – one of the few print journalists of note to say anything about Barstow’s revelations:

Kurtz’s specific criticism of the media’s behavior regarding this story highlights a broader and even more important point. In general, the establishment media almost completely excludes critiques of their own behavior, and discussions of the role the media plays in bolstering deceitful narratives is missing almost entirely from media-controlled discourse.

One of the most significant political stories of this decade, if not this generation — the media’s full-scale complicity with the Government in the run-up to the Iraq war — has never been meaningfully discussed or examined on any establishment television network, including cable shows. While piecemeal quibbles of media coverage can be heard (of the type Kurtz typically spouts, or the Limbaugh-driven complaint about the “liberal media”), no fundamental critique of the role the media plays, the influence of its corporate ownership, its incestuous relationship with and dependence on government power — among the most influential factors driving our political life — are ever heard.

And we’re not likely to because of the third group of cowards. The guys who actually own and run the channels who paid the military shills to present the Cheney-Bush administration’s Iraq case for the past six years. Indeed, as Media Matters noted, they refused to appear on PBS last Thursday when the public channel took its look into the role of the military analysts.

In the old days in Japan, so the story goes, bosses who engaged in illegal, destructive or merely shameful behavior made a deep bow to those they had offended and headed off to a private room for a date with the blade of a tanto.

Even for those who’ve betrayed their fellow citizens and helped deliver thousands to their deaths for profit, seppuku‘s admittedly a bit harsh. But if the craven news chiefs and channel owners were the least bit honest and upstanding, they’d be setting aside 15 or 20 minutes of broadcast time to apologize to the American people for acting as propagandists, for their malicious, intentional, long-running disinformation campaign. And they’d end with an on-the-air resignation and a vow never again to head up a media operation.

But then, if they were honest and upstanding, they wouldn’t be who they are. And we wouldn’t be where we are, mired in Iraq with no end in sight.

A hundred years of scrubbing will not remove the blood from their hands.

45 comments

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  1. in legitimizing the actions of the state:

    It is necessary to control not only what people do, but also what they think. Since the state lacks the capacity to ensure obedience by force, thought can lead to action and therefore the threat to order must be excised at the source. It is necessary to establish a framework for possible thought that is constrained within the principles of the state religion. These need not be asserted; it is better that they be presupposed, as the unstated framework for thinkable thought. The critics reinforce this system by tacitly accepting these doctrines, and confining their critique to tactical questions that arise within them. To achieve respectability, to be admitted to the debate, they must accept without question or inquiry the fundamental doctrine that the state is benevolent, governed by the loftiest intentions, adopting a defensive stance, not an actor in world affairs but only reacting to the crimes of others, sometimes unwisely because of personal failures, naivete, the complexity of history or an inability to comprehend the evil nature of our enemies. If even the harshest critics tacitly adopt these premises, then, the ordinary person may ask, who am I to disagree? The more intensely the debate rages between hawks and doves, the more firmly and effectively the doctrines of the state religion are established. It is because of their notable contribution to thought control that the critics are tolerated, indeed honored — that is, those who play by the rules.

     

    • brobin on April 29, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Did the TradMedia forget to tell me about this?

    • pfiore8 on April 29, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    it’s deeper than that. it’s worse than that…

    these people, we think, will save us? these democrats don’t bring it up to Chris Wallace. why aren’t these candidates asking the media why they aren’t doing their job???

    i know everybody is big on this “tell truth to power” thing. i think we’ve had it backwards.

    i’m demanding that those in power speak truth to ME. get that, Hill and Barack and Nancy and Harry?

    we can write about the outrages all we want. what we can do better is find a way to incite people to get back involved in the process, take their rightful place as the fourth branch of gov’t and, just as a calling card of this, unseat Nancy Pelosi.

    it should be clear, by now, that alliance and dependence on a political party is wasting our time. we need a Constitutional Convention and one of the BIG action items needs to be this:::

    the ability of citizens, state-by-state, to recall their elected representatives… number ONE.

  2. is based on Honor. On a sense of shame. Of taking responsibility. On being accountable for ones actions.

    Need I say more?

    Cowards and traitors, and not just traitors to their country, but to the very notion that we are more than savages.

  3. The reason there is no apology is because this is a fascist nation in progress.

    Obama, Clinton and McCain are war mongers who promote fascism and confuse “liberals” into thinking they want to “end the war”…

    The generals, like Rev. Wright are simply people who cash in on an opportunity presented to them. Rev Wright is speaking out now…just before the primary…not necessarily to harm Obama but because this is the most charged atmosphere, the best time to do so and will get him the most media coverage ensuring a life long career a la Al Sharpton, Billy Graham cracker and all the other high profile relgious leaders who make a living promoting the Myth that some guy named Jesus came to Earth to save humanity or something…when the truth is…Jesus appears to have been a nasty troublemaker…a very conservative Jew…(NOT A LIBERAL!)…who got himself killed for nothing…Jesus was making the most of his “opportunity” with the Roman occupation to declare himself “messiah”…which meant in those days…he who will get rid of the occupiers of Israel…that’s all it meant then….

    So it is with the Generals….the messiahs who will get rid of the terrorists…or at least explain who these INVISIBLE terrorists are that are killing American troops for reasons of protecting their families from a vicious group of soldiers who have been trained to act as morons.

    This is over.

    You have lost control by voting for Bush twice and then promoters of continued fascism….Clinton, McCain and Obama.

    Well that’s a lot said, I guess

    • Metta on April 29, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    I have been watching too much media on tv lately, the overall sense I get is that the fog machines are working overtime.  It’s like before pin the tail on the donkey when you have the bandana over your eyes and someone spins you around. Except there’s faster spinning and then someone knocks you down. A larger than normal population of the country is pissed off and wants answers and is attempting to get involved in the political process.  I think it’s becoming obvious that this is making those three groups of people uncomfortable.  Inane, licentious, and emotion ridden news stories that continue to dominate the headlines are always a clue that something else is going on.  Come on! The Austrian incest story?? I am writing to news editors today.

  4. is that we are a people afraid to stop our addiction to media.

    The same criminals who brought us this war,  and are surely going to gift us another, are in the process of taking down the only potential candidate that might be smart enough to grasp the size and scope of the problems we face as a nation, as a world.

    white lower income people just can’t relate to him, (ah unelectable)

    WELL WE CANNOT HAVE THAT. NO SIR. THOSE STUPID LOWER CLASS WHITE PEOPLE STILL WATCH AND BELIEVE THE LIES WE SPEW AT THEM.

    LIKE A CRY INTO THE VOID THAT IS THE 21st CENTURY WE CREATE REALITY

    AND NO ONE DARE CHALLENGE US.


    I have been calling, now pleading for a media boycott. The crucial time is here – May. Its sweeps time again. May 19-21st.  Turn your tv  of

    f.

    • RUKind on April 29, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    They’re the worst. They’re the ones who see and understand the enormity of what’s going on and do nothing. Complacency equals complicity. As we used to say in the 60s, “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.”

    Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters said basically the same thing a different way: “You’re either on the bus or you’re off the bus.” There’s no middle ground.

    So far, nothing, absolutely nothing that’s been done has slowed the degeneration and degradation of the American promise. We thought we had it after the 2006 election only to find a bunch of complicit, spineless, shameful people pretending to be an opposition party. And you think 2008 will solve all our problems? Our best choice right now, if elected, will be swallowed up by the Congressional quagmire, same party or not.

    The Founding Fathers put together a document of incredible beauty. The first result was the people found it insufficient and quickly passed ten amendments to get it to a satisfactory agreement. Those ten amendments are the Bill of Rights (in case any NCLB is reading this). Purpose number one was to limit the reach of the federal government.

    The treasonous criminals are running out the clock. What are you willing to do to stop them from getting away scot-free? Anything? Nothing?

  5. two people, one of whom, in saying it was no big deal, clearly had not even read the article. It was one of the most pathetic exchanges I have ever witnessed on that show. Judy was doing it, as I recall.

    • 3card on April 30, 2008 at 1:23 am

    Did you ever really think that you weren’t being played?

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

    • jim p on April 30, 2008 at 3:49 am

    This situation is not an accident. The newsreaders and editors are hired precisely because they can be depended on to shut up and go along. The original Times story, and things that have come out since, establishes without question that any standard other than promoting the official view was out the window.

    You do that, or you’re out of a job. And with the industry as cartel-ized as it is, out of a career. Ask Ashley Banford, who started questioning things around the Iraq war, herself the rising star of journalism, who suddenly disappeared from public view. Everyone who works in the field saw that. Dan Rather talked on British tv about how every journalist in America was afraid.

    Watch the career path of David Barstow from here.

    So, do you get afraid without pressure from your owners? Do your owners put pressure on you unless they want to shut you up? Do they want to shut you up unless you are going to screw up their plans? Are they making plans all by themselves, without consultation with the military/intell factions of government?

    No.

    The Psyops once run on the Soviets, and whoever else, have come home to roost. That’s why it happened. That’s why everyone’s pretending it didn’t.

    • jim p on April 30, 2008 at 7:40 am

    The Pentagon military analyst program unveiled in last week’s exposé by David Barstow in the New York Times was not just unethical but illegal. It violates, for starters, specific restrictions that Congress has been placing in its annual appropriation bills every year since 1951. According to those restrictions, “No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by the Congress.

    This from the Center for Media and Democracy.. It continues:

    As explained in a March 21, 2005 report by the Congressional Research Service, “publicity or propaganda” is defined by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to mean either (1) self-aggrandizement by public officials, (2) purely partisan activity, or (3) “covert propaganda.” By covert propaganda, GAO means information which originates from the government but is unattributed and made to appear as though it came from a third party.

    Much more at the link.

  6. The media are our sole constitutionally protected industry, and they’re an information industry.

    They’re owned by humans, they’re run by humans, they serve their owners, they’re gigantic businesses, and they’re largely exempt from control.

    What the hell do you expect??

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