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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Journalism = Transcription


Did you see Bill Moyers' new PBS special last night? If you did, you know how disturbing it was to witness the media's cowardice and the administration's lies dissected and put on display in such a compelling manner. If you didn't, you need to make a point to see it and encourage your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues to do the same. You can watch the video or read the transcript of the program here.

Most of us will recognize the facts Moyers' compiled on how too many were lured into buying BushCo's lies and propaganda, but to see everything organized and communicated chronologically is powerful indeed. With the myriad of horrors produced by Bush and his cronies, it's easy to forget just how blatantly and dishonestly the case for war was made, and just how nonchalantly and obediently the mainstream media served as BushCo's uncritical transcription service and megaphone.

One segment to watch for is about the reentry of the UN inspectors into Iraq right before the invasion, and how the results of their profoundly thorough investigation, which turned up nothing in terms of WMD or nukes, was dismissed and ignored -- and still is today.

David Sirota does a great job of summarizing the show's exposure of the mainstream media's inside the Beltway laziness and arrogance. Excerpt:

In interview after interview after interview, we hear top journalists and opinionmakers declare that they believe journalism is no longer about basic, hard-scrabble reporting or getting scoops. As the Washington Post's Walter Pincus says, most reporters today actually try to avoid getting scoops because they "worry about sort of getting out ahead of something" and - gasp! - making their friends inside Official Washington mad at them. So rather than, say, do the real work of reporting news, journalism has become a profession that is almost entirely about PR, transcription and packaging Establishment spin for news copy. This is why, for example, many of the highest-profile political "journalists" like Joe Klein and David Broder never bother to actually report anything anymore - but instead spend most of their time pontificating on horse race polls and campaign gossip, expecting us to believe that's real "news."

... Moyers, channeling a fantastic piece by Jebediah Reed in Radar Magazine, notes that most of the people who regurgitated the Washington Establishment's debunked case for war have actually been rewarded with even more prominent positions in the media. And while these desperate-for-attention media icons like Bill Kristol and Tom Friedman are happy to throw themselves in front of cameras for almost any opportunity to promote themselves, they categorically refused to talk to Moyers for his PBS special.

And Glenn Greenwald takes on "our failed and barren press" in no uncertain terms while revealing how nothing has changed with the mainstream media outlets since their spectacular failures during the run-up to the war. Excerpt:

For those who have been following these issues, there was no single, specific blockbuster revelation that was not previously known, although Moyers' focus on the superb (and largely ignored) pre-war work of Real Journalists at Knight-Ridder (now at McClatchy) does cast a new light on the profound malfeasance of our most influential media outlets.

... the documentary is -- in one sense -- a very valuable historical account of the corrupt behavior by our dominant political and media institutions which deceived the country into the invasion of Iraq. But on another, more significant level, it illustrates the corruption that continues to propel our political and media culture.

Just consider that, as Moyers notes, there has been no examination by any television news network of the role played by the American media in enabling the Bush administration and its warmonger propagandists to disseminate pure falsehoods to the American public. People like Eric Boehlert have written books about it, and Moyers has now produced a comprehensive PBS program documenting it. But the national media outlets themselves have virtually ignored this entire story -- arguably the most significant political story of the last decade -- because they do not think there is any story here at all.

Also be sure to check out Tom Tomorrow's cartoon on what the pundits slash faux journalists were saying before the war. Unfortunately, the media travesties mostly continue. Welcome back, Bill Moyers. His new series, Bill Moyers' Journal, will be aired Friday nights on PBS (KNME) at 9:00 PM.

April 26, 2007 at 01:20 PM in Iraq War, Media | Permalink