Sunday, January 09, 2005

Honest Reporting

I write on this page every day documenting unimaginable outrages perpetrated on the American people by this corrupt administration. And because I have other things to do as well, I have to select only the most egregious examples, letting many more pass without examination. It’s interesting, then, to see which ones actually break into mainstream television media, or to put it another way – which ones that the supposedly liberal news editors have deemed important enough to tell the dimwits of this country to get upset about.

This week, it was reported that BushCo paid right-wing hack Armstrong Williams $240,000 to promote the already underfunded No Child Left Behind initiative on his show and in interviews. For some reason, the mainstream news media is running with this story – I’ve seen it all over television. Why this, TV News? Yes, it’s horrible, but is it as horrible as the House Republicans lowering their own ethics standards to help Tom DeLay keep his job after he’s arrested? Is it really worse than allowing Bush and his cronies to mislead the American people about the state of our economy, tricking people into thinking the real economic problem we’re facing is social security, and not the plummeting dollar and massive trade and budget deficits? Is it really worse than the President honoring George Tenet, Paul Bremer and Tommy Franks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom - three men who, at best, are lazy yes-men, and at worst are guilty of negligent homicide and war crimes? I could go on and on.

I agree that the Armstrong Williams situation is outrageous, but from a TV news editor’s point of view, what is so special this time? These television pundits are all comically wringing their hands about this situation, while they’re actually sitting there on a panel next to other paid propagandists. The difference is those propagandists are being paid not by the American taxpayers, but instead by the companies that make money through Bush’s unconscionable policies. The war profiteers, the drug companies, the polluters, NewsCorp, etc. And you see, this is the bigger problem that mainstream media doesn’t want to address. We’re surrounded with propaganda every day. Mainstream news will interview one reasonable journalist and offset him with a batshit-crazy right wing hack like Ann Coulter under the pretense of “balance.” Right wing radio nuts are allowed to spread lies, hate, and fear every single day on their shows, and collect their paychecks from the Bush profiteers.

So why the manufactured outrage? I’m glad you asked, because I have a theory. In this case, BushCo went just a touch too far for their taste. The pundits love riding this gravy train, but the direct line of money from the government to the pundit too graphically illustrates the nature of the corruption. Before Armstrong Williams, the media had plausible deniability about where their money comes from. But with this, even the dumbest of the dumb can see the road we’re on. So, these hacks are forced to denounce Williams in the hope that they keep the wool over our eyes about their own dark connections long enough to maintain the status quo. What would happen to their jobs if the American people finally woke up and demanded accuracy in news and anti-libel laws with teeth? The media would be forced to actually do something to earn their paycheck. Honest reporting, real investigation, actual sources. Hard work, as Bush might say.

And hard work is the last thing the media wants to do.

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