July 27, 2004
Note to Tom Brokaw: Why I get my hard news from Jon Stewart
BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Sunday morning, wanting to see some of the run-up to the Democratic convention, I turned on CNN. There was Judy Woodruff, talking to a Kerry spokesperson. In thanking him for the interview, for her closing line, she said, "Spoken like a true, loyal Kerry man." Did I hear that right, I thought? Because it sounded to me like a backhanded way to imply that he said what he said just because he works for Kerry? A sly way to discredit the speaker; slip in the line, close the segment.
Then, because the Republicans have a "rapid response war room" at the Dems' convention, Ms. Woodruff interviewed one of the ex-Enron lobbyists that now have jobs shilling for Cheney/Bush. I waited to see how she would close the interview with him. First, I had to listen to the same old tired list of Republican "talking point" lies: Kerry voted to raise taxes 350 times (lie), Kerry is a flip flopper (lie), Kerry is the most liberal senator (lie, but I wouldn't care if he was). On and on, and not once did Ms. Woodruff challenge or question the statements made. When he was done, she thanked him sweetly for his time, as if it had been a burden for him to have had to do all that heavy lifting for lil ol' her. Yuck. I turned to MSNBC. No better. They were all so excited to have a "rabid response team" throwing them treats that they were practically salivating on their mics.
Later in the day, while watching CSPAN, there was Ms. Woodruff again, along with a panel of other esteemed TV news professionals: Brokaw, Jennings, Rather. They were discussing the sad state of news reporting during the lead up to war. Yes, they admitted that they all reported the war build-up wrong. They didn't ask hard enough questions. They were cowed by an aggressive and hostile administration. They were afraid to buck the hyper patriotism in the lead-up to the war.
Then, I almost choked on my pretzel, Brokaw bemoaned the fact that so many young people think that The Daily Show is an acceptable way to get real news.
Note to Brokaw, Jennings, et al. You didn't just misreport the insane drive to start an unnecessary, pre-emptive war, you were part of the hyper patriotic, jingoistic drumbeat. And it isn't just that you didn't do enough to question it, it's that you didn't do anything. And you still aren't. Your pathetic CSPAN mea culpa, seen by less than 1% of the country, is even less impressive when you go right back to your studio and keep carrying water for the Bush Administration, ala Ms. Woodruff.
As for why young people think that The Daily Show is a good source of real news, ask yourself this: When the vice-president of the United States is caught, on TV, publicly lying about leading this country into a war where almost 1000 of our young people have needlessly died, and then later states, again on TV, that he never said what he said, why is it that the only "news" show to play the side by side tapes of him lying, and then denying what he said, is The Daily Show? Why wasn't that headline news on every news show? " Vice President denies saying what we have him on tape saying, soldiers dying every day because of it." That's news, but I have to watch Comedy Central to see it. What's wrong with this picture, Mr. Brokaw?
And it isn't just young people who are turning to Jon Stewart for news dressed up as comic relief. I'm old enough to remember another time when we had a VP like Cheney. Spiro Agnew, Nixon's VP, pleaded no contest to charges of tax fraud and resigned. Apparently, Agnew had illegal payments -- which he called legitimate political contributions (in unmarked envelopes containing as much as $20,000 at a time) -- delivered directly to his vice presidential office! Sound like anyone we know? Somewhere from Hell I'm sure Agnew is smiling up at Cheney.
Every one of the top news people sitting on that CSPAN panel should remember Agnew's disgrace; they're old enough, they were all around then. And then, like now, the news media toadied up to the Nixon Administration until the weight of evidence in Watergate became unavoidably massive.
Now it's gotten so bad that flacks like CNN's Kelli Arena can proclaim that Osama Bin Laden is a Kerry supporter and she still has a job. (Kelli, how often do you and Osama talk?)
What's it going to take this time, Mr. Brokaw? Because apparently you news guys have forgotten. Today, once again, you and the other infotainment anchors posing as news people dither and dawdle and pander to this corrupt administration and cry hot little tears of self-recrimination in the quiet corners of CSPAN and then trot right back to your "news" desks and do it all again.
One good hour of self-flagellation in the desert of CSPAN and you feel so refreshed!
Meanwhile this country is again taken for a ride, one that puts Nixon and Agnew to shame, and now, like then, more of our young people die every day for lies.
You know, Mr. Brokaw, you guys aren't kids any more. What are you afraid of? You've made your fortunes. Even if you got fired today, you'll never be out on the street starving. How about finding your courage, and speaking some cold, hard facts: This country was lied into war. The vice president is a war profiteer who is being investigated for taking bribes and doing illegal business with sanctioned countries. Try it. Walter Cronkite could give some advice on this. Bill Moyers is out there trying to do it, I bet he'd like some company. Try grabbing yourself by your manly parts and standing up for the truth.
I bet you'd find an audience then. Hell, I'd watch every day.
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Articles in the BuzzFlash Contributor section are posted as-is. Given the timeliness of some Contributor articles, BuzzFlash cannot verify or guarantee the accuracy of every word. We strive to correct inaccuracies when they are brought to our attention.