September 18, 2003
"It's Me or the Terrorists! You Have Three Seconds to Decide."
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
If you had to distill the Bush administration's argument for its existence down to the essence, it would amount to simply this: "It's Me or the Terrorists! You Have Three Seconds to Decide."
Since September 11, 2001, the American people have had the threat of terrorist attacks hovering over them and a gun held to their heads by the Bush administration. The true risk of terrorist assaults on the U.S. and its interests is hard to gauge. Partly, it is due to the murky, secretive nature of terrorism itself, which makes risk assessment a difficult task. But, the other challenge for Americans is that they have an administration that shamelessly uses terrorism to scare and frighten its own population in order to achieve political goals and reward their campaign contributors. The first limitation in assessing terrorism risk is understandable; the second is shameless and unconscionable.
The Bush administration can get away with the "It's Me or the Terrorists! You Have Three Seconds to Decide" threat to the American people because of a mainstream television media -- particularly cable news -- that sees its job as boosting the administration no matter how badly it falters, how brazenly and repeatedly it lies, and no matter how much an increased risk is posed to our national security by the White House's bumbling incompetence. It is as if FOX News, MSNBC, CNN and other "news" operations were daily given the exercise of picking the most despicable, failed client (think of a combination of Ken Lay and the Unabomber) and turning him into a hero, no matter what. That's what their challenge is every morning with George W. Bush and his ship of fools and knaves.
There is not a single major issue affecting Americans that is better now than when Bush took office. In fact, on the economy, national security, the condition of the military, education, social security, Medicare, etc., Bush took a country in the midst of prosperity and positive international relations and smashed it against the wall, like a drunken fraternity brat driving his father's Cadillac into the side of the house.
In a weird way, you have to admire the cosmetic magicians at the cable news network. They have to weave silk out of cow dung 24/7.
So, it's not surprising then that when a rare reporter with integrity speaks the truth about the pro-Bush scripting of cable news that she gets a lashing from the corporate heavies. That's what happened when Christine Amanpour of CNN told Tina Brown, on her CNBC program:
For those comments, Amanpour was reportedly summoned to a "private conversation" with CNN news chief Jim Walton. A FOX News spokeswoman responded to Amanpour's charges -- apparently in all seriousness -- with this creepy soundbite: "It's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than [as a] spokeswoman for al-Qaeda." [LINK]
You may remember that NBC's Ashleigh Banfield was taken to the woodshed by the General Electric-owned news division for comments made in April similar in tone to Amanpour's, although Banfield placed more emphasis on the commercial motivations of television news.
Much of the corporate owned news media -- particularly cable news and corporate owned radio -- is interested in protecting its financial position, not in protecting the nation. Everyday their job is to positively inflate the image of the Bush administration, no matter how much damage it has done to our soldiers, our nation and to other countries. The facts don't matter to them -- nor does the Bush administration's chronic and repeated lying. That's not of interest to them.
They care little about whether we are winning or losing the war on terrorism. All they care about is getting a bigger piece of the financial pie -- and they know that the way to secure that is to pump up the Bush administration and receive corporate favors in return. Michael Powell didn't drive the media deregulation rules through the FCC for nothing.
So lately, the Bush cartel media shills have become even shriller in accusing people who don't support the Bush Cartel of aiding terrorists. They have nothing else to say. It is the defensive positioning of a bankrupt administration hiding behind a public relations machine that masks itself as legitimate media.
We have said since just a few days after September 11th -- and repeatedly since then -- that our lives and the lives of our families are at stake. The likes of Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly and Joe Scarborough aren't going to decide for us how to best protect ourselves and those we love. They can back an administration that is nothing more than the Keystone Cops of anti-terrorism if they want. They can support a strategy that is 10 parts partisanship and greed and one part actual anti-terrorism effort if they want, but it's our lives at stake -- and these exorbitantly compensated PR hookers aren't going to get away with selling the security of America to the highest bidder.
So, to the FOX spokeswoman who said, "It's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than spokeswoman for al-Qaeda," BuzzFlash says to her, "FOX may be viewed as an unquestioning spokesman for Bush, but in doing so it is a foot soldier for al-Qaeda." After all, no one with the least bit of analytical ability and sense of self-preservation can honestly believe that the Bush administration has made us more secure prior to or following September 11th. This has been a case study of incompetence, of image eclipsing catastrophic failure on almost every level. The role of the media is to probe and question and help to improve the war on terror -- not to rubber stamp the work of fools, failures, ideologues and thieves.
Rupert Murdoch is interested in power and money, at our expense. He really could care less about al-Qaeda, as long as they don't bother his news operation. After all, FOX News is prospering, as are Halliburton and other Bush contributors. War is good for some people, even if the administration is hitting the wrong target, committing us to a bloody financially draining quagmire, and sending home our sons and daughters in body bags.
But cable TV news and Karl Rove make the perfect match: a PR operation disguised as legitimate media supports the White House, which supports the corporate interests of the owners of Cable TV News. That's what Bush's war against terror is all about on television.
So when you are bombarded with the daily White House and television news variations of "It's Me or the Terrorists! You Have Three Seconds to Decide," stop and take a deep breath; then count to four. You've already taken one giant stop in standing up to the bogeyman.
Nothing happened after three seconds, did it?
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
otherwise noted, all original