|February 18 2005||EDITORIAL ARCHIVES|
Wanted: An Investigative Reporter to Break Open the Explosive Story of a Mainstream Press that Betrays America
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
The White House apologist mainstream press corps is now flagellating the Internet blogs and news services, such as BuzzFlash, claiming that writers on the net are fast with the truth.
What the reality is is this: sites like BuzzFlash.com are fast, fast in telling the truth. The New York Times and Washington Post are so interested in protecting the status quo that they are now the tail end of breaking White House scandal stories, rather than breaking them. They can lay claim to be 12th and 13th to publish hot news stories, two weeks after they've hit the Internet.
You've got White House protectors like Howard Kurtz, who is laughably called a media reporter for the Post. If Kurtz saw Karl Rove drop Howard Dean's body over the White House fence, he'd call his good buddy, Scottie McClellan, the White House Press Secretary, and ask him what happened.
Scottie, 'ol chap, would tell Howard that it was only Karl tossing out an old rug. Kurtz would tell him, "good to go," and the story next day in the style section of the Post would be, "I called Scottie McClellan and he assured me that Karl Rove was doing some late evening cleaning of his office and decided to throw out an old rug himself. That's all it amounts to." Oh, yeah, and on page A16 of the Post, there would be a small article, below an ad for Filene's Bargain Basement, "DNC Chair Howard Dean Reported Missing."
The layer of editors at the Post only ensures that no story will end up in the news section that will bring down Rove's wrath. That's the definition of "truth" in contemporary Washington journalism. The recent Wolf Blitzer-Howard Kurtz CNN program blowing off of the Gannon/Guckert scandal as a "piffle" was a mindboggling, specious, unprofessional effort to come to the defense of the indefensible: a White House that manipulates the press like marionettes.
Besides which, during the Clinton impeachment, the mainstream press gravitated to every salacious detail leaked by Matt Drudge (illegally secreted to him by Ken Starr's staff), like flies to excrement -- and nary a complaint was heard. The New York Times and Washington Post were among the lead flies circling the Drudge dung.
As we noted when we recently named Howard Kurtz our BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week:
But it isn't, is it? The real investigative news story that needs to happen is not in the mainstream press; it is about the mainstream press.
It has been a mindboggling Orwellian week when a Capitol Hill/White House Press Corps that couldn't stop salivating 24/7 over a blow job dismisses a non-journalist getting access to CIA documents and questioning the President of the United States, while he moonlights as a gay military hooker, dismisses the story as nothing, even as untold numbers of questions are raised about the White House credentialing process, with enormous implications for potential lapses in national security.
Hey, Scott McClellan admitted that he knew Gannon was operating under a pseudonym, but that didn't seem to disturb him, until he later qualified his story. In fact, there is so much damage control going on at the White House now, you would think that the White House Press Corps would be popping out with revelations of improprieties; that is, if they were doing their jobs. But that would be too much to ask. No one wants to rock the boat there, even when a mega-scandal is sitting right next to them.
Okay, so let's get Republican here. It's not the seedy sex and whether or not Gannon/Guckert was "servicing" anybody at the White House; it's the lying. But the White House Press Corps long ago stopped caring about Bush White House duplicity. Lying is the coin of the realm at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Gannon/Guckert wasn't the only one to transmit White House press releases without any serious questioning of their veracity.
There are a thousand and one questions that can and should be raised about the White House stonewalling and lies about the Gannon/Guckert affair. And the only reason you will see them on the net is because it can get a reporter fired to bring them up fairly in the mainstream press (with the exception of columnists).
It's got nothing to do with credentials. You can report a Pentagon news release, get two people in the Pentagon to say it's true, and still be writing up a lie. It's who you ask, what you ask, and how vigorously you pursue the story. Most mainstream reporters can telephone in their stories nowadays after getting news releases from the Bush Administration.
Sure, there are some decent, honest journalists chafing at the restrictions placed upon them not to expose the truth about the White House chronic lying and media manipulation. And there are some swell columnists in the New York Times and Washington Post, but the accomplices to the White House are the news editors. Everyday they choose what is considered news and what is not considered news. It is a highly subjective process, subject to White House pressure and influence.
Recently, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller wouldn't even tell his own ombudsman why the controversial Judith Miller went on television to discuss how the infamous source of many of her misleading pre-Iraq leaks, Chalabi, was now on the insider's list of the Bush Cartel again. You see, Miller revealed this on cable TV, in the newspaper's name, several days before it appeared in the NYT under another byline. And Miller was one of the people whose pre-Iraq war reporting the NYT apologized for. But nothing's changed.
Which brings us to the Valerie Plame, Jeff Gannon/Guckert, Judith Miller, Bob Novak, and Patrick Fitzgerald axis of "six degrees of separation." Just a few of the mainstream press dots that connect one to the other. You see, Gannon/Guckert tried to nail Joe Wilson by saying that he, Gannon/Guckert, was shown a classified CIA document (but Kurtz, Blitzer and the like seem to care little about such violations of national security). And Miller, ostensibly, faces going to jail for not revealing her knowledge about the Plame leak, while Novak blissfully continues to get paid to shill for the Republicans and the White House in particular, even though he was the one who outed Plame.
So Bill Keller is getting all indignant that Miller might go to jail and is making the Plame matter an issue of the right of a reporter to maintain confidential sources. But, here is where it gets interesting. Just the other day, a Federal judicial panel including David Sentelle (who exonerated Ollie North, appointed Ken Starr, approved secret activities by the FBI, and countless other decisions for the GOP), approved sending Miller to jail if she didn't talk.
Well, why would a right wing lackey like Sentelle side with the Bush administration on forcing a reporter (Judith Miller) who is a propaganda conduit for them to go to jail? (Miller wrote stories without naming sources that Cheney then used to create "factoids" to justify the Iraq War.)
Here's why. Because the purpose of the so-called Fitzgerald "Plame Investigation" is not to charge anyone at the White House; it is to find a reason NOT to charge anyone at the White House. If the U.S. Attorney can prove that there was general knowledge among a certain group of reporters in D.C. that Plame was a CIA operative, then no crime was committed. And that is where, in the end, trust us, the go-to-girl for the White House, Judy Miller, will assist them. Alberto Gonzales brought the two key lawyers who were representing Bush in the Plame case to the Justice Department. So are you getting the picture now?
And what better way to bollix up an investigation than not to subpoena Novak, and, instead, subpoena secondary reporters to the investigation and get the media to denounce the threats being placed on their reporters? Ingenious.
Are you starting to connect the dots? The mainstream press should be connecting the dots, except for the fact that they are the dots.
Bill Keller recently bemoaned to the New Yorker that Karl Rove had berated him for not being fair to Bush. We were laughing so hard when we read that, we fell off our barstool. The New York Times political coverage (as distinct from its editorial page) is so innocuous and unwilling to connect the dots of the Bush administration, it would be useless without all of its supplementary sections, such as the editorial section and book review. It's Karl Rove's dream "liberal paper," because its news section is not liberal politically in the least in terms of news judgment.
It's had a little run on torture stories, and printed an Iraq munitions theft piece before the election because it was going to come out anyway, but it accepts the administration as if it is an honest one. If the role of journalism is to challenge authority by seeking out the truth behind the official statements, the New York Times fails miserably, with a few exceptions here and there. It in no way conveys the radicalism of the people in the White House, nor runs longer investigative pieces on their chronic deceptions and dishonesty. It pretty much accepts their news handouts at face value.
Which returns us to Gannon/Guckert. Here was a shill for the White House literally sitting amongst the mainstream reporters. A faux reporter by day and gay prostitute for Marines by night. A man who passed White House security using a pseudonym. A man the White House Press Secretary says that he was aware was not using his real name. A man who had access to at least one confidential CIA memorandum. And that's only the beginning of the unfolding story. The latest is that Dana Milbank, one of the reporters at the Post, says he believes Gannon/Guckert had a "hard pass" (no pun intended), not a day pass, as Scott McClellan has assured everyone. Gannon/Guckert couldn't even get accredited by the Capitol Hill Press Corps, but he got to ask questions of the President of the United States, as Helen Thomas was banished to a back seat.
Any journalism school graduate, untainted by the corruption of a mainstream press corps that is co-opted by the White House, would have pursued the Gannon/Guckert story as did the bloggers and BuzzFlash.
When you are young and well-trained in a good journalism school, your goal is the pursuit of the truth. Your concern is your professional ethics and credibility. Your loyalty is to your country.
That's before you get corrupted.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL