Jason Linkins is stunned by David Gregory's disinterest in getting to the bottom of who knew (and authorized) what and when:
David Gregory is talking about torture. He's talking about criminal behavior. He's talking about moral failings. And by his own admission, "nobody comes out cleanly." By his own admission, everyone was "told what was going on." Everyone "knew what was going on." You'd think that such a target-rich environment would lead a journalist to scramble all available resources to pin down all the wrongdoing, get to the bottom of everything, ensure that the whole matter comes out into the light. You will not be able to watch David Gregory in the above clip and feel like he is even remotely inspired to follow the story. All you get is shrugging, stooped, passivity.
Linkins' whole piece is worth a read.
But when it comes to the media's seeming disinterest in finding the truth, there's an explanation sitting right there in the middle of Gregory's comments: "nobody comes out cleanly."
That includes the media.
The elite media is stocked of people - many of them liberals, or sold as such - who supported torture.
Once a week or so, Jonathan Alter appears on MSNBC to talk about investigating torture. Well, Jonathan Alter supported torture. (To his credit, Alter seems more interested than many of his peers in finding out what happened, if not in punishing wrongdoing.) Richard Cohen -- "liberal" columnist for the Washington Post - still supports torture. You could spend days compiling other examples.
So, yes, last week's indications that the Bush administration employed torture in an effort to get people to say there was a tie between Iraq and 9/11 so they could justify their unnecessary war in Iraq should cause reporters to redouble their efforts to find out exactly what happened and who was involved.
But many of those reporters supported torture, and many of them supported the Iraq war. And most of those who didn't support the war did little to challenge the Bush administration's lies*. That probably has at least something to do with their passivity in following the story now.
* There are exceptions, of course. But the exceptions tend to be people you haven't heard of; people who end up on page A18, not NBC News.
Philadelphia Inquirer editorial page editor Harold Jackson:
Unfortunately, most of the critics of our contract with Yoo have their facts wrong.
But that happens when your information comes from those bloggers who never let the facts get in the way when they're trying to whip people into a frenzy to boost Web site hits.
Jackson didn't address the fact that in his Inquirer columsn, Yoo hasn't let the facts get in the way of his partisanship.
In his May 10 column, for example, Yoo attacked President Obama for citing empathy as a qualification he will seek in a Supreme Court nominee. But Yoo himself has praised Supreme Court justice Clarance Thomas - Yoo's former boss - for displaying that very quality.
Yoo also argued against the appointment of an "activist" judge - a meaningless label that partisan conservatives like Yoo attach to anyone they don't like. Want proof? According to at least one assessment, the single most "activist" member of the high court is Clarence Thomas, for whom Yoo clerked, and whom Yoo praises enthusiastically.
And Yoo falsely suggested that liberals want President Obama to make a pick "based solely on race or sex" -- something nobody is in favor of. That's just a flatly dishonest description of the opposing view; Yoo grossly exaggerated and distorted views with which he disagrees for the purpose of more easily discrediting them.
It's like trying to discredit John Yoo's views on torture by saying "John Yoo thinks the President should be able to order the crushing of a child's testicles."
Oh. Wait. That wouldn't be an exaggeration at all. John Yoo actually thinks the president should be able to order the crushing of a child's testicles.
Anyway: Harold Jackson, so busy denouncing "bloggers who never let the facts get in the way," couldn't be bothered to address the hypocrisy and falsehoods found in Yoo's column. Apparently the Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial page editor think Inquirer readers should be held to a higher standard than Inquirer columnists.
And he wonders why the Inquirer faces a "murky future."
It's so annoying: He's a man of the people, he's one of us, he hasn't forgotten his roots. He used to be a firefighter! I might even believe some of his relentless NBC marketing rhetoric if Williams didn't stop reminding us every chance he got. Of course, the fact that a journalist feels the need to construct, and relentlessly sell, a forced public persona pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the state of corporate journalism in America today.
But Williams takes the whole blue collar thing and just jams it down everyone's throat. All the time. BriWi, give it a rest. You reportedly pocket $10 million each year to read the news for 20 minutes each night. (That comes out to roughly $50,000 per-broadcast.) You live in a restored farmhouse in Connecticut, and park your 477-horsepower black Porsche GT2 in the garage. And that's when you're not decamped to your Upper East Side apartment or appearing on Saturday Night Live or The Tonight Show. You're not like everyone else. You occupy the tiniest stratosphere of elitism in America. So why this obsessive marketing campaign to sell yourself as just an Everyday Joe?
I'm reminded of all this beause when I opened my NJ newspaper today out popped a copy of Inside Jersey magazine.
Williams spent part of his youth in Jersey so Inside Jersey profiled him. That's great. But the blue collar shtick is, as always with Williams, just relentless:
Williams says his youth at the Shore was fantastic, though solidly middle class -- a three-bedroom ranch, a wooden locker at the Surfrider Beach Club instead of a cabana, a 10-year-old car when he was old enough to drive...And with it comes a little dose of middle-class Jerseyness, too. "It's my world view. It's who I am," he says.
He considered taking the police exam in Middletown or becoming a county dispatcher. "I could have easily and happily become a 'townie' as we used to call them."
Yep, just one of the guys. The marketing routine has become so predictable, even Williams' boss know which phrases to pitch to reporters:
Steve Capus, president of NBC News, says Williams' Jersey roots are part of his success. "He has a real connection with middle America," says Capus, a Hoboken resident who has worked with Williams since 1986. "He stays true to his roots and who he is. He could go out to a black-tie event every night of the week, but he'd rather go home and watch a Yankees game with his son."
Williams is special and different and remarkable because he likes his kids! Can you imagine Peter Jennings or Dan Rather or Walter Cronkite ever being so slavishly devoted to maintaining a public persona in such a hackneyed way? But hey, it works. Here's the second comment posted under the article at Inside Jersey:
Good story. He sounds like a terrific, down to earth guy.
Because the British press makes stuff up and then Drudge hypes it. It's pretty much like clockwork at this point.
Today's entry, via Drudge:
OZ TV AIRS NEW TORTURE PHOTOS
New 'prisoner abuse' photographs emerge despite US bid to block publication: Graphic photographs of alleged prisoner abuse, thought to be among up to 2,000 images Barack Obama is trying to prevent from being released, emerged yesterday.
Except that the photo highlighted by the Telegraph was published by Wired 16 months ago. But other than that, great scoop for the Telegraph and Drudge.
The book is The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right. It's by blogger David Neiwert and it's what helps put the radical path of right-wing rhetoric under Obama into proper, and historical, perspective. It give much-needed context regarding how that brand of hate speech has been mainstreamed via talk radio and Fox News, among others.
Reviewing the timely new book in American Prospect,
It seems the Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg is inventing news hooks again. Today, it's about how Obama is allegedly being "drawn into" a controversial debate about abortion. That, despite the fact that Obama himself pretty much hasn't said boo about the topic since taking office. But that's does stop Stolberg from constructing her narrative of choice--the White House is fighting an abortion war!
On Abortion, Obama Is Drawn Into Debate He Hoped to Avoid
Here's the breathless thrust of the article:
Now, Mr. Obama is suddenly in the thick of the battle he had hoped to transcend, and his delicate balancing act is being put to the test. The confluence of two events — his commencement speech on Sunday at the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana, and his forthcoming choice of a candidate to replace Justice David H. Souter, who is retiring from the Supreme Court — threaten to upend Mr. Obama's effort to "tamp down some of the anger" over abortion, as he said in a news conference last month, and to distract from his other domestic priorities, like health care.
Now, in order to be 'drawn into debate," doesn't that mean that Obama has to, y'know, actively engage in the topic of abortion? Doesn't that mean there has to be some back-and-forth between Obama and those who disagree with him on the issue of abortion? Meaning, doesn't Obama have to say something about abortion in order for there to be a debate? Not at the Times. Or at least not according to Stolberg's approach.
Yet note this passage/concession regarding the ND kerfuffle:
The White House must now decide whether to engage in the debate and, if so, how deeply.
In truth, the White House hasn't even engaged in the abortion debate, yet Stolberg writes an entire article about how the White House has been "drawn into" the abortion debate; how Obama is "suddenly in the thick of the battle."
This, as Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler has explained over the years, is what happens when the Beltway press weds itself to a storyline. Once that narrative is agreed upon, there's no adjusting it. It is what it is, and everyone marches ahead in unison using the same 'facts.'
And recently, the agreed upon storyline is that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has become deeply entangled in a controversy about what she did and didn't know about torture techniques.
Here's how ABC reported it today:
Pelosi yesterday accused the CIA of giving her "inaccurate and incomplete information" on the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics by the Bush administration, saying that CIA officials are guilty of "misleading the Congress of the United States." Her recollection is contradicted by an intelligence report sent to Congress last week, which said Pelosi was briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques "that had been employed" in September 2002.
Yikes, Pelosi was caught red-handed telling a fib; unmasked by a CIA intelligence report which totally undercut her claim that she was never told about torture techniques. Busted!
But what did ABC dutifully leave out of its explanation about how Pelosi's recollection was "contradicted" by a CIA intel report? Just the fact that the head of the CIA warned Congress that that intel report may not be accurate or reliable.
Today's process gotcha thriller pits Pelosi vs. the CIA report. But in the press' preferred telling, news consumers don't need to know that the CIA report might not be accurate.
UPDATE: Like we said, the press moves in a pack. And this pack has no interest--none--in detailing doubts about the CIA report.
Yes, the the CEO gets credit for deflecting Beck's anti-union rants. As the Huffington Post notes:
In an amazing interview on Thursday afternoon, Glenn Beck consistently attempted to goad recently-promoted GM CEO Fritz Henderson into bashing the automaker's partners: the United Auto Workers and the federal government. Throughout the interview, Henderson sat there and gamely deflected Beck's rants and calmly explained how his company works.
But that doesn't answer the question of why was Henderson even on Beck's show in the first place. Why would the CEO of an American (still) landmark company think it was a good idea, image-wise, to appear on a loony bin show like GB? And why would a CEO of a company working closely with the U.S. government in an attempt to fend of its demise, appear on a show that has claimed the current administration is a communist/socialist/totalitarian outpost? Why show up on a show that's pretty much a laughing stock?
There's nothing wrong with GM's CEO trying to get its message out, or even doing that via Fox News. But by showing up on Beck's hate-fest program, Henderson simply tarnished his own reputation, as well as GM's.