Saturday, July 28, 2007

TV, Radio, & Newspapers

"We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows." - Katharine Graham, former owner of the Washington Post, reported in Online Journal 2/5/04
Is the Pen Still Mightier than the Sword?
Pulse of pixels pouring out the true heartbeat of America
By Dave Macy
Saturday, April 18, 2009
As major newspapers plummet in circulation and begin to stop the presses, there is a power of the written word growing louder each day. It does not smell of newsprint or expose itself on high gloss paper. It is the pulse of pixels pouring out the true heartbeat of America in thousands of Internet blogs and websites.
While the electronic leftist media largely controls the message of liberalism >socialism >Marxism >communism, the “pen” of true patriots trying to hold onto all that is ‘right’ about America is writing a new chapter each day. While the clarion call of talk radio helped brew the Tea Parties, the ingredients for the nationwide protests were stirred vigorously where more people now get their unfiltered news and information and the pen of conservative opinion writes freely.
The sheer strength of the Internet was seen in the rise of Barack Obama whose operatives used their skills to raise millions and effectively bounce Hillary from the nomination. But since BHO started his campaign of economic terror, anti-Christian, anti-American, pro-Islamic presidential term, the growth of serious opposition has mushroomed on the Internet and has become fundamental in getting out the real story of what is happening to America.
While smug TV commentators like Keith Olberman and Anderson Cooper mock protestors without any regard to WHY they are protesting, they watch their own influence being flushed down the toilet as evidenced by Nielsen Ratings that mirror the recent fall in the stock markets.
The righteous anger of Americans largely ignored by the old media is reverberating loudly through the pens of citizen journalists who don’t accept the press release mentality of Washington.
Maybe it’s time to rephrase the old adage “The pen is mightier than the sword” and see if there is not a more modern expression. But the truth is unchanged: The written word can be used to stir the masses or to still the masses. My fellow truth seekers-- WRITE ON!
Obama Appointee Wants Soviet-styled Media
April 16, 2009
It’s bad enough the Obama administration has pledged trillions to “bailout” the bankers and has made moves to control business in the private sector. Now they want a Soviet-styled media financed and run by the government.
“Influential Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks has hung up her journalistic hat and joined the Obama administration, but not before penning a public proposal calling for some radical ideas to help bail out the failing news industry,” reports Fox News.
Brooks, who has taken up a post as an adviser at the Pentagon, advocated upping “direct government support for public media” and creating licenses to govern news operations.
“Years of foolish policies have left us with a choice: We can bail out journalism, using tax dollars and granting licenses in ways that encourage robust and independent reporting and commentary, or we can watch, wringing our hands, as more and more top journalists are laid off,” she wrote in her parting column on April 9.
You can only imagine how such licenses would govern Infowars and the alternative media.
In the former Soviet Union, Pravda was an organ of the CPSU Central Committee, while Izvestiya was published by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.
Ms. Brooks is advocating a likewise scheme here in America, formerly a land that respected the idea of an independent press and the First Amendment. She would put an end to all of this once and for all with her suggestion that media be licensed by the state.
Brooks said her authoritarian scheme would help rescue the corporate media from a “death spiral” and left the government unaccountable to the journalists who must keep it honest. “[I] can’t imagine anything more dangerous than a society in which the news industry has more or less collapsed,” she wrote.
Why is the corporate media in the process of collapsing? Because a growing number of people get their news from the internet and alternative media sources. Large numbers of people no longer trust the corporate media to tell the truth. Corporate media is a dinosaur that needs to either reinvent itself or go the way of the Brontosaurus.
Instead, this Obama appointee wants to turn the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times (where she worked before joining team Obama) into Izvestiya.
But then the argument is academic. The New York Times and the rest of the corporate media is owned and operated by the same corporatist and Wall Street leviathans that financed and supported the Soviet Union.
Washington Post Promotes Agendas of Power Elite
In an article published by the media watchdog group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), [writer Doug] Henwood traced the Washington Post's Establishment connections to Eugene Meyer, who took control of the Post in 1933. Meyer transferred ownership to his daughter Katharine and her husband, Philip Graham, after World War II, when he was appointed by Harry S. Truman to serve as the first president of the World Bank. Meyer had been "a Wall Street banker, director of President Wilson's War Finance Corporation, a governor of the Federal Reserve System, and director of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation,"
Henwood wrote.
Philip Graham, Meyer's successor, had been in military intelligence during the war. When he became the Post's publisher, he continued to have close contact with his fellow upper-class intelligence veterans—now making policy at the newly formed CIA—and actively promoted the CIA's goals in his newspaper. The incestuous relationship between the Post and the intelligence community even extended to its hiring practices. Watergate-era editor Ben Bradlee also had an intelligence background; and before he became a journalist, reporter Bob Woodward was an officer in Naval Intelligence.
In a 1977 article in Rolling Stone magazine about CIA influence in American media, Woodward's partner, Carl Bernstein, quoted this from a CIA official: "It was widely known that Phil Graham was somebody you could get help from." Graham has been identified by some investigators as the main contact in Project Mockingbird, the CIA program to infiltrate domestic American media. In her autobiography, Katharine Graham described how her husband worked overtime at the Post during the Bay of Pigs operation to protect the reputations of his friends from Yale who had organized the ill-fated venture.
After Graham committed suicide, and his widow Katharine assumed the role of publisher, she continued her husband's policies of supporting the efforts of the intelligence community in advancing the foreign policy and economic agenda of the nation's ruling elites. In a retrospective column written after her own death, FAIR analyst Norman Solomon wrote, "Her newspaper mainly functioned as a helpmate to the war-makers in the White House, State Department and Pentagon." It accomplished this function (and continues to do so) using all the classic propaganda techniques of evasion, confusion, misdirection, targeted emphasis, disinformation, secrecy, omission of important facts, and selective leaks.
Disappearing Daily Newspapers
Trust factors, Loss of advertising
By Alan Caruba
Saturday, March 14, 2009
As someone who began his career in journalism, working for weeklies, moving on to a daily, and later seeing my by-line on occasion in The New York Times, I have a nostalgic fondness for newsprint. I actually start my day reading my local daily, albeit mostly checking the obituary pages—it’s an age thing—and having a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
Then, in order to really know what is going on in the nation and the world, I surf the Net for an hour, visiting various news and opinion websites (some of which post my writings). It is virtually impossible to get a sense of reality from newspapers that continue to tell you that the Earth is in a midst of a perilous global warming that will require shutting down all the coal-fired plants in the nation.
Since new technology drives out old technology, accounting for why two percent of the population now feeds all the rest of us, it should come as no surprise that great city newspapers are dying for loss of classified and other advertising. The other reason is that most newswire and daily news reporting simply cannot be trusted any more.
Historically, American newspapers were often notorious for having their own agenda, but they were just as often the only game in town if you wanted the news. Some cities supported four, five or more newspapers depending on your own bias. The notion of the “objective” reporter was always suspect, but my generation of reporters did not feel that their job description included agreeing with their publisher on all issues.
The most egregious example is the alleged “environmental” reporting in The New York Times which has never reflected the actual science of global warming and other Green obsessions. For some twenty years or more, it has had a succession of reporters, all of whom were astonishingly indifferent to science or even the truth.
The latest is Andrew Revkin who was unable to ignore the fact that 700 or so of the world’s leading climatologists, meteorologists, physicists, economists, and others were meeting in New York this passed week to debunk global warming. His report on the event was an insult to those participating and attending.
This is how Revkin described The Heartland Institute’s second annual International Conference on Climate Change: “More than 600 self-professed climate skeptics are meeting in a Times Square hotel this week to challenge what has become a broad scientific and political consensus: that without big changes in energy choices, humans will dangerously heat up the planet.”
If you were hoping for any accurate reporting in that sentence or the rest of his article, you are still waiting for it. I was there. One of the items I brought home was a thick book filled with the names of 31,478 American scientists who signed a global warming petition, agreeing that “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, will cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” There is no “broad scientific and political consensus.”
As Jim Peden, an atmospheric physicist, noted in an email to fellow skeptics, “I think we’re all being a bit too hard on Revkin. He is, after all, only doing his job…to support and defend the liberal editorial policies of his employers. In case you haven’t noticed, the New York Times, once arguably one of the premier news sources on the planet, is slowly dying. It hasn’t had a genuinely honest journalist on its staff in more than two decades, and anyone who attempts to put the genie back in the bottle at this late stage of the game would likely find himself out of a job.”
Meanwhile, the United Press International devoted four thin paragraphs to the conference citing “signs of internal disputes and weakening support.” Nothing could have been further from the truth. Little wonder Rush Limbaugh refers to them as “the drive-by media.”
This is, I believe, an increasing component of the reason U.S. dailies such as Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and a host of cities are going to be down to having one or no daily newspaper. The news they have been delivering is not reliably true or even an effort to reflect a balanced presentation of conflicting versions of events and issues.
It must be said that publishing a newspaper is a tremendously labor-intensive undertaking requiring a phalanx of reporters and editors backed up by an advertising department, a circulation department, the men who actually print it, and those who then deliver it. There is almost no way to trim such people from the payroll without doing grave injury to the process and the product.
That is particularly evident when it comes to local reporting, the heart and soul of a newspaper. Somebody must attend the many meetings of the city council, the transportation and education boards, ad infinitum. Some newspapers will survive by becoming solely their website.
It is entirely likely that, in the future, someone will attend and will then post their reports on Internet sites specific to the topic of interest. You will bookmark a variety of such local sites to keep up to date. In the meantime, there are already countless sites that are devoted to what’s going on in hometowns everywhere.
Let me tell you a story. Once, very long ago, I was auditioning for a job with the daily newspaper serving a vast swath of my home State. The editor asked me to write a series on the local chapters of the Humane Society and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. What I unearthed was a great deal of hypocrisy and degrees of corrupt behavior. When I turned in the assignment, the editor said to me, “I don’t think you understand. I wanted something along the lines of Jane and her pet duck, not a wholesale exposure of these people. Pet owners would be enraged.”
Well, yes, that was the point. Suffice it to say that I decided to take up public relations where, at least, I could earn a lot more than a lowly reporter. I also lost a large degree of respect for what passed for journalism then and, over the years, now.
So, yes, local dailies, some with illustrious histories, are shutting down. They will be missed, but they will be replaced by some very lively, engaged, and hopefully accurate Internet reporting that has long since been missing from what passes for daily newspapers these days.
Rather Decries Corporate Control of News

Ex-CBS Anchor Says Government And Corporate Influence Over Newsrooms Spurred Lawsuit:
"Somebody, sometime has got to take a stand and say democracy cannot survive, much less thrive with the level of big corporate and big government interference and intimidation in news," he said on CNN's "Larry King Live."
"They sacrificed support for independent journalism for corporate financial gain, and in so doing, I think they undermined a lot at CBS News," he told King.

Rush Limbaugh

"I don't consider myself an offensive guy. I'm just a harmless, lovable little fuzzball."
Rush "Rusty" Hudson Limbaugh III has enjoyed remarkable success as the Republican version of Howard Stern for nearly twenty years. His vaudevillian radio comedy stylings, combined with an ever present ability to enrage liberal Democrats with simple turns of phrase are worthy of anyone's attention during long, slow drives through evening traffic.
His love for tickling and toying with listeners is matched only by his confidence. Limbaugh weaves incendiary emotional tapestries of fact, fiction and half-truths delivered with precision timing. He lambasted Bill Clinton with clockwork regularity, and continues to tout Ronald Reagan as the greatest President of all time. Limbaugh's observations are trimmed of unnecessary explanation, and his skill at wordsmithery (i.e. coining the phrase feminazi) has often been compared to that of rapper Eminem.
Facts dispensed by Limbaugh are almost never questioned during his program. A hostile caller rarely gets through screeners, and his TV show was regularly delivered before a live, cheering studio audience. Limbaugh doesn't debate - he prefers to forge a media empire largely based on unchallenged monologues or scripted chains of thought.
Limbaugh was a chubby debating student in high school, and he didn't date much. Socializing in groups wasn't something he was comfortable with outside the safety of a studio. Over his course of his career, he'd get hired and fired from numerous radio stations (KGMO, KQV, WXYZ, KUDL, KFIX, KMBZ), for his assertive, outspoken demeanor. Many of his peers thought he was snobbish. On-air discussions grew heated, and often he simply disconnected callers mid-sentence. He refused to stick to a format. He made personal attacks, heavy on political commentary. Personality clashes with management and station owners were commonplace - and like Howard Stern, Limbaugh's satire wasn't immediately appreciated.
In 1984, Limbaugh replaced Morton Downey Jr. at KFBK in Sacramento, where he had almost free reign of the airwaves from 9:00am until noon. He refused guests on his show, firmly believing he should forge ahead only on his own merits and the interaction between himself and callers. KFBK defended him to critics - and Rush demonstrated his appreciation by accepting another contract from WABC, and moving to New York. Within a month, his program was carried nationally by 55 radio stations.
His first on-screen work came as a guest host on The Pat Sajak Show, in early 1990. Members of the audience grew extremely angry with Rush's snide commentary - to the point where during a commercial break, the entire studio was cleared. He performed the final segment alone and shaken.
For a long while, Rush Limbaugh and activist liberal Democrat Larry King engaged in a battle. Both have mounted massive offensives against one another. Although King regarded Limbaugh as a "right-wing kook," Rush was invited on Larry King Live for an interview. When Rush showed up in his trademarked suit and tie - he was miffed to learn that Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak, not King, would be conducting the interview.
Rush later released this statement: "I want to salute the producers of Survivor II and CBS. I want to salute them for their courage, boldness and conviction. They have decided to go ahead and air their finale tonight, despite the fact that I will be appearing live for the full hour on Larry King Live on CNN with guest host Pat Sajak."
His stance on the environment is legendary. In his best seller, The Way Things Ought To Be, he informs readers that Mount Pintaubo in the Philippines spewed forth more than a thousand times the amount of ozone-depleting chemicals in one eruption than all the chlorofluorocarbons manufactured by all the wicked, diabolical and insensitive industrial corporations in human history. His argument: mankind can't possibly equal the output of even a single Pinatubo eruption - much less 4 billion year's worth of them, so how can we destroy the ozone? Balderdash and poppycock, he insists. The only people who worry about the environment are wackos, dunderheaded alarmists and prophets of doom.
Less than a month after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, Rush delivered startling news to his radio audience of millions:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm now totally deaf in my left ear. I cannot hear a thing in my left ear, with hearing aids, the most powerful made, mean nothing. I have the ability to recognize sound but not identify it in my right ear. I cannot communicate with people. I can occasionally talk to people in person one on one if their voice frequency happens to fit the range that I can still hear, but I cannot hear radio, I cannot hear television, I cannot hear music. I am, for all practical purposes, deaf, and it's happened in three months. I have been to what I learned were the finest doctors and clinics throughout the country, focusing on one, and every effort has been made to stabilize the loss, with the hope of restoring it. No success has been reported, in either stabilizing it or losing it - or restoring it."
"To describe for you the way I hear things now, I understand what I'm saying, but I think it's more because I know what I'm going to say, rather than I'm actually hearing it. I feel it, I feel the vocal vibrations in my skull, but in terms of actually hearing what I say, that -- I don't really -- I don't know if I am or not. Other people, depending on their voice range, if they're loud and speak slowly enough and are close enough to me, then I can hear them, but this is relatively new. The past ten days it's been this case. Ten days ago, two weeks ago I was able to conduct a normal conversation, just a couple of times, "Say that again, please?" But now it's deteriorated to the point that, for all clinical, practical purposes, if I take the right-side hearing aid out, I do not hear a single thing -- zip, zero, nada. I don't hear smoke alarms."
Since that time, Rush Limbaugh has re-learned how to hear again. He married Marta Fitzgerald, a woman he met on the Internet.
The Quotable Limbaugh ...
On homosexuality:
"When a gay person turns his back on you, it's anything but an insult - it's an invitation. The difference between Los Angeles and yogurt is that yogurt comes with less fruit."
On the homeless: "One of the things I want to do before I die is conduct the Homeless Olympics. The 10-meter Shopping Cart Relay, the Dumpster Dig, and the Hop, Skip and Trip."
On NAFTA: "If we are going to start rewarding no skills and stupid people--I'm serious, let the unskilled jobs, let the kinds of jobs that take absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to do--let stupid and unskilled Mexicans do that work."
On Native Americans: "There are more American Indians alive today than there were when Columbus arrived or at any other time in history. Does this sound like a record of Genocide?"
On feminism: "Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream. Women were doing quite well in this country before feminism came along."
On feminazis: "Militant feminists are pro-choice because it's their ultimate avenue of power over men... It is their attempt to impose their will on the rest of society, particularly on men."
On corporate layoffs: "Why is it that whenever a corporation fires workers, it's never speculated that the workers might have deserved it?"
On Kurt Cobain: "Kurt Cobain was, ladies and gentleman, was a worthless shred of human debris."
Speculating as to how a Mexican won the New York marathon: "An immigration agent chased him for the last 10 miles."
Gingrich Bites the Hand that Fed Him
In September 2008, as the U.S. Congress "was debating the first financial bailout, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich went on Fox News to decry how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had so 'many politicians beholden to them' that no one would step up to protect the American taxpayers," notes But, as it turns out, Freddie Mac paid Gingrich $300,000 in 2006, "to push back against tough, new regulations of the mortgage company at a time the Bush administration was concerned about how big the two government-backed mortgage giants had become." After taking the money, Gingrich "talked and wrote about what he saw as the benefits of the Freddie Mac business model," reported the Associated Press. The Gingrich hire was part of an effort to woo conservatives.
How the press failed on Iraq
A hard look back at the past five years -- with all its death and destruction and missteps -- reveals that the American media has been sleepwalking through the war.
By Greg Mitchell Mar. 11, 2008 Stephen Colbert's routine at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2006 was celebrated or lamented for his pointed barbs at the president while Bush sat just a few feet away. What many may forget, however, is that his critique of the press was just as biting -- and widely resented by many of the journalists in attendance. Some of the same guests had attended a similar dinner two years earlier and roared with laughter when the president aired a goofy video which showed him looking around the White House for those darn missing WMDs (as dozens of American kids were dying in Iraq that month).
One of Colbert's passages could serve as an epitaph for the early coverage of the war. Addressing the reporters in the hall, Colbert, in his faux right-wing blowhard persona, said, "Let's review the rules. Here's how it works. The president makes decisions, he's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell-check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know -- fiction."
Perhaps, as Colbert had observed when he was still on "The Daily Show," it's all Saddam Hussein's fault -- for not having those weapons of mass destruction. Surely, if we'd found them, public opinion about the media's performance before and after the U.S. invasion in 2003 would have remained at favorable levels far longer. Yet the fact that we did not find WMD did not inspire much of the media to quickly look more deeply, and with more skepticism, at how we got into the war. Nor did it seem to shred the authority most commentators continued to grant the president, Pentagon officials, and others involved in planning and running the war. Not even the disgraceful propaganda campaigns surrounding the capture of Jessica Lynch and the friendly-fire killing of Pat Tillman accomplished that.
As events unfolded in Iraq over many months, and then years, since the 2003 invasion, some of us old-timers -- David Halberstam, to name another -- who had lived through the Vietnam era knew that the longer we stayed, the longer we'd have to stay, to justify the invasion and all the killing and maiming since we'd arrived on the scene. At least this would be the view of those directing the war, calcified editorial writers at The Washington Post and various hosts and guests on cable news channels.
As years passed, reporters in Iraq (and some in Washington) grew more skeptical, but by then it was too late. Editorial pages and TV pundits, meanwhile, lagged far behind the public -- and even behind some conservative Republicans in Congress -- in failing to cry "enough!" Victory, or at least a decisive turning point, was always just around the next IED-blasted corner, in their view.
In early 2007, with the announcement of the "surge" of troops in Iraq, TV commentators punted at the most crucial moment since the invasion of Iraq -- and not a single major newspaper came out against the escalation until after it was announced. They were all sleepwalking into the abyss. Even if the "surge" proved relatively successful, it would guarantee at least several more years of heavy U.S. presence in Iraq, and the deaths of thousands of more Americans.
By the time of Gen. David Petraeus's report to Congress in September 2007 -- giving a thumb's up to Gen. David Petraeus's handling of the "surge" -- media commentary had grown more critical. Still, The Washington Post editorial page and legions of pundits continued to back the war, despite their promises, months earlier, to withdraw support if "benchmarks" were not met. Glenn Greenwald, the popular Salon blogger, described the formula this way: "1) If X does not happen, there is no justification for staying; 2) X has not happened; 3) we must stay."
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Much of what journalists need to know about public officials can be summed up in two words: as the muckraker I. F. Stone once advised, "Governments lie." Early in my training as a reporter in the late 1960s -- in journalism school and on a daily newspaper -- I was taught to always be skeptical of statements, by those in authority, that just might be self-serving. (At the time, I only got a chance to put that into practice in interviewing the local mayor or housing department chief.) A few years later, the lies of President Nixon -- on the war, on Watergate, on not being a crook -- promoted a period of aggressive probing throughout the news business.
Sure, some in the media went overboard, trying to be the next Woodward or Bernstein; but better to be overly skeptical than overly credulous. We saw the result of the latter, three decades later, surrounding the run-up to the Iraq adventure, and then in too much of the mainstream coverage since. Who can forget the days when simply questioning the evidence of WMD in Iraq made you appear weak-kneed or even, god forbid, "French"?
Thomas Ricks, the military reporter for The Washington Post (and author of a fine book about the war, aptly titled "Fiasco"), spoke volumes when he explained his paper's failures in the ramp-up to the war in 2003 by saying, "There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all the contrary stuff?" His colleague Karen DeYoung put it in even more appalling terms: "We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power." Walter Isaacson, who headed CNN when the war began, later informed Bill Moyers that "big people in corporations were calling up" when the network showed civilian casualties, declaring, "You're being anti-American here." Bob Simon, the CBS correspondent, told Moyers that covering the marketing of the war was so "explosive" that he felt he should "keep it, in a way, almost light -- if that doesn't seem ridiculous."
While most of the reporters in Iraq recovered from their early rah-rah "we are taking Baghdad" coverage to produce years of tough-minded and valuable work (to the extent that it was possible amid the horrid violence), their counterparts on the home front often fell down on the job. At times, it seemed that they, not their colleagues traveling with our armed forces in Iraq, were the "embedded" reporters operating under fear of censorship or sanctions for stepping out of line. Declarations from the White House or the military about "progress" in Iraq, or assertions that Iran or al-Qaeda were the true villains there, were reported widely, with contrasting evidence often buried.
Few if any journalists were brave enough to nakedly declare, at any of the many apt opportunities since 2003, that a scheme is not a vision (to borrow the Leonard Cohen lyric). When Chris Matthews, after the U.S. took Baghdad, declared on MSNBC that "We're all neo-cons now," he acted as if that "all" included the press and that this was somehow a good thing. Blindfolding our democracy rarely strengthens us on the battlefield. No lesson for the future could be more clear than the need to take with a huge grain of salt every statement by any official who just might be pushing a cause or covering his ass. Even an emperor -- or a Colin Powell -- sometimes wears no clothes.
Then there was the failure to visually reveal the true horror of what was transpiring in the war. It was bad enough that the Pentagon banned photos of returning coffins; but then TV producers and newspaper editors on their own chose to display few images of the carnage, sanitizing a bloody landscape. Some photographers complained, and Pim Van Hemmen, assistant managing editor for photography at The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., said in 2005, "We in the news business are not doing a very good job of showing our readers what has really happened over there." The U.S. media provided few images of the human cost of war while news outlets in Europe did show photos of dead or wounded.
The past five years of death, destruction and global setback for America's security and image reveal some of the consequences of the media failure to ask more questions, and too often accept weak or misleading answers. Who can forget the Greatest Hits: "Mission Accomplished," "Judy Miller's Turn to Cry," "The Friedman Unit," "It's All in the Plame," "The Armor We Went to War With," "Surging USA," and all the rest.
Will the lessons be heeded? Certainly, few of those who promoted the war based on false information have lost any standing in the media, even if they did lose respect from some in the audience. The Washington Post, for example, not only continued to carry columns by several regulars who had repeatedly misfired on the war -- and mocked anti-war critics -- but it even went out and hired Michael Gerson, President Bush's main speechwriter during the run-up to the invasion. William Kristol, one of the war's intellectual architects, kept his Time column, contributed Op-Eds to the Post, and didn't seem to lose any face time on TV -- then got a plum Op-Ed spot at The New York Times. The Post's editorial page, meanwhile, remained hawkish on the war through thick and thin, often contrary to virtually everything emerging in the paper's own news pages. Will Rogers once said that the first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole is quit digging. In regard to the Iraq catastrophe, the media not only helped excavate the hole, it did not do nearly enough to help America dig out.