Stupid question really.. We already know the obvious answer.
Where is Edward R. Murrow..? Is there no one willing to follow in his steps? Show his courage? His conviction? His commitment to the truth against all odds?
There have been a lot of news correspondents and reporters responding to the claims in Scott McClellan’s new book that the media were “too deferential to the White House”.
As one would expect, the talking heads were all pretty defensive and quick to defend themselves.
Here are a couple of things that jumped out at me:
“I remember doing an interview and the press secretary called our executive producer and said, ‘We didn’t like the tone of that interview.’ And we said, ‘Well, tough. We had to ask some of these questions.’ And they said, ‘If you keep it up, we’re gonna block access to you during the war.’ ”
She said that NBC did not buckle under, but, she added, “There was insidious pressure that I do think actually affected some of the coverage by the media outlets.”
“There was such a significant march to war, and people who questioned it very early on and as the war progressed were really considered unpatriotic,” added Couric. “I think that it did affect the level of aggressiveness that was exercised by the media, I really do.”
Williams agreed that the White House put tremendous pressure on news organizations to hew to the scripted administration line. “I was in Kuwait for the buildup to the war, and, yes, we heard from the Pentagon, on my cell phone, the minute they heard us report something that they didn’t like. The tone of that time was quite extraordinary.”
The press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war presented in way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings. And my own experience at the White House was that the higher the president’s approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives…to put on positive stories about the president.
“[T]hey would edit my pieces,” Yellin said. “They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical, and try to put on pieces that were more positive.”
Anyone at the beginning of the war that spoke out were most definitely labeled as being “unpatriotic”. The best example of this has to be what happened to Phil Donahue.
From an article today by Glenn Greenwald:
At the same time, MSNBC fired the only real war opponent it had, Phil Donahue, despite very healthy ratings (the highest of any show on MSNBC, including “Hardball”).
A leaked memo from NBC executives at the time of his firing made clear that Donahue was fired for ideological reasons, not due to ratings:
The study went on to claim that Donahue presented a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war . . . . He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration’s motives.” The report went on to outline a possible nightmare scenario where the show becomes “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”
The fallout of Scott McClellan’s book could get very interesting indeed. He seems to have sprayed a hose on a hornet’s nest..
It does no good for the press to come out and make excuses now. Its too little too late. The damage is already done. TOO MANY people are already dead. Our Constitution is already toast. Our economy is already in the tank. Our military is already broken. Laws are now meaningless. Trust is already gone. Congress is already irrelevant. When you could have made a difference, you didn’t.
If you really care about doing the right thing, start reporting the truth NOW! Ask the hard questions NOW! Dig deep NOW! Do your job NOW!
Oh, and Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), a key Bush antagonist and member of the House Judiciary Committee, says McClellan needs to tell Congress the full story about potential White House conspiring around the leak of a CIA officer’s name and propaganda efforts that preceded the invasion of Iraq.
The words of Edward R. Murrow (again..)
See It Now (1954)
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men— not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.
This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. “