The Stars Hollow Gazette

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You know, at one time I aspired to Journalism.  I think any politically active child of an age to have experienced Watergate did as soon as they gave up on being an Astronaut (which I did young because of my poor eyesight óò).  Since l’affair Lewinski though I have become really radicalized about ‘The Press’ and now view 98% with a pure passionate contempt which while white hot is but a dwarf compared to the Rigelian levels they deserve.

The press is a gang of cruel faggots.  Journalism is not a profession or a trade.  It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits – a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.

(I)t (is) a low trade and a habit worse than heroin, a strange seedy world full of misfits and drunkards and failures.  The business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.  There’s also a negative side.

Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long.- Hunter Thompson

The transcript of last night’s Hardball is up and it does Gregory no more credit today than his video last night.

Media Matters has a pretty good summary with the emphasis in the appropriate places-

CHRIS MATTHEWS (host): Let’s take a look at what McClellan had to say here about the media.

Here he is, faulting the press. He wrote, quote, “If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq. The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war should never have come as such a surprise. In this case, the,” quote, “liberal media,” close quote, “didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.”


GREGORY: I think he’s wrong. He makes the same kind of argument a lot of people on the left have made. I tried not to be defensive about it. I’ve thought a lot about this over a number of years, and I disagree with that assessment.

I think the questions were asked. I think we pushed. I think we prodded. I think we challenged the president. I think not only those of us in the White House press corps did that, but others in the rest of the landscape of the media did that.

If there wasn’t a debate in this country, then maybe the American people should think about, why not? Where was Congress? Where was the House? Where was the Senate? Where was public opinion about the war? What did the former president believe about the prewar intelligence? He agreed that — in fact, Bill Clinton agreed that Saddam had WMD.

The right questions were asked. I think there’s a lot of critics — and I guess we can count Scott McClellan as one — who thinks that if we did not debate the president, debate the policy in our role as journalists, if we did not stand up and say, “This is bogus,” and “You’re a liar,” and “Why are you doing this?” that we didn’t do our job. And I respectfully disagree. It’s not our role.

As Ryan Chiachiere notes this is just wrong on many levels.  For one thing, “In fact, a majority of congressional Democrats voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in October 2002. Of the 258 Democrats in Congress at the time, 147 voted against the resolution, while 110 voted for it.”  He correctly points out Eric Boehlert’s May 28th column Why did the press ignore Ted Kennedy in 2002?

(B)ack in September 2002, with the Bush administration and much of the Beltway media rushing to embrace war with Iraq, Kennedy delivered a passionate, provocative, and newsworthy speech raising all sorts of doubts about a possible invasion. Unlike today, the political press wasn’t very interested in Kennedy or what he had to say about the most pressing issue facing the nation. Back in that media environment, being the voice of American liberals didn’t mean much.

I’ve been thinking about Kennedy’s speech a lot lately. Not just because the senator has been in the news, but also because of the Pentagon’s still-unfolding propaganda scandal involving retired U.S. generals who, at times, were used as puppets on network and cable television during the war, where they repeated administration talking points while presenting themselves as independent analysts. That outlets eagerly embraced the Pentagon’s pro-war generals while mostly dismissing Kennedy’s warnings perfectly captured the media’s mindset during the run-up to the war.

To really get a sense of the damage done by that propaganda initiative and to appreciate just how badly the press fell down as professional skeptics who are supposed to hold people in power accountable, it’s instructive to revisit the media environment of late 2002 and early 2003.

And looking back, a key turning point during that public rush to war was Kennedy’s fervent and thoughtful speech. It was a turning point because it highlighted, months before the invasion even took place, how the press was going to deal with high-profile, articulate critics of Bush’s war policy. The press was going to downplay them, marginalize them, and ignore them. Even if those critics included high-wattage political stars like Ted Kennedy.

For me another key quote of Gregory’s is-

(A) lot of critics… think(s) that if we did not debate the president, debate the policy in our role as journalists, if we did not stand up and say, “This is bogus,” and “You’re a liar,” and “Why are you doing this?” that we didn’t do our job. And I respectfully disagree. It’s not our role.

As Greenwald says-

The central excuse offered by self-defending “journalists” is that they didn’t present an anti-war case because nobody was making that case, and it’s not their job to create debate. This unbelievably rotted view found its most darkly hilarious expression in a 2007 David Ignatius column in The Washington Post. After explaining how proud he is of his support for the attack on Iraq, Igantius explains why there wasn’t much challenge made to the Administration’s case for war (h/t Ivan Carterr):

In a sense, the media were victims of their own professionalism. Because there was little criticism of the war from prominent Democrats and foreign policy analysts, journalistic rules meant we shouldn’t create a debate on our own. And because major news organizations knew the war was coming, we spent a lot of energy in the last three months before the war preparing to cover it.

They were “victims of their own professionalism.” It’s not up to them to create a debate where none exists. That’s the same thing Charlie Gibson, David Gregory, and Tim Russert — among others — have all said in defending themselves.

The idea that journalists only convey statements from politicians rather than “create debates” is the classic Stenographic Model of “Journalism” — “we just write down what people say. It’s not our job to do anything else.” Real reporting is about uncovering facts that the political elite try to conceal, not ones they willingly broadcast. It’s about investigating and exposing — not mindlessly amplifying — the falsehoods and deceit of government claims. But our modern “journalists” (with some noble exceptions) don’t do that not only because they can’t do it, but also because they don’t think it’s their job. That’s because, by definition, they’re not journalists.

Or as Stephen Colbert put it-

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. Just put ’em 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!

More Greenwald (op. cite)-

(T)his is not a matter of mere historical interest. This is not about how the media operated five years ago during an aberrational time in our history. This is about how they functioned then and how they function now. The same people who did all of this still run these media organizations and it’s the same coddled, made-up personalities still playing the role of “journalist.”

That’s what makes the NYT “military analyst” story so significant, and it’s why it’s so revealing that the establishment media black-out of that story continues. Not just in 2003, but through 2008, the networks relied upon Pentagon-controlled propagandists to masquerade as their “independent analysts.” Those analysts repeatedly spouted patently false government propaganda without challenge. The numerous financial incentives and ideological ties these analysts had were concealed. And these networks, now that this is all revealed and even with multiple investigations underway, still refuse to tell their viewers about any of it.

David the Dancer is hardly alone, this attitude is pervasive.

Network news anchors praise the job they did in the run-up to the war

Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Wednesday May 28, 2008 11:45 EDT

Here is an absolutely amazing link to a video where the three network news anchors appeared jointly on The Today Show this morning and were forced by McClellan’s book to address whether the media failed in its duties in the run-up to the war — the first time, to my knowledge, that this topic has ever been broached by network news journalists (h/t Kitt). The fact that television news has blacked-out the whole issue until now is, by itself, rather amazing.

While Katie Couric impressively argued that the media did fail to do its job — pointing out that the White House threatened networks which were perceived to be too critical with cutting off access to the war and that anyone who questioned the war was deemed unpatriotic and all of that “affected the level of aggressiveness that was exercised by the media” — the painfully empty-headed Charlie Gibson and the mindlessly establishment-defending Brian Williams both insisted that the media did a perfectly fine job and that they would do nothing different. “There was a lot of skepticism raised about” the Colin Powell speech, said Gibson, in one of the falsest statements ever uttered on TV. He continued:

I think the questions were asked. I respectfully disagree with the gentle lady from the Columbia Broadcasting System [group giggles]. I think the questions were asked. . . . I can remember getting in trouble with administration officials for asking questions they didn’t feel comfortable with.

It was just a drumbeat of support from the administration. And it is not our job to debate them; it’s our job to ask the questions.

Indeed. Perish the thought that journalists should be adversarial to our political officials, challenge what they say or point out when they’re lying. Instead, their job is merely to pose polite questions, let political officials say what they want in response, and then go home — just as Charlie Gibson said. This is why most establishment journalists will never be convinced that they failed to do their job, no matter how much evidence is presented: because of the understanding they have of what “their job” actually is. If anything, by Gibson’s understanding of what they’re supposed to be doing, they did their job brilliantly, by letting Bush officials go on their shows and — as Cheney aide Cathy Martin said about what happens when they went on Tim Russert — “allow[ing Bush officials] to control the message.”

In another recent posting Glenn cites this April 13th, 2004 piece from The Carpet Bagger Report

The last time there was a prime time news conference, reporters acted as if they were afraid to say anything. They were so docile, one wondered if Karl Rove had drugged them before it began.

The New York Times’ Elisabeth Bumiller noted, months later:

“I think we were very deferential because … it’s live, it’s very intense, it’s frightening to stand up there. Think about it, you’re standing up on prime-time live TV asking the president of the United States a question when the country’s about to go to war. There was a very serious, somber tone that evening, and no one wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time.”

Sure, this turns the idea of an adversarial press on its head, but reporters were happy to roll over and play dead in March 2003. If they want to regain their reputation, they’ll be a little more aggressive this evening.

(I)t’ll be interesting to see how well the White House tries to manage every aspect of the event. At the last event, Bush aides pre-selected certain journalists who would be allowed to ask questions. Bush avoided reporters who may ask “hard” questions and instead went with those who served up softballs. He admitted that the entire event was “scripted” and even asked a reporter if she had a question even though she didn’t have her hand raised.

Did I mention it’s pervasive?

The Villagers Defend The Perimeter


5/27/2008 04:59:00 PM

If we are now believing that Chris Matthews is a “net plus” for American politics, then the reality based community has followed the Bush administration straight down the rabbit hole.

Oh, and as for the “appeasement” humilation that everyone took so much pleasure in, I’m sorry, but it reminded me a great deal of an earlier episode this year where Matthews browbeat Texas state senator Kirk Watson for several minutes because he couldn’t name Obama’s legislative accomplishments. Let’s just say that I’d be a lot more impressed with Matthews’ pitbull routine if he used it, just once, on somebody with some real clout instead of low level nobodies who don’t appear on TV regularly. Bullying people without power just doesn’t impress me much, especially when you have people on the show every day who actually have some and you kiss their asses with gusto. Sorry, not impressed.

I can’t believe the other day I saw David Neiwert cutting Joke Line slack.  Our criticism of the “News” media must be unrelenting.

It’s most viseral effect is that it’s embarrassing for those who are still capable of feeling shame.  Listening to Dave the Dancer you couldn’t help but hear his outrage that anyone would suggest that he was less than vigorous in questioning the propaganda and lies that the pusilanimous press including him peddled to the public.

30% of them still believe Saddam was making A-Bombs in his basement and piloted the 9-11 planes himself.

Another negative effect they fear is losing our eyeballs.  It’s all about the ratings on so many levels and TV looks at dead tree and knows it’s on Dodo watch.  Soon enough the only audience they will attract is those who can’t read or write, mostly because that’s the mentality they program for.  Shifts in consumer habits have their impact on your revenue stream at every level and if the product ain’t selling time to sell something else.

In terms of positive effects criticism can educate.  Too many people believe everything they read on the net or in the newspaper, or see on TV or in the movies.  If you wish to be reality based it’s important to remember Wookies don’t really exist.

It can also inform.  By constantly exposing people to inconvenient truths and facts and stuff, criticism can chip away at that 30% ignorance.  They may still not believe it, but at least they won’t be able to say they never heard THAT THERE WERE NO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION… ANYWHERE!

It was all a lie.

And you can’t stand there Dave and tell me you don’t know who ate all the cookies when you have chip stains on your hands, crumbs on your lips, and cookie breath.  You have no credibility.

And credibility and information is all you have to sell.

Here’s why I call him Dancing Dave-


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  1. This is more what I had in mind.

  2. i smiled and walked up to him. first, i asked him if he was there as a citizen. he showed me his reporters slender steno-sized notebook. so, i had to ask: when did he think the press might get back to doing its job. you know… like reporting verifiable facts with as little slant as possible, and providing some real analysis instead of pandering punditry…

    he said he thought the media had done its job all along. oh, and btw, he said, he thought the country was tired of this… the war and the protesting. he observed that it wasn’t such an impressive moratorium. i told him it was my impression that americans were tired of the MSM, not those of us fighting to stop the war or George Bush and his destructive politics and policies.

    i told him he should get online more. the protesting was happening every day and, btw dana, we’re yelling louder.

    he thanked me and walked away, with his reporter’s pad held in his hand.

  3. this was great…

    And you can’t stand there Dave and tell me you don’t know who ate all the cookies when you have chip stains on your hands, crumbs on your lips, and cookie breath.  You have no credibility.

    And credibility and information is all you have to sell.

    credibility. i could almost cry looking at that word.

  4. Kennedy’s speech was particularly interesting to me. I don’t even remember hearing about it. That’s sad.

    But I DO remember Howard Dean being marginalized by the press – all while being embraced by the people. And I remember Paul Wellstone voting against the IWR – knowing that it was likely to cost him his re-election.

    And in terms of speeches, I remember Senator Robert Byrd’s blistering speech on the Senate floor.

    Part 1

    Part 2

    It was all there, if any journalist cared to listen.

  5. Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.  ~Ben Hecht

    If you saw a man drowning and you could either save him or photograph the event… what kind of film would you use?  ~Author Unknown

    I am unable to understand how a man of honor could take a newspaper in his hands without a shudder of disgust.  ~Charles Baudelaire

    The evening papers print what they do and get away with it because by afternoon the human mind is ruined anyhow.  ~Christopher Morley, Kitty Foyle

    Once a newspaper touches a story, the facts are lost forever, even to the protagonists.  ~Norman Mailer

    You can crush a man with journalism.  ~William Randolph Hearst

    Editor:  A person employed on a newspaper whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed.  ~Elbert Hubbard

    In the real world, the right thing never happens in the right place and the right time.  It is the job of journalists and historians to make it appear that it has.  ~Mark Twain

    I fear three newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets.  ~Napoleon

    People everywhere confuse

    What they read in newspapers with news.

    ~A.J. Liebling, The New Yorker, 7 April 1956

    If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.  ~Malcolm X

    I do not mean to be the slightest bit critical of TV newspeople, who do a superb job, considering that they operate under severe time constraints and have the intellectual depth of hamsters.  But TV news can only present the “bare bones” of a story; it takes a newspaper, with its capability to present vast amounts of information, to render the story truly boring.  ~Dave Barry

    The bigger the information media, the less courage and freedom they allow.  Bigness means weakness.  ~Eric Sevareid, “The Press and the People,” television program, 1959

    The American mass media have achieved what American political might could not:  World domination.  ~Akbar S. Ahmed

    All of us learn to write by the second grade, then most of us go on to other things.  ~Bobby Knight, on reporters

    The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything.  Except what is worth knowing.  Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.  ~Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism, 1891

    If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast.  ~William Tecumseh Sherman

  6. I still think you would have made a great old timey crusading journalist. As long as you wore a cool hat and a rumpled suit.

  7. you, a sports broadcaster and a couple of comedians are the only journalists who even have a grip non what’s fit to print. Having a good sense of humor however dark is necessary to cut through the surreal reality presented for us as ‘news’.  

  8. thread for this post from firedoglake this morning:

    Some in the press did their jobs.  Specifically, McClatchy.   Really, follow the link to the McClatchy blog: their reporters got it right.  Nobody paid attention.

    {sigh}  Seems like it’s been that way for almost eight long years.

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