Pressuring The Press

We in the blogosphere know our Press is broken, it is one of the reasons we are here. Due to the blogosphere, people have gained access to a far wider world of information than was previously fed to them by the very limited abilities of the Traditional News Media. Those limitations are offset by one huge advantage….access.

Access to the halls of power and the players in them by the Trad Med has been both a blessing and a curse. They DO get to ask the policymakers and politicians questions. That is good. But. To get and keep that access they were TOLD during the Bush Administration that too many pointed questions…to many real questions, too many uncomfortable questions….would result in losing that access.

As in so many things, the Bushies took a bad situation, a questionable Press Corp, and made it much worse. They knew that if there was a truly Free Press, thier many secrets and bad policies would be exposed. So not only did they muzzle the Press, they also corrupted it as they corrupted everything else in pursuit of their corrupt goals. Two Words, Judy Miller. Two more! The Plame Outting.

President Obama on the other hand genuinely seems to welcome good questions from the Press. A good question is a springboard for him to launch into explanations and descriptions of what he is doing and trying to do.

Which is what brings us here today. One of the pointed questions that Obama is either not being asked….or is stonewalling on, according to some folks…are his policies in continuing some of the egregious policies of the Global War on Terror.

Even as they abandon that phrase, even as they condemn SOME of those policies, even as they are improving on the PR from the Bush years…they are not being asked the tough questions on torture prosecutions, detention, and what appears to be a continuing dragnet approach to wiretapping all of us.

The access wielding Press, those few folks who get to ask direct questions of the President and his Press Secretary are NOT asking those questions. Indeed as a top of the rec-list diary at Dkos illustrates, Dear Chuck Todd, by brooklynbadboy some of them at least, are not asking much of relevance at all.

So just as we citizens are responsible for making sure our representatives in government are responsible, it has become apparent that we must serve the same function for our Press!

To that end we are starting a campaign to e-mail various influential reporters and journalists to urge them, and or pressure them, into asking the tough questions of the President. Especially as to his and his Justice Departments apparent stonewalling on torture prosecutions, detention, and what appears to be a continuing dragnet approach to wiretapping.

So let us, my bloggy friends….Pressure The Press!

I would like to use this essay to develop questions that we think should be asked of the President. Then we can choose a “target” reporter (Chuck Todd springs to mind!) to mail those questions to.

My initial question, since it is topical, would be this:

Mr. President, during the campaign you said…

“When I am president we won’t work in secret to avoid honoring our laws and Constitution, we will be straight with the American people and true to our values.”

Yet now your Justice Department IS invoking States Secret Privileges in several court cases relating to wiretapping and domestic spying, the effect of which IS to keep working in secret, and which has troubling Constitutional and Fourth Amendment Rights implications.

How do you reconcile your statement during the campaign with the actions of your Attorney General?

Here is Chucks e-mail address: [email protected]

Here is a suggested text for e-mailing him.

Dear Chuck,

You have been taking some heat for the questions you have been asking with your unique access to the President, may i suggest you ask THIS question?

Mr. President, during the campaign you said…

“When I am president we won’t work in secret to avoid honoring our laws and Constitution, we will be straight with the American people and true to our values.”

Yet now your Justice Department IS invoking States Secret Privileges in several court cases relating to wiretapping and domestic spying, the effect of which IS to keep working in secret, and which has troubling Constitutional and Fourth Amendment Rights implications.

How do you reconcile your statement during the campaign with the actions of your Attorney General?

What do you think….and ….What is your question?

Let’s get to work to develop this idea! Chip in in the comments as far as strategy and tactics and targets as well!


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  1. Photobucket

  2. President Obama, you have said for the record that your administration plans to “look forward”, and have also stated that the United States does not torture. In fact, the United States is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and other international treaties which outlaw and condemn torture.

    Given recent reports, most notably the ICRC’s that the United States, DID, in fact, torture, what, if anything, do you intend to do regarding investigations into who in the previous administration is responsible for creating a torture program at GITMO, Abu Ghraib, and other so called “black sites” around the world?

    • Edger on April 14, 2009 at 21:08

    when we were  discussing building email lists of journalists or politicians, I’ve since installed CiviCRM on my site so that we can use one of it’s functions, CiviMAIL, to send personalized email blasts and/or newsletters to as large a list as we can put together. I’m pretty sure from seeing his blast formats that this is the same system that Bob is using at

    From the CiviCRM about page:

    CiviCRM is the first open source and freely downloadable constituent relationship management solution. CiviCRM is web-based, open source, internationalized, and designed specifically to meet the needs of advocacy, non-profit and non-governmental groups.

    CiviCRM is a powerful contact, fundraising and eCRM system that allows you to record and manage information about your various constituents including volunteers, activists, donors, employees, clients, vendors, etc. Track and execute donations, transactions, conversations, events or any type of correspondence with each constituent and store it all in one, easily accessible and manageable source.

    CiviCRM is created by an open source community coordinated by CiviCRM LLC, and the 501c3 non-profit Social Source Foundation. The project also receives ongoing input and guidance from our Community Advisory Board.

    CiviCRM with all of it’s optional components like CiviMAIL is a very large and complex system, larger even than Drupal which I am using to run the site although I have it integrated into the Drupal system now, so it’s taking me a little while to learn how to use it, but one very useful function is that I can import Excel spreadsheet or text CSV(comma separated values) lists of email addresses and names into CiviMAIL and easily send formatted emails to the entire list.

    The next step is to import lists into the database and we can plug in emails to send to them. I know that LL was working on that but I don’t know how far she’s gotten with it yet.

    • TomP on April 14, 2009 at 21:37

    These issues need to be discussed.  If President Obama believes in the use of state secrets and Bagram, he should be able to articulate a defense of those policies. Thus, it is ultimately in his interest to answer such questions and our interest to ask them.  

  3. from Bush Six To Be Indicted

    Announcement of the prosecutor’s decision was delayed until after the Easter holiday in order not to interfere with a series of meetings between President Barack Obama and Spanish Prime Minister José Zapatero. However, contrary to a claim contained in an editorial on April 8 in the Wall Street Journal, the Obama State Department has been in steady contact with the Spanish government about the case. Shortly after the case was filed on March 17, chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza was invited to the U.S. embassy in Madrid to brief members of the embassy staff about the matter. A person in attendance at the meeting described the process as “correct and formal.” The Spanish prosecutors briefed the American diplomats on the status of the case, how it arose, the nature of the allegations raised against the former U.S. government officials. The Americans “were basically there just to collect information,” the source stated. The Spanish prosecutors advised the Americans that they would suspend their investigation if at any point the United States were to undertake an investigation of its own into these matters. They pressed to know whether any such investigation was pending. These inquiries met with no answer from the U.S. side.

  4. thousands of us “pressuring” the press with everything from letters, to faxes, to phone calls, to canceled subscriptions, with, unfortunately, little effect over the last 8 years or so.

    The heart of the matter, is that the majority of the major media is owned and managed by Republicans, neoCONS, and right-wing nutcases. They are using their corporations as propaganda conduits to funnel their sick and morally bankrupt ideology down to the public.

    Let me give you an example. Here in Southern Oregon, we have a wonderful daily published in Medford, called the Mail Tribune. The paper does a wonderful job covering state, local, and green issues, as well as the college, the outdoors, and the many wonderful events constantly going on in our area. But, it has one VERY major failing:..The Editorial Page.

    As an example, in this last Sunday’s edition we were treated to front page (editorial section) columns by the likes of neoCON Paul Greenberg, George Will, David Broder, and local anti-tax wingnut Doug LaFeve, with a slew of right-wing column quotes from the neoCON owned Washington Post thrown in for good measure. WTF?

    This otherwise wonderful newspaper has obviously made a conscious decision to disseminate neoCON propaganda to the citizens of this area. They obviously consider it their duty as faithful ideologues, …and rich Republicans, which the owners are.

    At this point, I am struggling mightily with the thought of never buying their paper again. I’ve written the editorial board letters, made calls, and even faxed them, always using the most respectful tone, all to no avail. So what choice am I left with? Take the good with the bad, and continue to subsidize the likes of Greenberg, Broder, Will, et al, ? And these people wonder why their newspapers are going out of business!

    Apparently, they don’t realize that the old right-wing D.C. establishment neoCONS they put on their editorial pages are no longer going to cut it (if they ever did). It’s a new day, with a new president, and congress, and a Democratic majority, and we newspaper readers and purchasers are sick of the garbage they are trying to feed us!

    BTW, I have made my decision…. I WILL NEVER again purchase another one of their papers. The sooner this propaganda outlet is put out of its misery, the better. There are plenty of other sources I can get my local/regional information and news, thank you very much. I will miss sitting by the fireplace with my Sunday paper and cup of French roast joe, but hey, can’t have everything…..

    Anyway, my point is, I’m not sure it will really do any good to write letters, make calls, etc. to these media outlets. I, you, and hundreds of thousands of others, have been there, done that, time, and time again. Time to put them out of their misery (and ours), and replace them with something that is responsive to their customers (that’s us), and that isn’t in the business of propaganda dissemination.  

    • RUKind on April 15, 2009 at 06:18

    Two Words, Judy Miller. Two more! The Plame Outting.

    Not to nitpick but under Cheney/Bush I learned that articles do count for something. 😉

    Nice post. And I really like Diane’s twitter suggestion. I’ve been avoiding it so far. Lately I can’t even keep up with my main sites. Too busy getting the garden together. Going to sell organics at my town’s farmer’s market.

    BTW, think the feds are OK with organic growers and farmer’s markets and co-ops? I’ve got an essay coming up on SWAT teams, organic farmers and confiscation of not only all equipment of every type but also the entire food supply of a family. Nothing is safe these days.

    State secrets cannot stand. Leon has to go. We need a recall campaign on him. I’m thinking a blow torch and some pliers. Totally enhanced surround-pain interrogation, no questions asked. Just for the lols.

  5. question at yesterday’s presser, with questionable results. If fact, as he reports here, Gibbs basically tried humor to disarm/difuse the question(er) into insignificance.

    From Mother Jones:

    At the Tuesday afternoon White House daily briefing, I asked Gibbs if the administration would cooperate with any requests from the Spaniards for information and documents. He had a predictable response: “I don’t want to get involved in hypotheticals.” He quickly pivoted to point out that Obama has moved to prohibit torture at Gitmo and elsewhere.

    I posed a follow-up: Have you spoken to the Spanish government about this case? He seized on my use of the word “you” and, with a broad smile, said, “I have not spoken with the Spanish.” Reporters in the room laughed. I obviously did not mean him personally; the “you” had referred to the Obama administration. Nor did I mean, I added, Bill Burton, the deputy press secretary, or any of the other press aides in the room. The point was whether the administration had been in contact with the Spanish government about the Bush Six investigation. “The Justice Department?” I asked. Gibbs, though, essentially brushed off the question: “I would send you to Justice. Like I said, I’ve not spoken” to the Spanish government.

    That, too, was to be expected. Often White House press secretaries say, take your query elsewhere. Yet moments later, when a reporter asked Gibbs if Obama had any reaction to the conservative groups organizing “tea parties” of protest on tax day, he replied, “I’ve never monitored them nor spoken with the Spanish about them.” People in the room laughed. And when the questioning in the room turned to the all-important subject of the Obama’s new Portuguese water dog, Gibbs continued the joke. Noting that the dog might be spotted on the White House lawn later in the day or that it might not, he added that “the dog has also not talked to the Spanish about impending torture cases.” More laughter. But I wondered, had the press secretary just made a joke about a torture investigation? Gibbs, like other press secretaries, uses humor to disarm, deflect, or dodge. But was this untoward?

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