Monday, April 30, 2007

Where Is The Press?

Today’s news is loaded with stories of another D.C. madam poised to name names. Reporters excitedly say that hundred’s of Washington bigwigs may be unseated.

In other- not so prominent – news:
George Tenet says the administration failed to adequately weigh questions as to whether or not to invade Iraq, but also that his agency (CIA) provided and believed the information that Secretary of State Colin Powell used in his instrumental speech to the UN.

Douglas Feith denies manipulating intelligence Instead, Feith personally wrote to NPR to make the point that the official report Steven Colbert was referring to when he used the word manipulation actually said that his “. . . office promoted alternative intelligence reports that were inappropriate”. Gee thanks, Doug, that really clarifies things. Everything’s it OK now.

The Army reports that Iraqi sheikhs are now cooperating with them in hunting down Al Qaida members. I recently read Rory Stewart’s “The Prince of the Marshes”, a book about his gubernatorial responsibilities in Iraq that exposed, more than anything else, the difficulties faced by anyone who tries to bring cohesion to the interests and efforts of the Iraqi sheikhs. His biggest problem in trying to govern was that every sheikh has his own agenda based on the economic turf each maintains. So why are they now cooperating? Because Al Qaida is cutting into their oil smuggling business. The question is what does the U.S. do if they succeed in freeing the sheikhs of Al Qaida’s infringement on that trade? Do they continue to ignore the smuggling? (The answer, of course, is yes.)

Our local peace group, PNO, has a flap going with the local newspaper on the same basis. We had a visit last week from Cindy Sheehan, so PNO showed up to distribute leaflets in an attempt to draw new members. Instead of publishing any of those talking points, the press published a picture of one of PNO‘s leaders in tears with a caption naming her as having an emotional moment while talking to me. I had done my best to block the cameraman from even taking the picture, so his decision to publish it and the wording of the caption showed that the paper had no interest in relaying information, only in trying to capture some sort of “sensational” moment. (BTW, the tears were brought on by our discussion of the callousness of an editorial featuring the PNO leader and one of her most odious detractors in that morning’s paper.)

So where am I going with all this? To just one simple point - the generally useless focus of most of the “news” reportage to which we are subjected.

Who really cares about all the madams in our nation’s capital?! If you think you are going to have a chance to elect to national office more than one person in a hundred who is not a hedonistic borderline sociopath capable of calling someone in for paid sex, you are living in a rose colored bubble. But the press is focusing on that story as though it was meaningful.

It seems to me that any good reporter could easily delve into the questions Mr. Tenet raised in his diatribe against BushCo and his statement that the CIA believed in the Iraqi WMD. The International Atomic Energy Agency made it clear that the aluminum tubes Colin Powell referred to were not for bomb development. They also made it clear that the launching pad Powell said could only be used for launching illegally long range missiles was within the scope of treaty requirements. They also said, before Powell spoke or the President gave his fateful State of the Union address, that Saddam had no facilities capable of developing nuclear weapons. The Nigerian uranium story was also blown out of the water before Bush used it in his State of the Union address. The “mobile labs” he touted turned out to be nothing more that firefighting equipment. So, why did no popular press forcibly bring those issues to the attention of the American people then or at least go after them now?

Douglas Feith has now been censured for his manipulation (or whatever he wants to call it) of intelligence, but anyone who was watching closely knew at the time that the Office of Special Plans, under the direction of Cheney and Feith, was promoting sleight of hand intelligence every day in the run-up to Iraq. Where was the press then? Where are they on this story now?

Where is the press now, while the U.S. touts its warming relationship to the sheikhs? Out snapping pictures of gentle elderly women in tears?

What chance does the average American have of understanding central issues when the press on whom we rely for information about the world is busy ignoring anything meaningful while publishing stories about Anna Nicole Smith’s baby and the infamous blue dress?

Come back Edward R. Murrow. Come back.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. – Mohandas K. Gandhi

Yours in Peace - BR

No comments: