September 20, 2004

Baghdad Bob?

Hey, look! Someone with a responsible position in the media gets it!

September 19, 2004) -- On his Friday night chat show on HBO, comedian Bill Maher cracked a joke about President Bush remaining relentlessly upbeat about our war effort in Iraq despite a week of seemingly serious setbacks. Bush, according to Maher, sounds more like "Baghdad Bob" every day.


...A leading GOP senator, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, said, "the worst thing we can do is hold ourselves hostage to some grand illusion that we're winning. Right now, we are not winning. Things are getting worse."

And yet President Bush suggested all week that Iraq was firmly on the path to stability and democracy. On Friday he told a newspaper, "The Iraqis are defying the dire predictions of a lot of people by moving toward democracy....I'm pleased with the progress."

If the editor of Editor and Publisher understands that, can the rest of the media be far behind? I kid, I kid...we know better by now, right? The President could be walking up and down Pennsylvania Avenue naked and most of the media would be distracted by the new sentries on top of the White House and whether their uniforms had been approved for procurement.

If you really want to read some thoughts about journalism today, go here and read the text of a Bill Moyers speech given a week or so ago to the Society of Professional Journalists. It's a call to arms and a valedictory at the same time. Writing about his view of the Republican convention from his office, he says:

From where I sit I could see snipers on the roof. Helicopters overhead. Barricades at every street corner. Lines of police stretching down the avenues. Unmarked vans. Flatbed trucks. Looking out his own window, the writer Nick Turse (9/8/04 column) saw what I saw and more. Special Forces brandishing automatic rifles. Rolls of orange plastic netting. Dragnets. Preemptive arrests of peaceful protesters. Cages for detainees. And he caught sight of what he calls "the ultimate blending of corporatism and the police state – the Fuji blimp – now emblazoned with a second logo: NYPD." A spy-in-the sky, outfitted "with the latest in video-surveillance equipment, loaned free of charge to the police all week long." Nick Turse saw these things and sees in them, as do I, "The Rise of the Homeland Security State."

Will we be cowed by it? Will we investigate and expose its excesses? Will we ask hard questions of the people who run it? The answers are not clear. As deplorable as was the betrayal of their craft by Jason Blair, Stephen Glass and Jim Kelly, the greater offense was the seduction of mainstream media into helping the government dupe the public to support a war to disarm a dictator who was already disarmed [see the current issue of Foreign Affairs].

Read the rest and shed a tear for independent media. Then cross your fingers that it suddenly sees the light.

Posted by Linkmeister at September 20, 2004 12:01 AM