The past few weeks have been thrilling politically. Barack Obama’s victory in the Democratic primary offers our country not merely the opportunity to turn the page on America’s most destructive presidency but also to open up as exciting and promising a new chapter in our history as any since the birth of the New Deal. Alas, one of the myriad roadblocks standing in the way of this hopeful new direction are the members of our mainstream media.
For instance, when Scott McClellan–following Paul O’Neill, Richard Clarke, John DiIulio and Matthew Dowd–reconfirmed virtually all the significant charges leveled by Bush critics against this corrupt, extreme and incompetent Administration, the reactions of the MSM were difficult to distinguish from those of the Bushites. Sadly typical was that of Mike Allen, chief political writer of the allegedly nonpartisan Politico, who complained that McClellan had adopted “the vocabulary, rhetoric of the left wing haters,” demonstrating once again that anyone who tells the truth about this Administration–even someone with impeccable insider credentials–will be called a “hater” for doing so.
No less disturbing was the sight of ABC News nightly anchor Charles Gibson actually praising the MSM for their mindless (and spineless) credulity. Gibson, speaking with Katie Couric and Brian Williams on the occasion of the release of McClellan’s book, insisted, “I think the questions were asked,” before adding, “It was just a drumbeat of support from the Administration. It is not our job to debate them. It is our job to ask the questions.”
And so the man who holds the most prestigious and influential position at ABC News does not think it the job of a “journalist” to engage in a “debate” over the facts with an Administration bent on misleading the public into war. Apparently the job description requires nothing more than to “ask questions,” accept the answers and salute smartly.
To make matters worse, Gibson does not appear much interested in getting his facts straight, either. Recall his repeated badgering of the candidates during the debates of the party of the working class to embrace tax policies designed to benefit rich folk like multimillion-dollar network anchors and their friends. He cited statistics apparently snatched wholesale from the ether and easily disproved by ten minutes of Googling (see my May 19 “Liberal Media” column, titled “Mickey Mouse Media”). This time around, Gibson picked the coverage of Colin Powell’s now-infamous February 2003 United Nations speech as an example of the allegedly tough-minded coverage he believed common.
As it happens, Charles Hanley, an Associated Press reporter, subjected Powell’s claims to detailed scrutiny in light of what was known at the time as well as later revelations and found that many of Powell’s controversial assertions could have been easily challenged by reporters who refused to swallow the propaganda Gibson and his colleagues were so disinclined to “debate.”