U.S. press is relevant only as a propaganda arm

Most thinking folks know there really is no independent mainstream press left in the U.S.

Molly Ivins is more generous, but even she's paid by the commercial media. While she thinks it could still profit from some soul-searching to see why it has completely failed in its role, her own outline of the extent of that failure is a clear indictment of its alliance with the establishment.

According to a poll conducted by The New York Times and CBS, 42 percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center, something that has never even been claimed by the Bush administration. According to a poll conducted by ABC, 55 percent believes Saddam Hussein gives direct support to al-Qaida, a claim that has been made by the administration but for which no evidence has ever been presented. President Bush has lately modified the claim to "al-Qaida-type" organizations. This is how well journalism has done its job in the months leading up to this war. A disgraceful performance.
These beliefs are not found in any numbers anywhere else in the world. Either Americans are uniquely stupid or we're getting the wrong information.

And then there is Matt Taibbi in the New York Press. Taibbi uses the story of Bush's recent staged showing in the East Room to show how the White House press corps "politely grabs its ankles" in Dubya's awesome presence.

The Bush press conference to me was like a mini-Alamo for American journalism, a final announcement that the press no longer performs anything akin to a real function. Particularly revolting was the spectacle of the cream of the national press corps submitting politely to the indignity of obviously pre-approved questions, with Bush not even bothering to conceal that the affair was scripted.

. . . .

Even Bush couldn’t ignore the absurdity of it all. In a remarkable exchange that somehow managed to avoid being commented upon in news accounts the next day, Bush chided CNN political correspondent John King when the latter overacted his part, too enthusiastically waving his hand when it apparently was, according to the script, his turn anyway.

KING: "Mr. President."

BUSH: "We’ll be there in a minute. King, John King. This is a scripted..."

A ripple of nervous laughter shot through the East Room.

. . . .

Reporters argue that they have no choice. They’ll say they can’t protest or boycott the staged format, because they risk being stripped of their seat in the press pool. For the same reason, they say they can’t write anything too negative. They can’t write, for instance, "President Bush, looking like a demented retard on the eve of war…" That leaves them with the sole option of "working within the system" and, as they like to say, "trying to take our shots when we can."

Like I said, the independent press really is as dead as a dodo.

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Published on March 13, 2003 1:18 AM.

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