What has become of the print and TV media watchdogs who hounded President Nixon
from office because he lied about when he learned of a minor burglary of no consequence
What became of the watchdog media that bayed after President Reagan because
some low-level neoconservative officials sold arms to Iran and diverted the
money to anti-communist insurgents in Latin America?
President Clinton was impeached by the House, though not convicted by the Senate,
for lying about a sexcapade with a White House intern.
Now that we really need them, the watchdog media has hired out as public relations
and propaganda shills for the Bush administration and the neocon network.
The entire Bush administration – not merely the president – is
involved in the most extraordinary lies and fabrication of false intelligence
claims in order to lead America into an unwarranted and illegal invasion of
Iraq, an invasion that has cost the U.S. taxpayers $300 billion and resulted
in the deaths and maiming of tens of thousands of people.
The sordid affair has been revealed in leaked top secret Downing
Street memos, which were prepared for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and his
cabinet. Unlike the Nixon episode, there is no need to search for a "smoking
gun." Smoking guns have been printed all over the pages of the London
Times. Yet hardly a peep from the watchdog media.
The Aug. 1 issue of The American Conservative reports that Vice President
Cheney has instructed the U.S. Strategic Command to prepare a plan to spread
the war by attacking Iran with tactical nuclear weapons in the event of another
terrorist attack on the US. Appalled U.S. Air Force officers have leaked the
story, but you have not learned of it from the tamed media.
A federal prosecutor seems to be closing in on Karl Rove, President Bush's
right-hand man, and on Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney's right-hand man.
The two are suspected of leaking the identity of a covert CIA agent, a felony.
Both have had to hire lawyers. But there is no demand for accountability from
the U.S. media.
American civil liberties have been trounced by the "PATRIOT" Act.
Torture of detainees is now a routine practice of the U.S. government and defended
by the attorney general. Senators and military officers who try to place constraints
on the inhumane treatment of detainees are stonewalled by the White House.
The mainstream media has been co-opted as a propaganda organ for the Bush administration.
How did this come about?
It came about through media concentration. There are no longer independent
voices in the mainstream media. American news reporting is a corporate operation
run with a view to advertising profits and the accommodation of government in
order to protect holdings of valuable federal licenses. For reporters and editors,
knowing what to say and not to say is the main qualification for job security.
A person who wants to find out anything must go online and spend time learning
the sites that are trustworthy.
The Internet, though invaluable for spreading news, hasn't the impact on the
public of a story pounded over and over on TV news or newspaper front pages.
Exposure on the Internet doesn't have the same embarrassment factor as exposure
on TV news and the New York Times front page.
The public is still socialized into taking its cue from the old TV and print
media. This media is now heavily controlled, partly through job fears of editors
This raises the question of whether government officials who have broken the
law and betrayed our trust will be held accountable.
Consider the implications if the Bush administration escapes accountability:
The executive branch will have established itself as above the law.
The executive, armed with a compliant media, will have war-making power subject
only to successful PR spin. It means the final end of the people's right to
declare war via elected representatives in Congress.
The few remaining restraints on the executive's ability to detain people indefinitely
without charges will be removed. This power will silence the Internet.
Spiteful neighbors, employees, former spouses, whomever, will gain the power
to report any disliked person. The anti-terrorist apparatus needs victims to
demonstrate its effectiveness, and as warrants, hearings, and evidence are no
longer required, Americans will simply disappear like Soviet citizens in the
The "imperial judiciary" will disappear overnight. No checks and
balances will remain.
Gentle reader, you can continue with this theme in "How the Worst Get
on Top," a chapter in F.A. Hayek's classic, The
Road to Serfdom. You might as well learn what it is going to be like as
you are already halfway there.
The worst rise rapidly as the honest depart the corrupt system. Two U.S. military
prosecutors, Major Robert Preston and Captain John Carr, resigned after denouncing
rigged Guantanamo trials of detainees as "a severe threat to the reputation
of the military justice system and a fraud on the American people."
Altogether now, let's yell, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take
it any longer."