Sunday, March 11, 2007

What Digby Said

As Atrios just said: This has been another edition of "What Digby Said". Digby has written a superb post about the disgraceful and dangerous relationship between BushCo and the complacent & complicit media. Go read it all here.

Digby begins with a quote from Colin McEnroe "who has written the piece that should have been written by a top flight national columnist except they are so in the tank, that I'm not sure they even understand the issue much less have the integrity to write something about it". The quote ends with:
I mention all this because, here and there, you read comments about the prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and how much he damaged the First Amendment by sweating a bunch of journalists. Please. It's more like he lanced some kind of infectious boil.
Digby then starts riffing on this theme...
The reason why so many of us first amendment absolutists have come down on the side of the prosecution in the Libby trial has less to do with our desire to see him "nail Cheney" (although it would have been beautiful if he had) and more to do with this sickening Republican political and media establishment which suck their lifeblood from each other and in the process pervert and distort our politics.

We watched the press behave like a bunch of lapdancers for the Republicans for well over a decade. They wrapped their legs around Republican power so strongly that it finally led us into a circumstance that is killing people in large numbers. They were angry at Bill Clinton for "trashing the place" and it wasn't his place. They took out their childish pique on Al Gore and stoked the fires that demanded Bush be seated in the white house no matter what the legitimate outcome of the election in 2000. After 9/11 they put on a modern martial pageant that would have made Joseph Stalin proud.

They can weep and moan all they want about the verdict and help the Republicans twist themselves into a pretzels trying to explain why lying about the reasons for a war is less serious than lying about a blow job. Fine. But we know that these mediawhores have been exposed. They can pretend that none of this was important and they can keep the GOP spin machine going with a few more tired whirls around that pole, but the people who are getting the accolades and the pulitzers and who will be remembered for their excellent reporting during this period will be the ones who have had the chutzpah to speak truth to power.

I'll never forget Dana Priest on Meet The Press last year, breaking all the rules by exposing the spin for the spin it was --- and making William Bennet so mad I thought the top of his head was going to explode

[...]

If the trial did nothing else it showed the sickeningly parasitic relationship between many in the press and the Republicans. The Libby apologists in the media and the political establishment are screaming bloody murder about the trial because there was no "underlying crime" so Scooter shouldn't have even been been tried for lying to the Grand Jury. Forgetting their unbelievable gall in making this argument after their non-stop shrieking about the "rule 'o law" in the Lewinsky matter when the alleged underlying crime of sexual harrassment had been thrown out of court on the merits, their crocodile tears for the first amendment are especially rich coming from the people who wanted to jail reporters in stories that revealed current illegal and extra-constitutional policies on the part of the administration. Dana Priest and others are actually doing the work they are supposed to do which is overseeing government and they are vilified by the same Republican establishment that has otherwise wrapped itself in the first amendment to defend Tim Russert and Judy Miller and the Bush administration.

This isn't brain surgery. A reporter's privilege should not be used to help powerful people in government lie to the public about what it's doing or punish its enemies for speaking out against it. It exists to protect people who are risking their livlihoods by speaking out against those same powerful people. This is not hard for rational people to understand and yet in Washington they are so confused by their relationships with the powerful that they seem to be speaking in tongues on this issue.

The political press is not a monolith. There are incredible reporters like Priest who have done extraordinary work under very difficult circumstances. We can't do without them. But the insider culture of Washington that McEnroe describes in his piece above is a decadent and insular little circle of celebrity and power that has affirmatively harmed this country. The Libby trial opened up that fetid boil and did this country a favor. I'm not surprised that they are squealing as loudly as they can --- or that the rightwing freakshow is behaving as if they were born yesterday. After all, they all know they are compromised. They just didn't think we did.

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