Sunday, December 02, 2007

Everything Wrong in Political Reporting Today

From Raw Story, White House press secretary Dana Perino speaking to reporter Helen Thomas:

Helen, I find it really unfortunate that you use your front row position, bestowed upon you by your colleagues, to make such statements," Perino said. "This is a -- it is an honor and a privilege to be in the briefing room, and to suggest that we, at the United States, are killing innocent people is just absurd and very offensive."

Of course that suggestion is not absurd in the least, and is only offensive in that it is clearly correct and contradicts the truly absurd notion that the US is incapable of killing innocent people solely by virtue of being the US.

But more troubling is the notion that "it is an honor and a privilege to be in the briefing room" and that injecting reality into the discussion and behaving other than with total deference is an abuse of that privilege. Sadly many of our intrepid "journalists" subscribe to similar theories.

Katie Couric (emph. added):

The whole culture of wearing flags on our lapel and saying ‘we’ when referring to the United States and, even the ‘shock and awe’ of the initial stages, it was just too jubilant and just a little uncomfortable. And I remember feeling, when I was anchoring the ‘Today’ show, this inevitable march towards war and kind of feeling like, ‘Will anybody put the brakes on this?’ And is this really being properly challenged by the right people? And I think, at the time, anyone who questioned the administration was considered unpatriotic and it was a very difficult position to be in.

The "right people" -- such as the host of the 'Today' show and current host of CBS news for example?

Elisabeth Bumiller, a Washington reporter for The New York Times, was a Times White House correspondent from September 10, 2001, to 2006, on why the Iraq War press conferences was so passive:

I think we were very deferential because ... it's live, it's very intense, it's frightening to stand up there. Think about it, you're standing up on prime-time live TV asking the president of the United States a question when the country's about to go to war. There was a very serious, somber tone that evening, and no one wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time.

Stephen Colbert, speaking at the White House Correspondent Dinner, nailed this:

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know--fiction.

Our curageous White House reporters don't want to get into an argument with the president; instead they laugh at his jokes about the lack of WMDs in Iraq. Because challenging the president is not appropriate but laughing about false justifications for a war in which tens of thousands have died is. (Of course, I'm not suggestion that any of those tens of thousands were innocent -- why that's just absurd!)

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