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06-12-08 Nation-Silence of the (MSM) Lambs by Eric Alterman

06-12-08 Nation-Silence of the (MSM) Lambs by Eric Alterman

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Published by: Mark Welkie on Mar 13, 2011
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53437318.docPage 1 of 2
June 12, 2008
Silence of the (MSM) Lambs
Eric Alterman
The past few weeks have been thrilling politically. Barack Obama's victory in theDemocratic primary offers our country not merely the opportunity to turn the page onAmerica's most destructive presidency but also to open up as exciting and promisinga new chapter in our history as any since the birth of the New Deal. Alas, one of themyriad roadblocks standing in the way of this hopeful new direction are the membersof our mainstream media.For instance, when Scott McClellan--following Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, John DiIulioand Matthew Dowd--reconfirmed virtually all the significant charges leveled by Bushcritics against this corrupt, extreme and incompetent Administration, the reactions of the MSM were difficult to distinguish from those of the Bushites. Sadly typical wasthat of Mike Allen, chief political writer of the allegedly nonpartisan
, whocomplained that McClellan had adopted "the vocabulary, rhetoric of the left winghaters," demonstrating once again that anyone who tells the truth about thisAdministration--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 actuallypraising the MSM for their mindless (and spineless) credulity. Gibson, speaking withKatie 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 askthe questions."And so the man who holds the most prestigious and influential position at ABC Newsdoes not think it the job of a "journalist" to engage in a "debate" over the facts withan Administration bent on misleading the public into war. Apparently the jobdescription requires nothing more than to "ask questions," accept the answers andsalute smartly.To make matters worse, Gibson does not appear much interested in getting his factsstraight, either. Recall his repeated badgering of the candidates during the debatesof the party of the working class to embrace tax policies designed to benefit rich folklike multimillion-dollar network anchors and their friends. He cited statisticsapparently snatched wholesale from the ether and easily disproved by ten minutes of Googling (see my May 19 "Liberal Media" column, titled "Mickey Mouse Media"). Thistime around, Gibson picked the coverage of Colin Powell's now-infamous February2003 United Nations speech as an example of the allegedly tough-minded coveragehe believed common.As it happens, Charles Hanley, an Associated Press reporter, subjected Powell'sclaims to detailed scrutiny in light of what was known at the time as well as laterrevelations and found that many of Powell's controversial assertions could have beeneasily challenged by reporters who refused to swallow the propaganda Gibson andhis colleagues were so disinclined to "debate."

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