The times they are a-changin’
Last night while watching the amazing premiere of the new Bill Moyers Journal (and if you missed it, find out when it will be run again here), it struck me that if the fawning coverage of the Bush Administration in its rah-rah rush to war and the cozy relationship the mainstream press has had with the Administration didn’t put the final nail in the coffin of the notion of a press unfettered by government control, the fact that the politically-motivated firing of U.S. prosecutors as a way of disenfranchising Americans was ignored by said press until a blogger noticed that something was just off about these firings should.
Last night Moyers’ show featured the future of American news: Jon Stewart — a stand-up comic who now hosts a fake news show whose viewers are more informed than those who get their news from mainstream media, and Josh Marshall, a blogger without whom Karl Rove would be well on his way to stealing another elections for Republicans.
Stewart continues to display the required modesty about what he’s doing, but when a so-called news network like Fox is running stories from parody sites as real news becauee it fits in with their agenda, it’s no accident that viewers of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, better informed than those who get their information from Fox News.
If you saw Watching the War on Wednesday night (video here), you witnessed the appalliing spectacle of Tim Russert, one of the most influential so-called journalists in Washington, dance around his role in allowing the Administration to push its lies and fabrications out over the airwaves:
BILL MOYERS: Was it just a coincidence in your mind that Cheney came on your show and others went on the other Sunday shows, the very morning that that story appeared?
TIM RUSSERT: I don’t know. The NEW YORK TIMES is a better judge of that than I am.
BILL MOYERS: No one tipped you that it was going to happen?
TIM RUSSERT: No, no. I mean-
BILL MOYERS: The– the Cheney– office didn’t make any– didn’t leak to you that there’s gonna be a big story?
TIM RUSSERT: No. No. I mean, I don’t– I don’t have the– this is, you know, on MEET THE PRESS, people come on and there are no ground rules. We can ask any question we want. I did not know about the aluminum-tube story until I read it in the NEW YORK TIMES.
BILL MOYERS: Critics point to September eight, 2002 and to your show in particular, as the classic case of how the press and the government became inseparable.
Someone in the administration plants a dramatic story in the NEW YORK TIMES And then the Vice President comes on your show and points to the NEW YORK TIMES. It’s a circular, self-confirming leak.
TIM RUSSERT: I don’t know how Judith Miller and Michael Gordon reported that story, who their sources were. It was a front-page story of the NEW YORK TIMES. When Secretary Rice and Vice President Cheney and others came up that Sunday morning on all the Sunday shows, they did exactly that.
TIM RUSSERT: What my concern was, is that there were concerns expressed by other government officials. And to this day, I wish my phone had rung, or I had access to them.
If you didn’t see it, watch it here.
But with the conventional media reduced to being Whores for Bush and then sitting around congratulating themselves on how tastefully they covered the Virginia Tech massacre (video and coverage by — who else? — Jon Stewart at C&L, here), where else are people supposed to find out what’s real?
Journalists who actually do their job are routinesly punished by their corporate masters. Greg Palast doesn’t work for a U.S. outlet, now, does he? And remember this woman?
You don’t see her around much anymore, now, do you, not like you see Paula Zahn and the parade of lightweight Blondes for Bush. It’s easy to forget what really happened and chalk Ashleigh Banfield up to being the Second Coming of Arthur Kent — except that as Digby reports, Banfield was the Real Deal who was fired from MSNBC for the unforgivable crime of telling the truth.
When the reward for actual reporting the news is termination, when David Broder calls Harry Reid “an embarrassment” for saying the Iraq War is lost at the same time as 57% of Americans now favor either immediate withdrawal or a timeline for withdrawal, when the mainstream media are STILL, Keith Olbermann notwithstanding, shilling for Republicans in general and the Bush Administration in particular, where else would people be going to find the truth but a stand-up comic on a fake news show and a blogger who went after William Jefferson with as much fervor as he goes after Republicans?
UPDATE: Hey, Greenwald! I was here first! Régardez la timestamp.