So, now even private heresy against the Church of Saint George the W. is a punishable offense within the corporate media. Lovely.
As you’ve no doubt already heard, John Green, the executive producer of the weekend edition of “Good Morning America” has been suspended without pay for one month and, perhaps worse, forced to make a groveling apology to the White House.
His unpardonable crime? In a private e-mail sent during the first presidential debate in 2004, he wrote to a colleague, “Are you watching this? Bush makes me sick. If he uses the ‘mixed messages’ line one more time, I’m going to puke.”
That’s it. One uncomplimentary comment expressed in private (later leaked) about Bush and he gets hammered.
I guess Ari Fleischer knew what he was talking about when he said Americans need to watch what they say.
(There was a second e-mail critical of Madeleine Albright, but anyone who believes that had anything to do with the action taken against Green probably also still thinks there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.)
Well, I have a question: If this is the journalistic standard — that no criticism, even in private, of any national leader or presidential candidate is to be tolerated among “objective” journalists, then where are all of those other journalistic heads on the end of a stake?
Where, for instance, are all of the reporters disciplined because they couldn’t hide their contempt for Al Gore in election 2000? The ones who couldn’t stop talking about how arrogant they thought he was, and how he exaggerated everything? And unlike Green’s e-mail comment about Bush, these journalistic attacks on Gore weren’t limited to private discussions among the journalists themselves (although there were a lot of those): There were also all of those very public attacks, often based upon untruths, or at best half-truths, offered up with relish, such as the endless false allegations that Gore had claimed to have personally invented the Internet.
Bunk from the start, but they kept repeating it anyway.
(An excellent discussion of media lies about Al Gore during the 2000 campaign can be found in Al Franken’s book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, at chapter 7).
So how many of these newspeople, who not only viciously attacked a presidential candidate (and sitting vice president), but, in some cases, deliberately stretched the truth in doing so, were suspended or otherwise punished as a result of this breach of the much vaunted duty of objectivity and political neutrality? I don’t know of any. How about you?
But I guess that’s not surprising. After all, on an even more serious issue, has any major journalist paid a price, any price at all, for carrying Bush’s water on Iraq? For helping to sell the American people on quite possibly the biggest foreign policy blunder in the nation’s history? For being dead wrong on almost every issue that mattered in the months leading up to the war?
Again, let me know if you can think of any, because I sure can’t. (And no, Judith Miller doesn’t count; she wasn’t encouraged to resign, at least principally, because of her WMD reporting.)
But, hey, at least they suspended John Green for that private e-mail criticizing Bush.
And, of course, we can also take solace in the knowledge that four CBS employees were fired, and Dan Rather was pushed into early retirement, as a result of an alleged mistake made regarding certain documents in presenting an essentially accurate picture of Bush’s failure to fulfill his service obligations with the Air National Guard.
So let’s not hear any whining about there being no accountability within the media. There’s accountability, all right. It’s just somewhat selectively enforced.
If you help start a disastrously ill-conceived war leading to thousands of deaths through sloppy and dishonest reporting, you just keep on truckin’ on. But if criticize Bush, prepare to take your swatting.
What explains this inconsistent treatment? One possibility, of course, is that it reflects the pro-Republican bias of the management of the multinational corporations that own the media outlets; one always tends to judge the mistakes of ones friends less harshly than those of someone whose work is helping the other side. Or perhaps this tendency to come down especially hard when it’s a conservative ox that’s being gored, merely reflects the media’s tiresome routine of bending over backwards to try to disprove the right wing’s fallacious claims of liberal bias. Or maybe it’s a little of both.
I don’t know. But I do know this: If there is any justice in this universe, the next time some boob uses the phrase “liberal media” in describing today’s major news media he’ll be struck dead by lighting. Then, when he gets to the Pearly Gates, Saint Peter will tell him, “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I can’t let you in, you’re going to hell.”
“But why?” the man will plead.
“We heard what you said about there being a liberal media,” Saint Peter will reply sternly. “And there’s simply no room in heaven for anyone that stupid.”
All hear the word of the Lord.