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'Deferential, complicit enablers'

That’s former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s description of Big Journalism during the Bush administration, especially during the run-up to the Iraq war. With all too few exceptions, it is true — and indelibly stains a craft from which we expect so much more.

McClellan is no hero. He might have helped save lives and treasure had he told the truth when it counted. He, too, was an enabler of staggeringly dishonest tragedy.

All governments lie, to one degree or another. But the press is supposed to do its job, to ask the hard and sometimes dangerous questions that pull truth from dissembling public officials. You don’t expect shame from the politicians.

You should expect it from journalists who fail so miserably at their vital work. Sadly, frighteningly, you don’t get it from this crew.

5 Comments on “'Deferential, complicit enablers'”

  1. #1 Jon Garfunkel
    on May 29th, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Dan– thanks. I had supposed that news organizations might have reformed their ways (as Keith O. appears to have had a free hand these last few years), but as Greenwald points out in your second link (it probably could have used some elaboration) Charlie Gibson is under the delusion that he had asked the tough questions in 2003.

    Greenwald also linked to the exchange where Jessica Yellin told Anderson Cooper that the corp execs at MSNBC had asked reporters downplay the anti-Bush stories. Well, the MSNBC boss before Rick Kaplan took over was Erik Sorenson. Here’s where to send him a Facebook message. I’m just curious what his reaction to Yellin’s comments is.

  2. #2 Delia
    on May 29th, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Did you have something to do with this issue, Jon? (I’m confused as to why you started your comment by thanking Dan.) D.

  3. #3 Jon Garfunkel
    on May 29th, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Delia: No conspiracy here. “Thanks” as in “Thanks for bringing this to my attention– and for the Greenwald link.”

  4. #4 Delia
    on May 29th, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    oh, I didn’t think it was conspiracy (just thought I might have missed something) D.

  5. #5 Jon Garfunkel
    on Jun 1st, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Whoops. What I did not know at 6:38pm Thursday was that earlier in the day, Yellin had given a clarification on the CNN “blog”, withdrawing her words somewhat.

    She went from “they would edit my pieces” (perhaps referring to senior executives, but only because Anderson Cooper had asked her about that) to:

    “I did not mean to leave the impression that corporate executives were interfering in my daily work; my interaction was with senior producers. What was clear to me is that many people running the broadcasts wanted coverage that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the country at the time.”

    I’m not sure which is closer to the truth. If it is the latter, well, then, why do “senior producers” for cable news not face the sort of transparency-scrutiny that print reporters & editors do?