the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

June 22, 2005

(Re)Publican Broadcasting Service


Growing up in Rockville, MD, I wasn’t exactly starved for cultural influences, but it’s fair to say I had to work a little harder. Thank goodness that WETA existed.

This of course was in the days before the Moonie Times could advertise on WETA, when Robin McNeill ruled the News Hour, before Fox News invented Fair and Balanced Propaganda, and certainly before Republican control of CPB.

The problem with Public Broadcasting is not an excessively liberal influence. The problem is that Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman, Ken Tomlinson, and chief executive Ken Ferree are total partisan hacks.

June 12, 2005

Anonymous Sources


Keith raised this in comments, but I thought it deserved its own thread.

Are anonymous sources a bad thing? Well, obviously in Jack Kelly’s case, yes. Same thing for the Plame leak.

But what about Watergate? In the On the Media interview that Keith references Mr. McPaper, Al Neuharth, has this to say:

BROOKE GLADSTONE: A lot of people say in the Watergate investigation, not to keep harping on that, came from the mid- and lower-levels of government where they could suffer grievously if they were proved to be a source.

AL NEUHARTH: I think if a lower level source in the government were to have an exclusive of some wrongdoing and then were fired for it, there’d probably be many others who would hire that person for his or her honesty and integrity, if he or she were identified.

That strikes me as hand waving. If you will, I’m curious what his source is for that belief. Note that he doesn’t say that he would be happy to hire someone who’d leaked information damaging to his or her employer.

Reading the account of how Mark Felt kept his identity a secret leads me to believe that he was afraid of more than just losing his job. He was afraid of being prosecuted for breaching national security.

The acid test for the fourth estate is whether they are effective at speaking truth to power. What distinguishes Watergate from the Plame leak is that the abuse of power is what’s being fascilitated.

What I’m saying is that USA Today has the luxury of not using anonymous sources because, well… because they’re McPaper. They put out a bland mix of news and infotainment, and avoid the kind of dissent that you’ll see from the Post or Times.

June 11, 2005

Media Silence on Downing Street Memo


The Downing Street memo may not be as big a deal as some on the left think it is (for one thing, it’s not a document produced by the Bush administration), but it’s still outrageous that the US media completely ignored the story for a month while it was a big story in the UK. On this weekend’s On the Media, USA Today reporter Mark Memmott tried to explain the delay (my transcript):

It’s ironic to some extent. I mean, last year the media was jumped on because of the Texas Air National Guard documents that CBS said it had. Bloggers were all over them about the authenticity of those. Now some in the blogosphere were all over the media for not writing about documents which almost all the media had not seen. Only the Sunday Times of London had actual copies that they said were from reliable sources. Others only had secondhand information, so that explains a lot of the reluctance, at least on the US media’s part, to really weigh in in this one, I think.

Please! It’s not ironic that the media was timid after the right’s successful use of “Rathergate” to damage CBS News and distract from the TANG issue. That was the intended result of the campaign by the administration, assisted by Powerline and other right-wing blogs.

The memo’s significance was also questionable because, according to Memmott, the word “fix” in the phrase “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” could mean in British English something less nefarious than its American meaning would suggest. He didn’t have an English accent, but he’s apparently more of an expert on the subject that the editors at the Times of London and other British media.

Memmott went on to explain that the story wasn’t that important anyway, because it was old news that Bush & Co. were determined to invade Iraq — that everyone knew it at the time. Perhaps that’s true, but in that case wasn’t it the media’s responsibility back in late 2002 and early 2003 to point out the inconsistency between what Bush was saying in speeches and what “everyone” knew?

June 10, 2005

Compare and Contrast


Fox News, June 1:

Several popular left-leaning blogs have taken up the cause to keep the story alive, encouraging readers to contact media outlets. A Web site, DowningStreetMemo.com, tells readers to contact the White House directly with complaints.

“This is a test of the left-wing blogosphere,” said Jim Pinkerton, syndicated columnist and regular contributor to FOX News Watch, who pointed out that The Sunday Times article came out just before the British election and apparently had little effect on voters’ decisions.

London Times Online, June 9 (via DL speaker Dan Froomkin):

“It is not that often, we have to admit, that an item posted one night on Times Online is still getting hundreds of thousands of hits six weeks later, especially when what bloggers like to call ‘the mainstream media’ have largely ignored its existence.

“But that is what happened to the now infamous secret Downing Street memo, posted on the site on May 1 alongside a story by Michael Smith of The Sunday Times. And if the document has taken on a life of its own it is largely because of the bloggers and their web-savvy allies on the US Left.”

The Hunting of the Dean


On day 2 of the Republicans are white Christians controversy, the allegedly progressive Washington Post has this story on Dean. A choice excerpt:

The press chorus then devolved into a cacophony of competing screams. (And Dean knows screams!) After several seconds, a booming voice cut through the noise. It belonged to Brian Wilson, a Fox News correspondent who was standing in the middle of the crowd. He asked Dean “if people are focused on the other things that you’ve said about hating Republicans, about Republicans being dishonest and then this latest comment about the Republican Party is full of white Christians. You say you hate Republicans — does that mean you also'’ hate white Christians?

It’s not exactly that this is a non-story. The story is that partisan hack pseudo-news outfits like Fox are able to keep stories like this alive. But they have to put serious torque on his remarks (e.g., the do you hate Christians bit) to keep it in the news cycle this long.

For the record, I’m no Deaniac. But you don’t have to be a true believer to appreciate that Dean brought the discussion of Iraq into the last election, when the other candidates were tentative at best. My impression is that Dems have erred on the side of caution too long, and that while I might have preferred that Dean had something like: “The president is being too strongly influenced by far right religious groups,” I also appreciate Dean’s candor.

Now move along. There’s real news going down.


DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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