Today’s lead story: Four CBS executives were fired over the forged documents related to Bush’s National Guard service that made up the basis of a “60 Minutes” report. Dan Rather stepped down from his anchor post last year, many feeling he was nudged out because of his involvement in the document fiasco. Heads rolled, as they should, because of poor judgment on the part of CBS news reporters in a rush to scoop other stations.
But it’s funny. I don’t remember anyone at CBS or any other station losing their job for reporting the lies of the Swift Boat Veterans during the presidential campaign. I don’t recall anyone being fired for neglecting to report on the myriad election day mishaps, incidents of intimidation and obfuscation, and malfunctioning voting machines…a true national scandal. And, other than a few red faces, I am not aware of any reporters, editors or broadcasters being let go for their uncritical acceptance of the Bush administration’s lies leading up to the Iraq war. Even the worst offender, Judith Miller of the New York Times, whose erroneous stories of WMDs were fed to her by the discredited Iraqi dissident Chalabi, was not fired, even after the New York Time’s apologized for her work.
The axe fell at CBS over the National Guard documents for one reason—CBS is trying to make nice with the Bush administration. No one was fired over the other missed stories because it is not in the media’s interest to do so. They would have to make nice to the American people. As long as ratings are good, what would be the gain in that?
It is not in the media’s interest to tell the American people that there are still unexplained gaps in Bush’s National Guard records, forged memos or not. No, it is almost never in the media’s interest to anger the administration, which means it is often not in their interest to report the truth.
The greatest challenge progressives and liberals face over the next few years is figuring how to bring the truth to the people in places like Paducah, Kentucky and Laramie, Wyoming and Selma, Alabama. Their hometown newspapers are more than likely conservative. The churches that they attend every Sunday are conservatively oriented. And, the television or radio news they watch and listen to is either the “How high should we jump?” networks or the rabid Right cable stations.
How do we break into the Red State enclave with the truth? We did learn a valuable lesson from the Right, which has spent the last three decades building a communications infrastructure, or “echo chamber,” with Think Tanks, cable TV programming and radio talk shows. But we don’t have three decades to catch up, and with the damage being done by the Busheviks growing daily, we need a media plan, and we need it quick