Ruth: This Morning Edition Report will be a bit behind and there's a reason for that. I was bothered in particular by one segment and I wanted to look into it.
On Wednesday, there were two segments on Morning Edition that caught my attention.
Bush, Blair at Odds on African Aid, Global Warming
by Don Gonyea
Morning Edition, June 8, 2005 · President Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the White House Tuesday. They discussed aid for Africa and global warming, subjects on which they disagree. Bush pledged an additional $674 million for famine relief in Africa, but it's far less than what Blair was seeking.
In the segment, we heard the Bully Boy refer to Prime Minister Tony Blair as "Tony Blair" and apparently the colloquial nature was something Don Gonyea just had to emulate.
Now I know some people don't care for titles. C.I., for instance, will not usually use titles, medical, elected or anything. That's fine, that's consistent.
But while Gonyea was happy to note "President Bush" and "the president repeatedly," Prime Minister Tony Blair was always "Blair" as though Gonyea were reporting on an episode of Facts of Life.
"But Blair had come here to . . ."
"On Africa, Blair is . . ."
"Blair would like the U.S. to . . ."
"Blair offered praise . . ."
No "Prime Minister Blair." The Bully Boy was never "Bush."
If you're going to give one leader a title and you're a news agency, you need to refer to others by their title. You either use titles or you don't. It came off disrespectful and biased.
This was the segment where Morning Edition discussed the Downing St. Memo or at least referred to it. But first we had to hear of AIDS and climate change. Those are worthy topics, to be sure, but the Downing St. Memo is a major topic.
When Gonyea finally got around to "reporting on that" it was to note that it raised questions about Iraq, that it had appeared in the Sunday Times of London "some five weeks ago" and then to note the responses of "Blair" and then "the president."
Mr. Blair gave the "no the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form" response we've all heard of or read by now. Bully Boy lied (and the press never called him on it that I saw) by saying "the world speaks, he ignored the world." What did Hussein ignore? Inspectors were doing their job in Iraq when Bully Boy decided it was time to go to war. Did Hussein ignore popular opinion or the will of the people? No, that was the Bully Boy. Gonyea doesn't inform the listeners of that because apparently that requires more knowledge and more skill than Gonyea posesses.
Now let's deal with the second segment because this is where I was most bothered.
Britons React to Bush-Blair Summit
Morning Edition, June 8, 2005 · Michael White, political editor of Britain's Guardian newspaper, discusses British reaction to Prime Minister Tony Blair's meeting with President Bush.
The Cokie Roberts Gas Bag handling this segment was Steve and everyone probably knows how I feel regarding Gas Bag Steve.
Steve says, "Joining us now is Michael White the political editor of The Guardian." And what do they talk about? First climate change. I'll note that Steve did use "Mr. Blair." The G8 summitt was discussed.
Then the segment finally gets to what I'm expecting to be the main topic.
Steve: Michael White, how strong is Tony Blair's political position back home these days?
At last. We're about to find out about not only the Sunday Times of London's report on the Downing St. Memo but also there report on England and America increasing bombings of Iraq in 2002 to force Saddam Hussein into declaring war. Right?
Michael White: It's weaker than it was before he went into the deserts of Iraq, as your listeners will know. He was re-elected with a parlimentary majority. There's a parlimentary system so the president and the congress aren't seperate in the way they are in the U.S. .... [he's going over the number of seats held] On the other hand it's his third term and most governments would consider that pretty good and his critics in the Iraq war which is uh a great dividing issue in in Europe for the last three or four years ... Chancellor Schroeder and President Chirac of France, dare I say, are in much bigger trouble themselves so uh it's also part of the cycle but [Prime Minister Blair is] certainly weaker and not likely to last more than a year or so now, I suspect.
Why is he weaker? Michael White doesn't tell you.
In this country, we've rightly noted the silence from our media on the issue of the Downing St. Memo. But I spent all day today [Thursday] looking for an article on it in The Guardian and got my granddaughter Tracey to help. I couldn't find anything.
I was more than willing to blame Steve or Morning Edition or NPR for the lousy interview. But having looked and looked, I think The Guardian, and certainly Michael White, deserve some criticism as well.
That's not to let our media off the hook. But it bears noting that The Guardian hasn't been doing it's part to address the topic either. On April 27, 2005, before the release of the Downing St. Memo, Michael White did co-write an article on how a Tory leader had called Prime Minister Blair a "liar." But Tracey and I were unable to find anything Mr. White wrote about the Downing St. Memo or, for that matter, anyone else at The Guardian.
We tried searching by "Downing St. Memo" and found many things but didn't see any article on it. (If it was mentioned in, for instance, the article on blogging, it was mentioned in passing so briefly that my old eyes and Tracey's young ones couldn't detect it.) We pulled various phrases from the memo and searched by that but still found nothing.
Has The Guardian written about the Downing St. Memo? It's a British paper so it may not matter in some ways. But I know my friend Treva thinks of it as a brave paper for the left so I'm sure others do as well. If it's a brave paper for the left, why the silence?
It may be something as simple as not wanting to give a competitor any publicity. But I've heard, and I've said, "The British press is reporting on it." I need to correct my statements. The Sunday Times of London has reported on the issue. As for the British press, it appears The Guardian hasn't and I'm not familiar enough with the other papers to make a finding.
At the BBC, I can find a few paragraphs on it in a story on blogs. That's it.
Now I'm an old woman who's idea of a fancy electronic gadget during my teenage years was a pinball machine so maybe I'm not the best person in the world to be doing searches. (My granddaughter is very computer savy.) But I'm not finding coverage of it at The Guardian and I'm only find one article (an article on blogs) that covers it at the BBC.
I considered that perhaps they're referring to it by some other name (even though The Sunday Times of London called it the "Downing Street Memo"). So besides searching "Downing Street Memo" and "Downing St. Memo," I also searched various phrases such as "intelligence and facts were being fixed" and "Bush wanted to remove Saddam." That didn't return any item on the Times of London's revelations.
At The Independent, which this site highlights, I found the article C.I. highlighted. I also found two other articles, one on May 1st and one on May 2nd.
At The Guardian website, you can find a May 1st article (from The Observer) about accusations of Prime Minister Blair lying. This has to do with the Goldsmith memo and is a completely different memo.
Search "MATTHEW RYCROFT " at The Guardian (he is the one who wrote the Downing Street Memo) and you come back with one article, from 2003, on the BBC and the Hutton inquiry. ("MATTHEW RYCROFT" returns no search result at the BBC.)
I say all that not to excuse our domestic media. This story should be seriously covered and the issues it raises should be answered. But as someone who's said to friends, "The British press is covering it," I need to correct that. The British press as a whole is not covering it. The Times of London and The Independent have covered it. The Guardian and the BBC (if they're search engines are working) do not appear overly concerned with the Downing Street Memo.
Tracey's father reads the weekly Financial Times, so we figured we'd try that. It did turn up the results from The Independent but nothing more.
I found Michael White to be useless as a political analsyst. He came off bored while discussing Prime Minister Blair. His statements, superficial ones, weren't news to anyone who comes to this site. But even the domestic media has caught up in reporting on Prime Minister Blair's problems in England. There was nothing Mr. White stated that hadn't been reported on NPR already.
That's not to left Steve off the hook. He should have asked. The segment prior ended with quotes from Mr. Blair and the Bully Boy on this issue.
Perhaps I'm wrong and The Guardian has been covering this. If so, please notify me via e-mail. But as it stands, I'm thinking until Naomi Klein mentions it in a column, it's not an issue The Guardian's going to concern itself with.
[Ruth can be e-mailed care of this site: email@example.com. Also note, I've copied and pasted this and if something runs together or isn't italicized, that's my fault, not Ruth's and I'll fix it.]