Saturday, June 24, 2006

NYT: Leads with official statements

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Eric Lichtblau offer "Cheney Assails Press on Report On Bank Data" in this morning's New York Times. So the administration is caught, once again, spying and their response is, "Don't talk about it!"

Now let's be clear, there's nothing that prevents them from getting the finanical records of anyone -- provided they get a court warrant. Once again, they don't want to do that. And when they've broken the law, again, they want to fall back on, "State secrets! You're hurting the program by even talking about it!"

A lazy press (including the Times which watered down their previous article on this topic that ran in Friday's paper) has allowed us to arrive at this point. But it's also true that a lazy people has as well. Yes, the press bores us with bad reporting (sometimes intentionally bad) and yes, it covers things (jumps on them) that really aren't "news" and shouldn't be treated as such.

But that doesn't excuse the public giving up it's right to know what their government does in an open society. So if, yet again, a significant (though not a majority) number of people look at Bully Boy's latest illegal spying operation and say, "Oh, that's for them to decide," we have no one to blame but ourselves.

This "state secrets" nonsense is a relatively new one and generations of earlier Americans would have probably been more likely to call it out (loudly). What's our excuse?

Maybe it's the fear factor nonsense?

As Elaine wrote yesterday:

Amy Goodman noted in another headline that the White House tried to talk the press from covering the story. Since they knew it was breaking, I have to wonder about Alberto Gonzales' dog & pony show today. From all I've been able to read and hear, a terrorist cell that was a threat to America didn't get busted up, they just nabbed The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight.

Yeah, that story's in the paper as well today. Also on the front page. Scott Shane and Andrea Zarate have the dishonors of contributing "F.B.I. Killed Plot In Talking Stage, A Top Aide Says."
A top aide says because corporate reporters can't do a damn thing on their own. They need the administration to make sense of what happened because if you think for yourselves, apparently, then the terrorists have won.

Yesterday, on The KPFA Evening News, they addressed this incident. They noted their was a thin line between "thought crime" and actual crime. (And "they" because I had a party last night and was half-listening as I rushed around making sure everything was ready so I'm not remembering the name of the legal commentator.)

This group wasn't a grave threat to America. A sting operation netted a tiny group of nothings and we're all supposed to feel safer that a group that couldn't do anything is now off the streets.
We might be better off wondering about the legalities of the sting operation and whether or not it's worth our "freedoms" (Bully Boy necessitates that they be put in quotes these days) for the FBI to even go after this group from Posers Day Camp.

In fact, were I to steal a page from The Book of Cheney, I could easily scream: "This investigation hurts our so-called war on terror!" Why?

The tiny, toothless fish that were swept up in the net outed the fact that the FBI is pursuing leads on terrorists! We've just told the terrorists that the FBI will look into leads! They now know! They are watching our corporate press closley to find out what we are up to and how we will "fight" them! Now they know that we are willing to use the FBI! By addressing the press yesterday, Alberto Gonzales exposed 'state secrets' and the terrorists know them!

Do I believe that? Not anymore than Dick Cheney believes that the press covering the administration's illegal activites hurts America. It does hurt the administration. And it should. When you refuse to follow the laws, you should be hurt by that. When you take an oath to uphold the Constitution but decide instead to trash it, you should be hurt by press disclosures.

There's not a legal genius or great thinker in the rotten bunch, but they apparently think they're overrun with both and that, therefore, they can subvert the Constitution and our system because they just know that much better than anyone else. Oh sure, the Constitution says the people are protected from this or that, but what does that matter when all decisions are made by Bully Boy's gut?

Whether you're happy with the American system (government, legal, et al) or not, you probably look at all these revelations that have come out and wonder about a corporate press that's existed to uphold the system (in all its good and all its bad) which has now spent basically six years taking a pass on defending the system.

Dick Cheney has an energy commission and they meet in secret. That was before 9-11. The press can't hide behind 9-11 as their reason for being so inept and cowardly with regards to that.
They've allowed this administration to conduct the people's business in secret for some time now. (Partly because they don't have a great deal of respect for the people or the people's right to know.) As they've laid down on the job (repeatedly), the administration has pressed each time to do something else in secret.

We know Bully Boy's a dry drunk (provided he's still off the booze) and that's really a shame because if he were someone who'd worked a recovery he'd know one core statement: Secrets keeps us sick.

Whatever your opinions of the recovery movement (in any of its forms), a government for and by the people can't operate in secret. And a lazy press serves no one. It doesn't serve the people (which has never been the goal of the New York Times -- serving the people) and it doesn't even act as a society page for a small group of people (which has always been how the paper of no record has seen itself) because even the society pages would tell you if a party went bust. They might not tell you that the reason is your host was confronted by his mistress in front of a group of people and it put a damper on the whole evening, but they wouldn't tell you the party was a hit.

The Times regularly does that now. It tells you everything's fine and even front pages Dick Cheney's idiotic response that doesn't even merit inside the paper coverage. It's not a lapdog press. The Times has always gone out of their way to chronicle "officials." They've rewritten the style manual when certain people might not be well served by the manual (certain people being officials). They've covered up far more than they've ever covered. But the balance (to use their beloved term) is so out of whack today that it's actually inflating their work (or hobby) at this point to call them lapdogs. Evn a lapdog will snap and snarl when under attack. The paper is under attack and they can fool themselves that because they hosted a party for this official or that (an embarrassing party most recently that has many of those attending shaking their heads -- possibly the only sign of hope) means they're "in." They're not "in."

They are under attack (not from press critics -- online or off). That the paper that's upheld the system (in its glory and in its shame -- I was speaking of the system but you can apply that to the paper as well) year after year is now willing to stay silent (and edit out huge portions of Friday's story before it made it into print) is disgusting.

They should be outraged. The people should be outraged. Instead, we'll probably rub our hands in glee that some incompentents in Florida were "captured." The group was far more likely, provided materials were handed to them and put together for them, in blowing themselves up in a non "sucide bomber" related accident. Their "capture" means about as much to our safety as the locals nabbing that homeless panhandler on any downtown street. But here's this useless story about the capture of the Terrorsim Day Camp for Dummies and the adminstration uses it to hide behind yet another revelation of yet another illegal attack on the people and the system.

The headline for this story (and Shane and Zarate aren't responsible for the headline) should have been "No Immediate Threat, A Top Aide Says." The headline for Stolberg and Lichtblau's piece should have been, "Cheney Avoids Answering Questions on Bank Data."

I was in a great mood before I grabbed the paper. One of those mornings that seemed beyond the damage the paper of no record could do. To avoid depressing anyone to the point that I am on a Saturday morning, we'll note Mike's take on the administration's latest illegal spying which will provide some much needed laughter:

Okay, I gotta tell you, I'm now afraid to change my boxers. With all the other spying the Bully Boy's doing, I'm afraid he's also set up web cams in all our homes to make a little porn money on the side. Like half-way around the world, some woman (or some man) is going to be saying, "Oh, si! Su penga is muy grande!" I hear that so much, in so many languages . . . :D
Seriously, is there anything he's not spying on? I lost my lab notes Tuesday -- if I write up a FOIA request, can the FBI tell me where they are? I mean, come on, is Bully Boy watching me shower? Is there anything he doesn't spy on? He's like a psycho Santa Clause.

We'll note Sabrina Tavernise's "Fear Invades Once Comfortable Baghdad Enclave" which is worth reading for a number of reasons. We'll excerpt this:

Neighborhood after neighborhood in western Baghdad has fallen to insurgents, with some areas bordering on anarachy. Bodies lie on the streets for hours. Trash is no longer collected. Children are home-schooled.
The paralysis that shut down life in western Baghdad is creeping ever closer to the heart of the city and Iraqis in still-livable areas are frantic for the government to halt its advance, something it pledged to do when it started its new security plan for Baghdad last week.

Of course, it's very true that in Ramadi, not covered by the Times, the children are "home-schooled" since the schools are shut down as the seige on Ramadi continues. But we'll note what Tavernise has written because it's in print. It's not said in a bar while she's shooting the __ with other reporters, or tossed out on a speaking tour, or delivered on the NewsHour. It's rare that any sort of reality actually makes it into the paper. So I'll give her (and the paper) for that this morning.

Kat will cover who's up on Laura Flanders later today. (I'll note that Eve Ensler is one of this weekend's guests so be sure to listen.). Ruth will post during RadioNation with Laura Flanders. And check out Cedric's "White House thumbs its nose at the Supreme Court (Bully Boy Press & Cedric's Big Mix)" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! THE WHITE HOUSE THUMBS ITS NOSE AT THE SUPREME COURT!" (joint post).

The e-mail address for this site is