Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007: The Year of Living Useless (Year in Review)

"For his good and the good of The Morning Star, I intend to remove him from the land of the living!" hollers Walter Connolly's Oliver Stone in the 1937 screwball comedy Nothing Sacred about star reporter Wally Cook (Fredric March) being moved over to the obituaries after his big scoop explodes in his and the paper's face. Shortly after, Cook convinces Stone there's a story in Hazel Flagg (played by Carole Lombard) and vows, "If I don't come back with the biggest story you've ever seen, you can put me back in short pants and make me marble editor!" Could we get an order of short pants for independent media?

If 2006 was The Year of Living Dumbly, 2007 was The Year of Living Useless. And was anyone more useless than independent media?

Take FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, because we have to start somewhere. Sending out an action alert about an article the New York Times printed when, in fact, the offending paragraph only made it into online versions was a simple mistake. It's not one that Cedric and Wally made (see "New York Times lies again!" and "THIS JUST IN! NEW YORK TIMES LIES ABOUT PEACE MOVEMENT!") but then, they were on it in real time and not days later. It provided laughter at the paper as FAIR supporters stormed the e-mail accounts with angry missives about that offending article the paper 'printed' but it didn't do any real damage and could be chalked up to a simple mistake.

No such leeway can be given when FAIR rushed in to prop up a bad article by lying about it, "The Nation's investigation into the U.S. occupation's impact on Iraqi civilians (7/30/07) . . . " They began breathlessly having forgotten the basics: A people's story is never told by outsiders. Xenophobia on parade in their rush to promote the magazine's worst article (a hard call to make granted).

The publicity hack for the magazine felt the need to mail the public account of this site on July 2nd about the article but problems with the article were already known. A large number of veterans were already offended that they'd been pushed aside and those who had spoken with the magazine's two reporters had questions about the realities that would make it into print. For those involved in the peace movement in any manner, this was the big talk as spring drew to a close and summer began. Either FAIR didn't give a damn or they're not part of the peace movement.

If it's the latter (that would explain their refusal to cover it), they didn't need that background to be appalled by the article when it finally was published.

It didn't take a determined sleuth to notice that the term "war resisters" continues to be banned at the alleged leading magazine of the allegedly left. Camilo Mejia couldn't be called a "war resister" but he could be called a "deserter" demonstrating that, if this is the left's idea of understanding, there are serious comprehension issues. Mejia, a non-US citizen, should have been discharged while he was in Iraq since his service contract was up and he couldn't legally be 'stop lossed'. A Florida Senator, a centrist Democrat, grasped what the allegedly left magazine couldn't. Mejia self-checked out only when the military refused to honor their own policy (after acknowledging it) and he also applied for CO status and was denied. It's rather cute that none of that gets noted when he's reduced to "deserter" (a term that is inaccurate and bothers him but no one at The Nation gave a damn). At the very least, a left magazine could have used the term "war resister," but The Nation, in 2007, demonstrated they were far from left and far from journalism.

The article opened with an overly long introduction ("A Note on Methodology") and maybe all the excess wordage caused FAIR and others to miss it but the article bragged of "dozens" of photos of abuse. That wasn't an empty boast. They were provided with many photographs. They made the 'journalistic' choice not to run them.

Shielding the public from realities is the sort of action that regularly (and rightly) leads to charges of censorship and calling out by left organizations. But FAIR, despite the organization's name, wasn't interested in applying journalistic principles fairly, just in schilling for a really bad article.

The article provided three groups of veterans: Iraq Veterans Against the War (wrongly identified as left, IVAW is against the war and its membership is diverse), a centrist group whose goal is to elect veterans (they'd argue they have other goals but their actions in 2007 cast that in doubt) and a right-wing, publicity front group identified as such by PR Watch. Somehow none of that was a concern to the journalistic critics at FAIR. Had Meet the Press provided the same 'balance,' the same 'mix,' they'd be up in arms.

A sign of how bad the article was came after it was published when those veterans against the war already voicing their concerns were joined by centrists and the front group in decrying the lousy article.

It tried to be everything and in the end was nothing other than insulting. Apparently Nation readers are not known to be against the illegal war (who knew?) and are very, very young children who must be sheltered from the truth, hence the need for a left or 'left' magazine to 'balance' with not only a center group but a right-wing front group and the need not to publish photographic evidence of abuse. (In December, 60 Minutes would do something similar. Possibly the watchdog FAIR ignored that because they realized how hypocritical they'd look for calling it out having remained silent on The Nation's own censorship?)

FAIR was far from alone in schilling for this bad article co-written by the man who rushed the false link between Iraq and 9-11 onto the front pages of the New York Times in October 2001; however, that's another thing we're not supposed to notice. The only ones who stood apart from the journalistic embarrassment were Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) who wisely saw what was missing in the article -- war resistance -- and rounded out their discussion of the story by providing clips of war resisters the program had interviewed in the past.* Maybe they had heard the long criticism leading up to the publication or maybe the two journalists just read the article and saw what was obviously missing from it? Regardless what a media watchdog couldn't notice, Goodman and Gonzalez did. As the article continued to be schilled (and turned into mill for op-eds) months after it was published, it became obvious that journalistic standards were in short supply on the left.

The world is beautiful today
More beautiful by far
Than any other day
I only know
That I'm in love with such green earth . . .

Nothing's Sacred was turned into a Broadway musical entitled Hazel Flagg and, if lacking any other realities she should have grown up with, Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel appears familiar with the score and damn determined to regularly sing it (the score Time magazine called in real time overly loud -- a bit like those annoying "Sweet Victories" posts). But we'll get back to that.

2007 was the year independent media should have been sent to their rooms -- with no TV or computer privileges.

For those who missed it, 2007 was not an election year, though you'd never know it to sample independent media. Much has been made of the public exhaustion with what passes for coverage of candidates (you always know it's a trend -- real or media created -- when the Times rushes to weigh in), but never forget that independent media was first out of the gate in the horse race coverage.

The non-stop horse race coverage had to push aside a lot of topics and one was the Iraq War.
August 20th, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted the Project for Excellence in Journalism "study shows corporate news coverage of the Iraq war has dropped sharply in the last four months. According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the Iraq war accounted for just fifteen percent of news coverage, down from twenty-two percent earlier this year. Network evening news coverage of the war went from forty-percent to nineteen percent. The Democratic and Republican presidential campaign emerged as the most-covered issue over the same period." "Campaign For President Takes Center Stage In Coverage" only tracked mainstream media. If independent media were tracked, it would be even worse. But there appears to be some pact that no one in independent media will ever call out independent media -- thereby explaining how it continues to get worse each year.

A serious issue in independent media we'll get too shortly but tracking it resulted in the July 2nd e-mail from The Nation. Third Estate Sunday Review reader Calvin then asked that The Nation's Iraq coverage be covered for the first six months of 2007. The results? 13 pieces were published on Iraq, 14 pieces on the 2008 elections. A real and ongoing war takes a backseat to a future election. That's the print magazine, not their online 'writing' which is even less concerned with Iraq. In fact, 2007 was the year that "Iraq War" would disappear as a folder on their website's home page. Did the illegal war end? No, just their interest in it.

From The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Horse racing or Iraq? Which wins out at The Nation:"

In The Elector, Ava came up with the idea for the tag by the illustration (and notes it was reworked by others "credit where it's due"), "Our special issue that continues our non-stop 2006 election coverage that we'll only drop in a few weeks when we gear up for the 2008 elections." If you're missing the truth in that joke, you need only grab the November 20, 2006 issue of The Nation, flip to page five where "The 'Off-Year Primary'" begins (it ends on page six). If you're blanking, in 2006 the general election took place across the country on November 7th. And lest you think The Nation was sleeping on the horse race, the article was available online November 3rd. Yes, before the 2006 election had taken place it was already time to announce "If there's a winner in the 2006 version of that contest, it's Senator Barack Obama" (!), to offer up Hillary Clinton's negatives (Lakshme, take note, this piece was written by a male -- we look forward to your piece on why left and 'left' men, who may or may not have supported Hillary as First Lady, have trouble with her as a presidential candidate all this time later), tell you George Allen was out of the 2008 presidential race (when was he in?) and include some "good news for McCain". All before the 2006 election had taken place, this piece on the 2008 election was written and run online.

The author of the piece was John Nichols, first out of the gate, and they were off!

The Progressive, to turn to another independent media outlet, had their own problems: Ruth Conniff. Damn proud of her lukewarm scribbles and awfully lucky Katha Pollitt left her off the list of "I like Mike" supporters, Conniff appears to exist these days to remind people how Judith Miller could have ever been associated with the magazine. Lacking any interest in a topic that wouldn't make the Sunday chat & chews and lacking the depth to 'explore' any further than Tim Russert would, Conniff repeatedly embarrassed herself in 2007 with her 'election' coverage. John Nichols should have found another topic but his posts and articles were heart felt, Conniff showed all the 'talent' of a draq queen impersonating Donna Summer or maybe she was attempting to impersonate Gail Collins?

Sometimes a subject could cause her to dig a little deeper but even then it was about as deep as a coat of nail polish. While John Nichols seemed sincerely concerned about what citizens were getting from the candidates, Conniff thought a bemused attitude was the way to go. Erma Bombeck never covered politics and that was a good thing. A functioning independent media would have tossed Conniff and all the others turning in their second-rate, imitation MSM writing.

Six days before Pollitt called out the male "I Like Huckabee" supporters (plus Gail Collins), Rebecca had called out Conniff's crap. Reality check for anyone at an alleged left magazine, no one needs your gushing. Conniff appears to think she's still on the cable and chat & chew guest list. She's not. She's writing for an alternative magazine and that requires something a little deeper than the superficial 'banter' exchanged with Chris Matthews. If she's incapable of offering it, she needs to be kicked to the curb. It should be a basic that "I like" pieces aren't required from journalists. For those foolish enough to offer them, they should be required to do some research. Not knowing a candidate's history embarrasses not only yourself but the magazine you represent.

It's not easy to advocate the ditching of Conniff because there are so damn few women being published. But women like Conniff serve the purpose, intentionally or not, of saying 'left' women can't keep up with their male peers. And maybe The Nation magazine could offer that as their excuse for their lousy record in publishing women?

In 2007, we tracked who the 'leading magazine of the left' published and who they didn't. July 4th, the result of the first six months were published at all community sites:

"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you must have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," and "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis."

December 23rd, the tracking completed with "The Nation featured 491 male bylines in 2007 -- how many female ones?" (The Third Estate Sunday Review). Before we get to the results for the full year, let's note that the first six months saw 255 men received bylines while only 74 women did. That announced (and 'announced' by a backstabber) feature went up two days after The Nation's Ben Wyskida rushed in via e-mail to maintain, "On the subject of women and the magazine; you should also know that the magazine is more than aware of the imbalance, and has taken steps in the last several months to recruit and bring in more women writers."

Well hallelujah! The problem's being addressed. But is addressing the problem publishing 75 women to 236 men?

The magazine apparently thought it was. The first six months saw 255 men and 74 women, the second half saw 236 men and 75 women. That's working on the problem? Only in independent media could this be considered working on the problem and 'taking steps' to address a recognized 'imbalance.' So for the year, The Nation published 491 men and only 149 women.

In a world where women mattered and people were smart enough to grasp that they have the same rights to make demands of independent media as they do of mainstream media, The Nation would be called out loudly. Didn't happen and remember that the next time FAIR publishes another study of the gender ratio in the mainstream media. Remember that when we don't hold little media accountable we're in no position to hold big media accountable.

And always remember and never forget that any woman in a role of power isn't "the answer." Some women are Queen Bees and not interested in helping other women. Which is how a weekly magazine where one woman holds the title of editor and publisher could publish only 149 women but 491 men. Only a Queen Bee would write the following, "A disturbing story in The Washington Post yesterday suggested that Congress is losing its co**nes when it comes to closing some of the most obscene tax loopholes benefiting the richest of the rich--hedge funders and private equity managers." That's from her September 5th "A Democratic Litmus Test" (Editor's Cut, The Nation) and if you don't know the word I've censored, you can google the post. Unlike Katrina, I don't confuse strength with male genitalia and I'll be damned if I take part in furthering that lie. The fact that vanden Heuvel will further it means, as noted in "Does Katrina vanden Heuvel thinks she has testicles?," she either assumes she has mixed genitalia or is confessing to her own weakness.

Regardless, it was ugly and women, already under attack, didn't need it.

It bears noting that Katrina vanden Heuvel's ascent to publisher coincides with The Nation's sudden refusal to use the term "war resister" and with their refusal to cover war resisters. Prior to that, readers of the magazine could learn of modern day war resisters. The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel takes over and she's so determined to run from the topic
she pens the laughable "The Peace Primary" (google it, no link to trash). As noted in " The Peace Resister pretends to be about peace" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):

She opens with American Friends Service Committee and writes (this is in full) of them " The twelve finalists include: * American Friends Service Committee with Iraqis, military families, veterans, and peace supporters in the US to highlight the human and economic costs of war." We'll assume the verb in that sentence is missing due to computer problems (we often lose words here as well -- spell check on another feature resulted in "amp" being inserted for full sentences) so we'll ignore the fact that it's missing. But what we can't ignore is her continued silence on war resisters which, for the record, is not a silence that the Quakers practice. American Friends Service Committee started because? Of conscientious objectors. They continue that work today. It takes a real Peace Resister to write about American Friends Service Committee and not note that reality.

But she did that. For more on her tenure as publisher, you can see:

"The Nation ignores war resisters even as it publishes the child of one," "the nation magazine ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one," "The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," "The Nation ignores war resisters even while publishing the child of one," "The Nation ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one,""The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," "The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," "The Nation ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one," and "The Nation ignores war resisters even while publishing the child of one."

In fairness to Katrina, she's always been opposed to war resisters. In 2007, what's the excuse from others?

Doesn't independent media exist to tell the stories of resistance? And isn't their claim to increased fame and larger audiences the illegal war in Iraq? Didn't they tell us the truth in real time? Didn't they tell us that they loved peace, baby? They said they'd keep coming back to this topic, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, oh, baby . . .

Like a Carpenters song, the illegal war apparently dated quickly. (Maybe Sonic Youth could try to revive independent media?)

How is it that independent media could offer so many year end reviews and not note Ehren Watada? The reality is even he, the most covered war resister, fell off little media's radar in 2007 (there were exceptions) so by year's end, our White 'leaders' appeared to feel it was only the role of the Asian-geared press to cover Watada and they could easily rush off to other topics. (Rebecca called out one leader here.) What about Adam Kokesh who fought the military when they attempted to alter his discharge? Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) would call it out in real time. A few covered it after the hearing. AP, by contrast, covered it throughout, and, no surprise for MSM, they regularly ignored a 1970 Supreme Court verdict that has already addressed this issue and stated that the US military has no say in theater (street theater or big productions). For independent media to have filled in the blanks, they'd have to be aware of the Court's ruling but apparently that was more work than they were capable of.

So was interviewing war resisters emerging in 2008. Think back to it and do so in shock as you rake your brain to find one US independent outlet (broadcast or print) that made time to note even one war resister to emerge in 2008. Joel Bleifuss (In These Times) stood alone in noting the Kamunen brothers, Luke, Leif and Leo, who all self-checked out and said "no more"-- stood alone in independent media, print or broadcast.

When people take a stand, when they demonstrate the Courage to Resist*, if their stories aren't told, we need to be asking why that is? (*Courage to Resist is a wonderful organization and offers real coverage of war resisters but we don't consider them "media," they're an organization.) And we need to ask who's being served by the silence? And who's being harmed?

A clear answer comes with Josh White and Ann Scott Tyson's "Charges Against Snipers Stir Debate on 'Baiting'" piece for the Washington Post about the "kill teams" operating in Iraq -- US service members under orders to leave out items and then to shoot-to-kill any Iraqi who comes across their trap. An explosive story to be sure and one independent media (briefly) rushed to play catch up with. Catch up? Had they covered war resisters, independent media could have broadcast or printed the story on "kill teams" months prior -- the Canadian media had. How? US war resister James Burmeister, Iraq veteran, went to Canada and in the early summer months was giving as many interviews as he could line up to get the word out on the "kill teams." As always independent media had something else to do. When they tried to play catch up to the Post in September, they either still weren't aware that Burmeister had served on a "kill team" or else they were so shamed from their earlier silence that they didn't want their consumers to know about it. Not only did Canadian media cover it, regional US big media did as well. As noted here on September 26th:

In a July snapshot, this appeared: "Mark Larabee (The Oregonian) reports on Burmeister and notes the 'traps' were an issue -- setting out the fake carmera or other equipment so that someone would go for it and then shooting them for touching US property -- with James Burmeister declaring, 'As soon as anyone would mess with it, you were supposed to lay waste to them. I completely disagreed with that tactic. I can't see how that's helping anyone whatsoever'; and on Iraq, 'I though people needed to be free there. But when I went there it was all about captures and kills and it felt like we messed things up over there'." Credit to Larabee for covering it. You've got the CBC interview.

You had a lot, you just didn't have independent media. And it's way past time independent media news consumers started asking why that is -- in fact, they should be demanding answers at this point.

If independent media went out of their way to avoid Iraq and all Iraq related stories, what did they cover? 2007 was when the bulk of little media enlisted in the Barack Obama presidential campaign -- a Katrina coffee fetcher even went to work for it. Bambi would walk on his own and go to potty all by himself in 2008, indy media insisted, but right now he needed coaxing. And what better way to guarantee that than by lavishing him with non-stop praise.

As they crowded around the potty chair, they produced many embarrassing moments. To note only two of the really bad moments . . .

Out lesbian Laura Flanders took to The Nation's website to plead with Barack days after his South Carolina event that provided homophobes stage space to express their homophobia. Flanders chose to plead with Barack. To stop putting known homophobes on stage? No, to plead with him to dump Democratic king-maker Richard Daley over Daley's stance on torture. Forget themselves, Sisters Are Doing It For Barack.

Reality check would require noting that when you're personally insulted there's often a response of, "Am I making too much of this? Is it just me?" Point, Flanders isn't the only one who could have or should have called it out. In fact, as 'liberals,' progressives or whatever, it was incumbent upon all of us to stand up. Heterosexuals registering their offense would have sent a strong message that this wasn't acceptable. Instead all but the Black Agenda Report appeared to suffer from laryngitis. (And though we're not here to hand out lolly pops, it bears noting that Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon and Margaret Kimberley packed more life, more independence and more thought into any one week of 2007 than most 'independent media' could manage the whole year.)

The other embarrassing moment, and one that tickeled Big Media, came when Katrina vanden Heuvel's lust for President Obama outweighed her duties and obligations as editor and publisher of The Nation. Ari Berman had written praising Bambi for a performance. DC correspondent David Corn had called Hillary Clinton the winner. Demonstrating that she will allow no diversity of opinion and that she has no grasp on her professional roles, Katrina, grabbing the vapors, rushed to her blog to issue that her "colleague" Corn was wrong and Berman was right.

In a year that gave Big Media much to laugh at, no other gift from Little Media provided as many chuckles or as much outrage from their corporate counter-point. vanden Heuvel wasn't either Corn or Berman's colleague, she was their "boss" and, by publicly choosing sides, she angered and amused Big Media who couldn't believe any publisher at "a real magazine" (to quote one) "would be so stupid?" You can check Big Media's archives to see who got cited for their opinion of that Obama v. Clinton mix-up: Corn, Berman or vanden Heuvel? (For those lacking the time, it was David Corn.) To no one's surprise (but a loud chorus of "Good for him!"s), Corn left his home home of twenty years and moved over to become the DC bureau chief at Mother Jones.

As if to underscore the huge gap between journalism and DNC party organ, Mother Jones would offer Stephanie Mencimer's "Cheney: No Justice for Jaime Jones" while the self-billed 'leading magazine of the left' remained silent on the issue of what happened to Jamie Leigh Jones in Iraq -- even after she publicly testified before a Congressional committee. But The Nation's silence was perfectly in keeping with an independent media that completely ignored Abeer and largely ignored Suzanne Swift.

2007 would stand out as the year independent media attacked Cindy Sheehan for daring to note the reality: Democrats in Congress were not ending the illegal war despite being handed control of both houses in the November 2006 elections to do so. The Peace Mom could be kicked to the curb because the 'left' was really just schilling for the Democratic Party in most cases. Shameless "Don't Run, Cindy!" campaigns sprung up -- as ignorant and appalling as "Ralph, Don't Run!" earlier but, note, now these undemocratic 'leaders' weren't rushing to eliminate presidential contenders, they were attempting to eliminate House candidates. In 20010, look for The Nation and others to stick their big noses into municipal elections. Not surprisingly, none of the ones launching a "Don't Run, Cindy!" campaign lived in the Bay Area. If they had, they might have grasped the current House rep does not represent the eighth district of California and citizens are majorly displeased with Nancy Pelosi. (As polling of the Bay Area would later demonstrate.) But somehow the race was something for residents of Los Angeles and NYC to weigh in on -- even though they didn't know the area, didn't live in the area and wouldn't be voting in it. Instead of using their voices to support the candidates in races they COULD VOTE IN, they thought the thing to do was gang up on a woman who'd already given so much. It was disgraceful.

But not surprising. Independent media isn't "independent" and at some point may face serious probes of their tax-free status. It's one thing to be of the left, it's another to be in bed with the Democratic Party and the latter actually violates the tax-free status so many hold. Fortunately for them, Democrats currently control Congress so there will be no probe in the immediate future. (If they had any brains, they'd throw a bone or two to the Green Party and independent candidates just to give the appearance that they're not an arm of the Democratic Party.)

In addition to that reality, the attacks on Cindy shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone paying attention in March of 2007. That's when it was obvious that the Congressional Democratic leadership was selling out the voters. And that's when Pelosi's enforcer David Obey threw an abusive and public tantrum captured on video. Instead of calling out Obey, many (such as David Sirota) rushed in to defend Obey. The woman he attacked was Tina Richards and wasn't it cute the way she was either left undefended or attacked by our so-called 'left' media? It's really hard for people to even pretend you're 'independent' media when you rush to defend Obey and his tantrum while piling on the mother of wounded Iraq veteran Cloy Richards whose 'crime' was trying to get the medical attention her son was owed. It was a disgraceful moment for independent media and a lot of people would like to pretend it didn't happen.

The embarrassment might have continued for the full year had Howard Zinn's "Are We Politicians or Citizens?" (The Progressive) not made the point so many in independent media wanted to forget. That's how bad 2007 was, 'independent' media could and did go after two women working to end the illegal war, one the mother of son who died in the Iraq War, the other the mother of a son who was wounded in it. And what did independent media, so quick to slam these women, have to show for itself on Iraq? Not too damn much.

Among the big embarrasments would be Pacifica Radio's special broadcast in November to raise money for the Pacifica Radio Archives. Announced weeks in advance, it would offer two hours on war resisters. The day before the broadcast aired, Pacifica announced they had eliminated the two hours and were instead offering old speeches. Why? There are many questions to be answered including why Gregory Levey (Salon) was the only one at a US outlet to write about war resister Kyle Snyder being arrested by Canadian police (on the eve of his wedding) on the orders of the US military (Snyder was released) or that the US military crossed into Canada to search for war resister Joshua Key? Or how about why Nation correspondent Ian Williams took his "Hell No, They Won't Go!" on war resisters to another outlet?

The writers' strike has meant that Ava and I have been covering Big Media each week in our TV pieces. Make no mistake that we think Big Media has done a wonderful job in 2007. But Big Media signed up to re-sell the illegal war big time in 2007. It was very obvious as they repeatedly put out the lie that, though the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, they didn't have the power to end the illegal war. And that's just citing one example. What's Little Media's excuse? What's the excuse of 'brave' voices for their silence? Or, as Ruth put it, "If I was going to summarize public radio in 2007 in a single sentence, it would be: '2007, the year NPR won by default'."

2007 played out like Katrina vanden Heuvel had cloned herself and taken over all indy outlets. The bulk of independent media journalists couldn't make time for Iraq and appeared put out when events forced them to briefly note it. They could (and did) make 2007 all about the 2008 presidential elections. (The year really needed a column from Zinn asking "Are we merely voters or are we citizens?" Only he could have possibly ended this nonsense that repeatedly rendered citizens powerless with no means of change other than voting.) They could and did latch onto any Big Media craze. They could WASTE everyone's time for another year with the Iran War which, for the record, never started. By year's end, they were rushing to claim credit for preventing that war -- that war the establishment was blocking Bully Boy from starting. But having wasted so much time on a war that hadn't started while ignoring a real, ongoing war, it was probably necessary for them to lie to themselves and others that they stopped it.

This piece was written on the road on scraps of paper and largely revolves around what college students were expressing disgust with or what community members had e-mailed about on any given day of the year. So it's a little more representative of the American people than the bulk of so-called independent media. Piecing it together from various scraps is a pain in the ass. And while it's true that's one reason we're not rushing to note most of the exceptions in the landscape of bad Little Media, there's another reason as well: State Propaganda.

Many of the outlets that could have gotten a mention of praise for one or two programs or pieces that mentioned Iraq in some manner lost that mention when they elected to turn their programs and space over to the Cult of Bhutto in the last days of 2007. Christian Parenti and Ken Silverstein stood more or less alone in independent media by demonstrating that they were actual independent voices. And it needs to be noted that while rushing to weigh in on 'Saint' Bhutto, the same useless 'independent' voices couldn't (and didn't) say one damn word about the fact that the 3,900 mark passed (US service members killed in the Iraq War, official DoD count) last week.

It sent a message as "Editorial: Screw You" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) noted. And it was a lousy way for independent media to end 2007 but, by December, not at all surprising. In the film Nothing Sacred, The Morning Sun manages to cover up their journalistic embarrassments by staging the death of Hazel Flagg. For independent media to cover up their 2007 coverage or 'coverage' would require that they stage a mass slaughter. Instead, the only things that got slaughtered in 2007 were reality and perspective.

[Note: Martha and Shirley looked at 2007 in books, Kat addressed the year in music. The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com. Eddie e-mailed and asked that this DN! link be included also. It's Goodman and Gonzalez speaking with veterans about what they saw in Iraq.]