Monday, August 12, 2013

Greenwald is right about the Beltway media's shameless shilling for the surveillance state

By Michael J.W. Stickings

CBS News's Bob Schieffer is generally held up as a paragon of unblemished journalistic virtue, an objective newsman from the disappearing old school, a presence of insurmountable repute, a host / moderator version of the dean of the Beltway media elite itself, David Broder. Something like that. Whatever the details of the honor, he is widely seen as objectivity personified, and so to be revered, and not questioned, for he is eternally above the partisan fray.

What a bunch of fucking bullshit.

Schieffer is hardly the worst of the bunch, and perhaps he's ultimately better than many -- which is faint praise, to be sure -- but he's hardly objective (as if anyone really is), and often it's all too clear which side he's on: the side of the center-right establishment, generally friendly to Republicans and their agenda.

Case in point: His three guests yesterday on Face the Nation for a discussion of NSA surveillance? I'll let Glenn Greenwald explain:

Schieffer led another NSA discussion and invited on three of the most pro-NSA individuals in the country: [former CIA/NSA head Michael] Hayden, GOP Rep. Peter King, and Democratic Rep. Charles "Dutch" Ruppersberger, whose district includes the NSA and who is the second-largest recipient in Congress of cash from the defense and intelligence industries. No criticisms of the NSA were heard. Instead, Schieffer repeatedly pushed even Hayden to go further in his defense of the NSA and in his attacks on Snowden than Hayden wanted to...

This on top of his previous attacks on Snowden:

Two weeks ago, Schieffer interviewed NSA critic Sen. Mark Udall and told him that his concerns were invalid. "We have laws and all that sort of thing. So the fact that they would have this ability, there's nothing to suggest that they are doing this. And there seem to be a lot of safeguards to prevent them from doing that," Schieffer said. The TV host added: "Fifty-six terror plots here and abroad have been thwarted by the NASA [sic] program. So what's wrong with it, then, if it's managed to stop 56 terrorist attacks? That sounds like a pretty good record." (Schieffer's claims were all false: see, for instance, here, here, and here).

Bob Schieffer pushing the establishment (in this case, Obama Administration) line and getting a lot wrong in the process? Nothing new there.

Such is what passes for objectivity -- for fairness and balance -- in Washington.

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