Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Everything that is rancid and corrupt with our political media"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

You don't need me to tell you to read Glenn Greenwald, but for God's/god's/gods' sake, read this.

In case you haven't been following Glenn's recent blogging, his "nutshell" discussion of all that is "rancid and corrupt" with the media is the latest in a series of posts exposing the lies, misrepresentations, and appalling journalistic shortcomings, to put it mildly, of Joe Klein and Time magazine. It began here, with this:

For the sake of its own credibility, Time Magazine needs immediately to prohibit Joe Klein from uttering another word about the eavesdropping and FISA controversy. He simply doesn't know what he's talking about and he publishes demonstrably false statements.

Klein's latest article in Time does nothing more than what Klein and most Beltway "liberal" pundits always do and have been doing for the last twenty years -- namely, warn Democrats that they will lose elections unless they renounce their beliefs and act as much as possible like Republicans on national security issues. The article is entitled "Still Stumbling on National Security" and contains every 1980-2003 cliche about how Democrats better not oppose the big, mean, tough George Bush on war issues or else Rush Limbaugh will attack them and they'll lose.

It then continued here, here, here, and here. As it turned out, Time didn't prohibit Klein from uttering more FISA nonsense:

Joe Klein has just posted yet again about his FISA confusion, and it has now moved well beyond farce into an almost pity-inducing realm. If Time has any dignity at all, someone there will intervene and put a stop to this. It's actually difficult to watch.

In the last five days alone, Klein has now written five separate times about his FISA debacle, and is further away than ever from having any idea what he's even talking about -- first was the column itself; second was the Swampland post the same day in which he emphatically defended the accuracy of what he wrote in response to my post; third was the post yesterday in which Klein said he "may have made a mistake in [his] column this week about the FISA legislation" -- the understatement of the year; fourth was an Update he added to that post this morning claiming that he did speak to a Democrat but "may have misinterpreted a Democratic source's point" and "if [he] did, a correction will appear in the print magazine next week"; and now, his fifth effort in tonight's post, actually worse than all the others, in which he still professes confusion after "spen[ding] the past few days nosing around in the ongoing dispute about what the House FISA Reform bill actually says."

Which is to say, he offered advice to Democrats from a position of abject ignorance. But he kept on writing about FISA, confusion notwithstanding, and Time kept on supporting him, providing a platform for his ignorance and confusion -- and his arrogance -- and a readership of millions. And instead of admitting error, Time has hidden behind the charade of "balance":

All Time can say about this matter is that Republicans say one thing and Democrats claim another. Who is right? Is one side lying? What does the bill actually say, in reality?

That's not for Time to say. After all, they're journalists, not partisans. So they just write down what each side says. It's not for them to say what is true, even if one side is lying.

In this twisted view, that is called "balance" -- writing down what each side says. As in: "Hey - Bush officials say that there is WMD in Iraq and things are going great with the war (and a few people say otherwise). It's not for us to decide. It's not our fault if what we wrote down is a lie. We just wrote down exactly what they said." At best, they write down what each side says and then go home. That's what they're for.

That our typical establishment "journalist" conceives of this petty clerical task as their only role is not news. But it is striking to see the nation's "leading news magazine" so starkly describe how they perceive their role.

Oh, and how badly did Klein first misrepresent the Democratic version of FISA? He initially claimed that it "would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans" -- or, in other words, that Democrats defend terrorists.

Which was a lie, however much he may plead ignorance, if he pleads at all -- and a vicious lie at that.

"Well beyond stupid." "Factually false."

Under the pompous guise of advising Democrats, all Klein has done, like so many othere in the professional punditocracy, is spew Republican talking points, criticizing Democrats for not being more Republican. (Again, read Glenn on this, especially his first post.) "I can't recall a recent incident that has shone as much bright light on the ugly, vapid, propagandistic practices of our national media. The more they speak, the more they reveal what they are," Glenn concludes.

I don't expect much from a hack like Joe Klein, nor even from Time, nor from any other major media outlet. And I've given up using words like "incredible" and "unbelievable" when commenting on such incidents. There's nothing surprising anymore about how the media operate. There is a "bright light" here, and this is an illustrative case, but what is being revealed is the sickness and corruption that we already knew was there.

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