My fellow blogger, Spike, quoted at length an op-ed written by Frank Rich
, a regular contributor to the New York Times. I love Spike's writing, but I am not particularly fond of Frank Rich or much that is written on the Op-ed page of the New York Times [I call it the New York Democrat].
It is largely a rehash piece of the golden years of investigative journalism with particular focus on Watergate and the Nixon Whitehouse's handling of the affair. Rich tries to link that guilty Nixon administration with some of the current events faced by the Bush administration and tries to draw press quashing parallels. You can read it here
. Rich's money quote from the piece....
The current administration, a second-term imperial presidency that outstrips Nixon's in hubris by the day, leads the attack, trying to intimidate and snuff out any Woodwards or Bernsteins that might challenge it, any media proprietor like Katharine Graham or editor like Ben Bradlee who might support them and any anonymous source like Deep Throat who might enable them to find what Carl Bernstein calls "the best obtainable version of the truth."
So Frank Rich offers a grand total of two examples of the heinous behavior of the Bush imperial administration and their incredible hubris that intimidates and snuffs out all the hard working journalists efforts to discover "the best obtainable version of the truth."
So lets take a look at these two examples. Rich talks about the Bush Whitehouse "sliming" of Newsweek by Scott McClellan, the Whitehouse spokesman. This is of course done publicly where the press able to question and talk back. But before we get into that, lets make sure we understand what the Newsweek story was all about from Wikipedia
In the May 9, 2005 issue of Newsweek, an article by reporter Michael Isikoff stated that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay "in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet." Detainees had earlier made similar complaints but this was the first time a government source had appeared to confirm the story. The news was purported to be a cause of widespread rioting and massive anti-American protests throughout some parts of the Islamic world (causing at least 15 deaths in Afghanistan). The magazine later revealed that the anonymous source behind the allegation could not confirm that the book-flushing was actually under investigation, and retracted the story under heavy criticism. Ironically, similar desecration by U.S. personnel was more or less confirmed by the U.S. a month later.
So, the issue with Newsweek is that they were alleging not only was the Koran desecrated but it was alleged that it was used by interrogators to "rattle"
detainees....implying that the Koran was used as a tool or implying that suspects were being tortured
by descrating the Koran in front of them in an interrogation process. They did not allege that this was accidental but deliberate. So Newsweek got it wrong and was forced to retract its story.
Obviously this was expected to be the opening salvo of a full scale scandal. [I have tried to find the actual article but as of this writing I cannot find it and link to it.] I do not argue that the military here is without complicity and there were mistakes made, but as I go into more detail here
, in a previous piece, I think that it amounts to alot of nothing. But in the echo chamber of the left, its PROOF that Newsweek was right. Sorry, but it just doesn't work that way.
And here are the horrible, awful, hubritic things screamed and yelled at the poor cowering
journalists that fear for their lives and souls in front of the imperial Bush administration's press spokesman, Herr McClellan.
"We appreciate the step that Newsweek took yesterday," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "It was a good first step. And what we would like to see now is for Newsweek to work to help repair the damage that has been done, particularly in the region, and Newsweek certainly has the ability to help undo what damage can be undone."
While offering few specifics, McClellan said Newsweek should explain "what happened and why they got it wrong, particularly to people in the region."
"They can also talk about policies and practices of the United States military. Our United States military goes out of its way to treat the holy Koran with great care and respect," he said.
And lets go onto the only other alleged hubris inciting fear and loathing by the weak kneed quaking in fear press.
The attacks continue to be so successful that even now, long after many news organizations, including The Times, have been found guilty of failing to puncture the administration's prewar W.M.D. hype, new details on that same story are still being ignored or left uninvestigated. The July 2002 "Downing Street memo," the minutes of a meeting in which Tony Blair and his advisers learned of a White House effort to fix "the intelligence and facts" to justify the war in Iraq, was published by The London Sunday Times on May 1. Yet in the 19 daily Scott McClellan briefings that followed, the memo was the subject of only 2 out of the approximately 940 questions asked by the White House press corps, according to Eric Boehlert of Salon.
So lets see, from the above quote is Mr. Rich saying that the Third Reich Bush administration is attacking the press for not fully investigating the WMD hype surrounding prewar leadup to the Iraq invasion? Huh? Did I miss something here? What attacks? So what Rich is saying is that because the press screwed up and did not do their job, the implication, without a mention or shred of any kind of information in this piece is that devil inspired Bush administration must have pressured the press into not asking questions. Really? How?
And yes, I too find it very odd, that one lone article by The London Sunday Times on May 1
on the Downing Street Memo that says that the the American intelligence on Iraq weapons of mass destruction were being fixed around the policy is not being thoroughly investigated by today's modern day journalistic lone rangers. Why not
? I would like to see it looked into myself. The implication here is that it MUST be Bush SS Waffen storm troopers that have intimidated the press into complete capitulation to the Bush hegemony.
Or....maybe the press is so frightened to make a big deal out of that memo since maybe it fears that its not real? Or irrelevant and taken out of context
? I haven't seen a pdf of the memo in the Times article, easy enough to do, I imagine. Oh heavens. Maybe it was typed on a 1960's style manual typewriter like the ones used in the Texas National Guard of that era. Or maybe they know its fake or somewhat question its relevance and they don't want to drag the Times through the mud, so they just keep silent about it.
On balance, I have to say that Rich's scare tactics, the attempt and the traditional writers trick to make Bush foibles the modern day equivalent of the Nixon Watergate fiasco just doesn't impress me. But I am sure that in the echo chamber of much of the left, this is the stuff that just bounces around getting louder and louder.