Where was the outrage
For absorbing the lies
From the top of the page
On American lives
And where was the press
In this time of distress?
Is more than just jive.
It is difficult to decide the greater crime between the 935 documented major lies of the Bush Administration and the absolute failure of the press to challenge or counter them with research and clear expression of outrage. Without defending the Bushies, did not every newspaper and every major media outlet have the opportunity and responsibility to speak out?
Recall that we are not merely discussing weak intelligence, but documented information that the administration had full knowledge of what was correct and deliberately chose to promulgate lies…and then repeat the lies. The recent study published by the Center for Public Integrity listed the contributions of major administration players and, not surprisingly, GW Bush was the Liar in Chief with 232 documented whoppers. “Documented” is an important distinction. For example, the false charge that the Iraqis had trucks designed and built for biological operations and proven to be false was used by the Bushies for a full six months after the truth was known. Thanks to Colin Powell and the AWOL press.
Perhaps there is a conflict of interest that we must finally recognize and deal with. A war may be far more interesting than peace. A war may sell more newspapers than peace. Newspapers and other media seemed to relish sending dramatic images across the globe. Some media such as FOX News chose to be cheerleaders for war and no major media representative energized examination of the facts or became spokesperson for caution or truth. Back on 28 September 1913, the New York Times reported on a speech “Art and Conscience in Newspaper Making” by Samuel Bowles of the Springfield Republican He spoke of the evil that would fall on society if the newspaper distorted or misrepresented the news. Unfortunately, even the formerly venerable NY Times was overcome by the clear conflict of interest. War sells papers. Papers sell advertising. Headlines and bylines provide great compensation for unscrupulous reporters or writers. Judith Miller of the NY Times actually went to jail after distributing false information and refusing to name her sources. This is just how misguided we have become, that the truth or falsity of a story has become less important than protection of a criminal source.
The scope of the lies and the huge apparatus used to maintain the mythology of supporting the troops while exploiting the hell out of them is mind numbing. Even if these reporters and media outlets wanted war for selfish interests, did they have no conscience to help our brave men and women sent to fight the war? Add to that the rewriting of history and we have not only lost our way and our collective conscience, but we are losing the ability to sort this out for our children and grandchildren. Incidentally, of all the Presidential candidates, including Democrats, only Ron Paul has had the courage to call the war a “horrible mistake.” Others have succumbed to the revision of history and “the best intelligence at the time.” Neither Ignorance nor Stupidity is absolution nor is blaming the Bushies. If the Bushies led the parade, then why did politicians and media march behind them? What did we do as individuals to point out the lies and join with our neighbors to challenge them and have a counter march?
I do not subscribe to the moral certainty that, for our omissions, we are all damned to hell and, more important; there is still work to be done. There is a real enemy, Osama bin Ladin, to bring to justice. There are lives to be saved. There is truth to be told. There is our progeny’s treasure to be protected. (We spend $720 million per day of their money for the war in Iraq.) There is a new generation to be led into honesty. And yes, there are impeachments to be held for future as well as current accountability. This may not be absolution, but it is recognition of the sins by politicians, our media and us. When we are done, there is a real history waiting to be written. Guilt is an ineffective motivator. Hope is a far better motivator. We need to change our future rather than our history.
27 January 2008