- Ministers 'Using Fear of Terror'"A former head of MI5 has accused the government of exploiting the fear of terrorism and trying to bring in laws that restrict
- Obama Administration Defending Bush Secrets"Despite
President Barack Obama's vow to open government more than ever, the
Justice Department is defending Bush administration decisions to keep
secret many documents about domestic wiretapping, data collection on
travelers and U.S. citizens, and interrogation of suspected terrorists."
- Democrats Divided Over 'Reckoning' for Bush"With
growing public support for a public investigation of crimes that may
have been committed by the administration of former president George W.
Bush in waging its "global war on terror", policy makers and legal
experts are deeply divided on how to proceed - and President Barack
Obama seems ambivalent about whether to proceed at all."
- Republicans Block Closing of Guantanamo"...the
pre-emptive legislation and media campaigns from Republicans - and at
least one Democrat - are intended to defend George Bush's legacy
against those who claim the prison has damaged America's standing in
the world and has become a recruiting symbol for terrorists."
- Activists Calling for Uprisings for Causes"Marches,
rallies and honks for peace are all good strategies - but they're not
enough, say local activists who gathered Saturday to discuss tactics
for social change. It's time now for something more, a kind of
"peaceful uprising," they say... The "old model" of social activism
hasn't proved effective, said DeChristopher, who appeared on two
panels. "We have to convince leaders that there will be an uprising,"
he said. "Changing a light bulb is not an appropriate response" to the
Obama and the Media Dilemma
Published on Tuesday, February 17, 2009 by Consortium
by Robert Parry
was only a few years ago - when the Republicans controlled both
Congress and the White House - that the U.S. news media offered up
one-sided coverage of the Bush administration, relying on Republicans,
right-wingers and pro-war military experts to shape what Americans got
to see and read.
reason for marginalizing Democrats and other critical voices, we were
told, was that the Republicans were in power and it made no sense to
have on guests or to quote experts who didn't share in the power. The
premium was to have Republican insiders explaining what was going on.
one might have thought that when the Democrats won control of Congress
and the White House, Republicans would largely disappear from the TV
chat shows and the news pages. After all, the Republicans today have
even fewer representatives in Washington than the Democrats did during
most of the Bush years.
if you thought that, you would be wrong. Instead, the cable networks
and the print media have been falling over themselves to get the views
of Republicans and to disseminate those opinions widely to the American
During a key early stage in the battle over Barack Obama's stimulus bill, the Center for American Progress examined the political affiliations of guests on major cable networks and found that
Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 2-to-1. Suddenly, the premium was on the views of those out of power.
other words, Republicans get to dominate the news programs when they're
in power and they get to dominate when they're out of power. The one
constant is that the U.S. news media bends over backwards to favor the
Republicans; what changes is the rationale.
dynamic was even more acute in the run-up to invading Iraq when CNN and
MSNBC competed to out-fox Fox as the most aggressively flag-waving,
pro-war network. Iraq War skeptics were decidedly not welcome, whether
the likes of former weapons inspector Scott Ritter or Rep. Ike Skelton,
who was a ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.
raised questions about invading Iraq, you were a flake - and no
self-respecting producer wanted to risk his/her career by allowing such
a dissident opinion on the air. Media insiders took note of what
happened to talk-show host Phil Donahue at MSNBC when he booked a few
anti-war voices to dissent from the views of a majority of his pro-war
wasn't much difference in the so-called prestige newspapers, such as
the Washington Post and the New York Times. Everybody knew which side
their career bread was buttered - and it wasn't in offending President
Bush, the Republicans or their right-wing allies.
Rip Van Winkle who awoke during that period might have thought the
Soviet Union had won the Cold War and had imposed its concept of press
freedom on the United States.
there was a logical explanation for this dynamic. Since the mid-1970s -
when the Washington press corps exposed Richard Nixon's Watergate
scandal and printed the secret Pentagon Papers history of the Vietnam
War - the Republicans and the Right have mounted an expensive drive to
label the press as "liberal" and to punish journalists who dug up
funding anti-journalism attack groups, the Right financed its own media
infrastructure - from print forms like newspapers, magazines and books
to electronic media like TV, radio and later the Internet. As tens of
billions of dollars poured in consistently over the past three decades,
the Right achieved a powerful influence over the U.S. media.
American liberals and the Left largely ignored the growing media
imbalance, counting on mainstream journalists to somehow resist the
encroachment of right-wing pressure. The progressive side also did
little when honest journalists were punished and marginalized, which
left behind careful media careerists who understood how ruthless the
right-wingers could be.
time, the U.S. national news media could be roughly defined as those
who worked directly for right-wing outlets and those who survived in
mainstream news organizations by recognizing the limits of how far they
could safely go in annoying the Right.
since the co-opted mainstream journalists won't admit their
professional timidity, they had to come up with excuses to explain
So, when George W. Bush and the Republicans were
at the height of their power, media professionals justified booking
lots of pro-Bush operatives since they were the insiders. Now, with the
Republicans out of power, a premium is placed on having as many voices
as possible from the GOP opposition.
if in 2012, the Republicans retake the White House and Congress, you
can expect that the rationale will shift back again and there will a
preponderance of Republican insiders.
As readers of
Consortiumnews.com know, our view is that the only way to change this
dynamic is for concerned Americans to invest substantially in building
media institutions that aren't afraid of the Right and won't bend to
those pressures. [For details, see our book, Neck Deep.]
that happens, one can expect this strange media dynamic to continue -
and President Obama is likely to remain on the defensive.