Monday, January 30, 2006
(Swans - January 30, 2006) If anyone has any doubts about the mainstream corporate media's subservience to power, they only need to look at the virtual media blackout of Al Gore's recent speech warning of the threat posed by the Bush regime to our Constitution and our liberties.
Gore said that President Bush "repeatedly and persistently" broke the law by eavesdropping on Americans without court approval, and he called for an independent investigation.
Big news, right?
After all, Gore isn't a nobody, not even a routine politician. He is the man who was denied the presidency by one Supreme Court vote. Any newspaper with a shred of news sense, and honor, should have led the front page with it.
You would think.
But it didn't happen. No paper that I'm aware of carried it as the lead story. Few, if any, carried it on the front page. Many, perhaps most, didn't carry it at all. The New York Times, the nation's paper of "record," was one of them.
Online news coverage was similar. Yahoo, for example, did not consider it one of its lead stories. At the time of the Gore speech, it highlighted as the most important stories: a helicopter downed in Iraq, "big Security Council" members agree on Iran, Sharon hears grandson's voice, WHO says bird flu diminishing in Turkey, and an Atlanta mayor makes a speech about Martin Luther King.
AP's Top Stories reported on Yahoo at that time were: 99% of the votes in Iraq are valid (remarkable, much better than in the US), Rice won't run for the White House, 20 killed in Afghanistan, NASA to launch spaceship, bigger hard drives.
And that is all too typical. The coverage of White House-ordered spying by the NSA could have been written by the presidential PR staff.
For example, one AP lead said: "President Bush pushed back Monday at critics of his once-secret domestic spying effort, saying it should be termed a 'terrorist surveillance program' and contending it has the backing of legal experts, key lawmakers and the Supreme Court."
"Pushed back?" What's this, a junior high shoving match? His "once-secret." I love that. It was "once secret" because he tried to hide it, until he was outed. "Domestic spying effort." That's a polite way of saying, "his illegal and outrageous act of spying on American citizens."
The second paragraph of the story points out: "Several members of Congress from both parties have questioned whether the warrantless snooping is legal. That is because it bypasses a special federal court that, by law, must authorize eavesdropping on Americans and because the president provided limited notification to only a few lawmakers."
The first sentence of the paragraph suggests that there's some question about the legality of Bush's action. Whereas, the second makes it quite clear that Bush broke the law.
The opposition isn't heard from until the ninth paragraph of that story: "Democrats countered that many important questions remain. We can be strong and operate under the rule of law," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev). "These are not mutually exclusive principles -- they are the principles upon which our nation was founded."
That's it. That silly little quote by Reid is all the space AP was willing to give to the loyal opposition.
In typical fashion, the White House slant is the only one given credence by the mainstream corporate media. Their stories suggest that the argument is about whether or not we should gather anti-terrorist intelligence in the U.S.
Exactly the way the White House wants the story framed.
There are other possibilities, other ways of reporting the story. The story could be presented more honestly and fairly, for example, as a dispute about illegal government behavior, or preserving Constitutional safeguards.
And the mainstream media might examine a Zogby Poll which shows a majority favor impeaching Bush. By a margin of 52% to 43%, the poll says, Americans want Congress to impeach President Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge's approval, which, of course, he has already admitted. This story, too, goes virtually uncovered.
What we are talking about here is not Fox TV's raw, heavy-handed propaganda disguised as news. It is more subtle, a matter of slant and nuance. Take this recent AP story, which was headlined: "Democrats Scold White House Over Spying"
The story begins, "Democratic senators took the Bush administration to task Friday ..."
"Scold"? "took to task"? Hardly.
The story quotes Sen. Edward Kennedy: "If President Bush can make his own rules for domestic surveillance, Big Brother has run amok."
That is not a scolding. For once, it expresses a well deserved sense of outrage. It is calling a spade a spade, a tyrant a tyrant.
Another example of slant was carried on Reuters news service in a story that began, "Republican and Democratic senators said on Sunday the United States may ultimately have to undertake a military strike to deter Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, but that should be the last resort."
That grandiose lead makes it sound like we're talking about the whole Senate. And after Congress gave its whole-hearted endorsement for a brutal, outrageous, and unprovoked war on Iraq, that is indeed worrisome.
So, are we talking about the whole Senate? Well actually, the story lists three -- count them three -- senators.
Careless writing? Or just another example of the corporate media's unrelenting support for the administration and war?
We report; you decide.