Thursday, 3 May 2007

Cosy relationship

“This is a moment when people already think the press is too cozy with government,” said Dean Baquet, The New York Times’ Washington, D.C., bureau chief. “And I think these events confirm that.”

Mr. Baquet was on the phone on April 30, nine days after his first-ever trip to a White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner—and his last, according to the newspaper’s current plans.

Welcome news, no doubt, from the highly-regarded Baquet, but too little, and much too late. I've been watching Bill Moyers' Journal, available here, you see. And although we all knew almost all of it the whole time, it still chills the blood to see it stated so baldly, and so boldly:

The US Administration was able to take the country (and the rest of the world) into a dreadful, pointless, monumentally expensive and illegal war based on lies because the press didn't stop them.

Note: I didn't say they couldn't stop them. They could have. The small hint of a vestige of consolation in the film is the fact that a handful of journalists -- the names of those featured are Bob Simons of CBS' 60 Minutes, and Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel of Knight-Ridder -- were absolutely on top of the true story just exactly as you'd expect them to be. All those people who are now feigning outrage at the idea of the government lying are no more than CYA-merchants, liars and hypocrites attempting to bamboozle the same public they helped bamboozle before.

The major newspapers knew what was going on, because Landay and Strobel were telling them. They ignored the truth for their own reasons -- whether they sincerely believed a war to be necessary or whether they feared having their patriotism impugned as Arturo Ui-type demagogues like Bill O'Reilly stated he was happy to do, it hardly matters -- and what is more they conspired to ensure the truth was kept from the public.

Both of those are cardinal sins of journalism.