Monday, May 01, 2006

Bush's de-press-ion

Unabashedly, no excuses, I'm a fan of The Nation in particular Eric Alterman as my partner can attest to my dogeared copy of his book, What Liberal Media? To those interested in a free press and dismayed at the subjugation of media by the Bush Administration, I recommend you check Eric's regular column at The Nation and bookmark his blog, Altercation.

Alterman's latest post in follow-up to Bush's War on the Press, a must-read, addresses an FBI demand of the family of the late Jack Anderson to examine the private papers of the Pultizer Prize-winning investigative journalist, particularly of interest, the AIPAC case. Whatever are they afraid of? With the Bush WH, anything that can besmirch the GOP's ever-growing tainted image especially on national security matters offers a reason for suppression although the FBI's claim to find AIPAC information "is dubious in the extreme." Maybe there's no there there other than GOP damage control and, of course, showing the media who's the Boss. Alterman:

This troubling case is but one manifestation of a larger pattern, in which Administration officials decide which classified information they, personally, are entitled to leak and which information they can try to suppress, even to the point of threatening jail. We know that Bush, Dick Cheney, I. Lewis Libby and possibly Karl Rove felt no compunction about releasing classified data to sympathetic reporters like Bob Woodward, Judith Miller and Robert Novak to discredit critics of their plans for Iraq. Recently, Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for AIPAC case defendant Steven Rosen, told the court that Condoleezza Rice leaked national defense information that handed Franklin his twelve-year prison stint. But no matter. Journalists are being questioned and subpoenaed in official leak investigations relating to stories about the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program and the CIA's secret prisons overseas, both of which stories garnered well-deserved Pulitzer Prizes (and one got the alleged CIA leaker, Mary McCarthy, fired). McCarthy not only denies the leak but the knowledge as well.
We also learned recently of a program begun after 9/11 through which the National Archives and Records Administration secretly agreed with government agencies to withdraw previously declassified documents from the archives. These agreements were reached during the tenure of US Archivist John Carlin, who now says he was "shocked" to learn of them in a recent New York Times report.... cannot escape the conclusion that as its poll numbers fall, the Bush Administration is ratcheting up its war against the media to hide its massive failure to defend the nation's security and uphold the laws of its Constitution. What's going on is more than just the traditional practice of feeding friendly reporters considered to be "in the tank" and shutting out those unwilling to play by the rules of the goldfish bowl that is the White House press room. Rather, it is an assault on accountability itself. Administration officials rarely speak on the record about anything of substance, and even on background they lie with imperial impunity. Cheney and his staff felt empowered to let no one know that the Vice President of the United States shot someone in the face. Secret, potentially nuclear, war plans are being made for Iran, and we as a nation are given no means to judge their necessity or credibility.
And that's the bellwether, the assault on accountability, the canary in the coal mine for a democracy. Without a free press to expose the corruption, lies, abuse of power, and the hidden agenda of our elected officials, accountability of politicians in charge of the public's pursestrings and well-being doom us to a de facto tyranny of oligarchs, plutocrats, and theocons.

With the intersection of media consolidation and the news trend toward content packaging, I wonder whether our democracy will survive if the GOP continues to manipulate the levers of power while intimidating the lapdogs of a complicit, bottom-line driven American press.

And that reminds me... get your copy of Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga's book, Crashing The Gate, and Glenn Greenwald's, How Would A Patriot Act? Soon I hope to publish a lengthy post of recommended books that American patriots must have in their home libraries.

Besides books, thank God for the Blogosphere.