Tuesday, February 13, 2007

D.C. Droppings -- IV

Journalistic Betrayals

For as long as I can remember, the Washington Post has insisted it prefers to get news on the record and will not use anonymous sources unless absolutely necessary. This position has hardened over the years as more and more journalistic scandals have unfolded.

Yet what are we to make of reporter Glenn Kessler's testimony at the Libby trial, as reported by the New York Times?

“Almost every single conversation I have in Washington is on background,” Mr. Kessler, who covers foreign affairs for The Post, told the jury.

I guess the Post ran out of space in the paper and on the Internet to report Kessler's testimony. Or maybe it was not reported because he admitted his entire career is based on direct violation of the newspaper's policy and violation of readers' trust. He ought to be fired and become a "citizen journalist" somewhere.

A few days earlier, Tim Russert of NBC, said the same thing – he assumes everything he is told cannot be attributed. Neither Russert nor his albino stepbrother wannabe Chris Matthews are journalists, as they claim. They are former Democratic party operatives who went directly into book-writing and television. Neither to my knowledge, has ever covered a police station, a school board or a council meeting.

There are reasons to accept "background" information, but they should be rare and they should justified by a greater good coming from a story that cannot be obtained otherwise. The presumption has to be everything is on the record unless there is a compelling reason for it not to be. There is no justification for masking the identity of public servants in order to hide the truth or, more likely, to cover some bureaucrat's ass.

These overpaid, overeducated, clean-fingernail society tarts who call themselves journalists actually think high officials are telling them things because they like them! Which, if true, is even worse than breaking the rules in pursuit of a good story.

Bad Journalism is Everywhere

Is it too easy to go after television "reporters?" Yes, but I say mock them till Doomsday, anyway. The Drooling Queen at the national level has to be NBC's Midwest correspondent Janet Shamlian, who this morning said that snow-affected regions were deploying "the defensive artillery" of shovels, plows and road salt. Last summer, Shamlian's told us that "the heat wave has a chokehold on the nation's midsection." Let's hope we control global warming so that Shamlian will run out of weather stories to butcher.

Even in New York

The New York Daily News recently reported on a 9/11 cop who died of lung disease because of all the months he spent at the Twin Towers rubble without breathing apparatus due to the fact federal officials promised the the air was safe to breathe. Bushitler invited the man's son, an advocate for the New York first responders, to the State of the Union Address. Saint Shrillary immediately used the dead cop as a symbol to demand Bushitler provide more money for the 9/11 first responders.

Only trouble is that no one bothered to check the facts until the New York Times did, today.

What's Worse than Bad Journalism is No Journalism

Television station KFTY in Santa Rosa, Calif., fired its entire news staff. It will rely instead on videotaped community news from private individuals. KFTY is owned by Clear Channel, which controls the music industry through its ownership of more than 1,200 radio station and which was last mentioned here as the company that barred the Dixie Chicks from the airwaves the public owns.


A military expert who blogs for washingtonpost.com and provides commentary for NBC News got in trouble for referring to the troops in Iraq as mercenaries who have no business telling the rest of America to support the war lest they lose their morale. He apologized for use of the M word, though I don't believe he needed to.

"Mercenaries" are exactly what most men and women in uniform are. It is exactly what most Americans are – people who get paid to do a job they might rather not be doing. They do it, in many cases, because they didn't do well enough in high school or college to go into a higher-paying, secure job. Kerry had that one right, too. We don't pay them enough, but as a nation we are eager to pay them lip service for the rest of their lives so that younger generations are snookered into believing there is some honor in fighting another man's war.

If we had a draft, how long do you think we would be mired in Iraq? So, they are mercenaries. Get over it or go over there yourself.

"The Troops"

Just how stupid do the Republicans think the rest of America is by having to inject "the troops" into every argument about U.S. warmongering since Vietnam? "The troops" don't need any support other than decent pay, decent weapons, decent armor and decent meals. They signed up to a do a job, part of which is getting wounded or killed in service to the Republican Party.

Their loyalty is to their buddies, their units and the chain of command, headed by the decider-in-chief. And he is responsible to the will of the American people, even though he stole it in the first putsch this country has ever seen.

"The troops" don't get to tell the American people which wars to fight. Soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines are supposed to do what the hell they are told and shut up about it. That is what makes this country great – civilian control of the military. "The troops," the president, the Congress work for us, not the other way around.

I say support "the troops" not just by pulling them out of "harm's way" but by finding them better wars to fight.

Hyman Roth Called it Right

Watching the House of Representatives debate on the war on C-SPAN, I am constantly amused by the sound of politicians – almost all of them Republicans – denouncing anything they disagree with as mere "politics." Excuse me, Mr. David Dreier, you blow-dried, suntanned, closeted geek, but you are in politics. Everything discussed in Congress and in political campaigns is politics. Politics is the means by which great decisions are supposed to be made, as opposed, to, say, bribery, which Dreier's Republican buddies had raised to an art form.

To quote the sage Hyman Roth, "This is the business we have chosen."

To be fair, a freshman Democrat said something in the debate that may redound badly to him and his party. He likened Bush's invasion of Iraq to Hitler's invasion of Poland. Not quite cricket, according to the rules of Mr. Dreier's "politics," but it's nice to hear someone else call Bush another Hitler.

Right on, Congressman Steve Cohen!

Another Brainwashed Romney

Republican Haircut Mitt Romney announced for president today with a provocative declaration that "I love America." His father, you old-timers may recall, was governor of Michigan and a presidential wannabe until he turned against the Vietnam war, saying he had been "brainwashed" over there by our generals ("the troops," as you will recall.)

This pusillanimous little puppybrain also said he is running because “I do not believe Washington can be transformed from within by a lifelong politician. There have been too many deals, too many favors, too many entanglements and too little real world experience managing, guiding, leading.”

That's right, Mittney Spears. Look at all the other outsiders who have transformed Washington from without – Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bushitler. Look at all the insiders who have transformed Washington from within – Truman, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, George Herbert Walker Bush. Nobody can transform Washington (except the always-wrong TV weather personalities in winter). You get elected to manage the people's will, as you see it, by making deals, trading favors and acting totally unlike the deal-making, favor-trading, legally-entangled businessmen like yourself.

So I wonder who Romney was talking about as being "lifelong politicians" besides himself, whose father was a governor and who himself was a governor. Could it be war hero John McCain? Could it be prosecutor Rudy Giuliani? Could it be Bushitler, proof of Oliver Wendell Holmes' dictum that "three generations of imbeciles are enough?"

Or is Romney proving once again that the act of running for president should disqualify anyone from being president?

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