July 17, 2003

The Press Gives Bush A Free Ride On His Lies

One of the biggest problems we face in this struggle
is lack of continuity from news cycle to news cycle
and from year to year...For example, it is never
pointed out in the "US mainstream news media" that
Calm 'Em Powell promised under oath at his
confirmation hearings that the Clinton-Gore initiative
on peace talks with the North Koreans would be
continued in the bi-partisan tradition of US foreign
policy. Of course, shortly thereafter, the _resident
broke off those negotiations, and then after 9/11
declared North Korea part of the "Axis of Evil,"
tweaking the disturbed little man in Pyongyang and
starting the chain reaction that has led to a crisis n
the Korean penninsula far more immediate than any
potential threat that existed in Iraq. In short, the
_resident turned the North Korean nuclear weapons
program back on...The "US mainstream news media" never
looks back at what was said in the Gore-Bush debates in 2000, and so who
remembers what Gore warned us about in regard to the
huge surpluses created under the previous
administration? Now we have huge deficits that will
grow for decades to come. We would not have had these
deficits under Gore (the man who was elected). We
would have had the money to fight Al-Qaeda and spend
on pressing domestic concerns and still survive an
economic downturn that would not have been so severe.
And of course, we would not have needed the money for
a multi-billion dollar monthly tab in occupied
Iraq...So there is no continuity. The _resident and
his cabal are giving free reign. There is so
circumspection. The only reason one lie (16 words) in
the SOTU speech is being highlighted in the "US
mainstream news media" is because US soldiers are
shedding their blood. And of course, there are at
least 120+ words constituting lies in the SOTU. It
will be interesting to see if and when this fact dawns
on the "US mainstream news media." How many more US
soldiers will have to die before the news media
attacks aggresively? Do not cut the "US mainstream
news media" any slack. They are only reporting some
negative news now because the blood of US soldiers is
spotting on their que cards, their press credentials
and their drink tickets. Here is an excellent analysis
by Robert Kuttner of the Boston Globe.


Published on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 by the Boston
The Press Gives Bush A Free Ride On His Lies
by Robert Kuttner

I'M GLAD THAT the press is finally making an issue of
President Bush's knowing use of a faked intelligence
report on Iraq's supposed nuclear weapons program. But
most of the press keeps missing the behind or who
actually benefits from the tax cuts or what kind of
drug coverage the administration's Medicare amendments
will really provide or how the Bush Clear Skies Act
actually degrades clean-air standards, the press has
given the administration an astonishingly free ride.

The back story of the politicization of intelligence
has been hidden in plain view for months. Last fall,
investigative reporter Robert Dreyfuss, writing in The
American Prospect, where I am co-editor, exposed the
efforts by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to take
control of intelligence summaries from the CIA. In
March, The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh exposed the
forgery of the report, now belatedly in the headlines,
that Saddam was trying to buy uranium from Niger.

John Judis, in The New Republic, a magazine that
supported the war, pieced together other efforts to
politicize intelligence to justify the Iraq war. The
New Yorker has also exposed how George Tenet, a
Clinton appointee, has compromised his mission in his
fawning efforts to ingratiate himself with Bush and
the Pentagon.

So last week when Tenet agreed to take the fall for
Bush's use of a long-discredited intelligence report,
the maneuver stank to high heaven. But the press
initially played the story with a straight face. On
Friday, Bush declared that his speech ''was cleared by
the intelligence services.'' Tenet, in a minuet that
was obviously rehearsed and orchestrated, then issued
a statement taking responsibility and expressing
regret. Then, on Saturday, the president magnanimously
expressed his full confidence in Tenet.

An innocent reader might have been forgiven for
concluding that this ''error'' was the CIA's lapse. In
fact, the CIA was well aware that the Niger uranium
story had been fabricated. The reference to the report
in the Bush speech was the work of the war hawks at
the Pentagon and the White House, not the CIA. Indeed,
intelligence experts were so upset about this
reference that the text was the subject of word by
word negotiation. In the end, Bush's actual text,
disingenuously, attributed the report to British

The New York Times, recently buffeted by a news
fabrication scandal and a management shake-up, has
been particularly cautious about reporting the larger
story of the politicization of intelligence and the
role of Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld. That task has fallen mainly to Times

Columnist Nicholas Kristof has advanced the story more
than the Times news staff. The inimitable Maureen Dowd
declared, ''The president and Condi Rice can shuffle
the shells and blame George Tenet, but it smells of
mendacity.'' Mendacity is a polite synonym for lying.
Even Bush's toughest critics find it hard to print the
words, ''Bush lies.'' But that's the larger story.

The op-ed pages are intended for the expression of
opinion. But in the Bush era, much of the reporting
and analysis that should be Page 1 news are treated as
if they were mere opinion.

Normally the press is not reluctant to challenge the
lies of a president. The press hardly shrank from this
challenge in the Vietnam and Watergate eras. And much
of the press, overzealously, made a crusade of the
Whitewater real estate affair, virtually all of which
turned out to be a phony. Poor Al Gore got toasted for
minor exaggerations.

But Bush gets a free pass time after time. The press
holds back partly because of America's vulnerability
to terrorism, which Bush's handlers exploit
shamelessly. The administration is also very effective
at pressuring and isolating reporters who criticize
Bush, so working reporters bend over backwards to play
fair. And the administration benefits from a
stage-managed right-wing media machine that has no
counterpart on the liberal left.

The press has even stopped making a fuss over the fact
that this president has all but stopped holding press
conferences. In his Africa trip, Bush intervened to
limit questions, even as his African presidential
hosts were indicating that press questions were

Investigations of administration deceptions about how
many jobs the tax cuts will create or the actual
effects on children of high-stakes testing combined
with funding cuts or the saga of how the Pentagon
tried to take over the CIA - these are not opinions.
They are what journalism is all about.

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect.
His column appears regularly in the Globe.

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

Posted by richard at July 17, 2003 11:48 AM