Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Case Against the Press is Solid

It's no small secret the MSM has been in bed with the Bush administration. I've written here in the recent past that things could have been different, had the MSM done it's job. But here we sit under the administration of Worse Than Watergate and one of the great hero's of Watergate has fallen from his pedestal. The truth revealed early last week, that Bob Woodward "learned two years ago from a government official that Wilson was a CIA agent," is a huge "black mark for media."

Joan Vennochi writes in the Boston Globe today that, "The case against Scooter Libby is up in the air, but the case against the press is solid."

Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald indicted I. Lewis ''Scooter" Libby Jr. on criminal charges, including obstruction of justice, making a false statement and perjury in the CIA leak investigation. The press indicted itself on grounds of coziness, self-interest, and dishonesty.

While Judith 'Miller is ''Miss Run Amok,"' Bob Woodward says Vennochi is "a media bigfoot." "They both let their newspapers down, and readers, too."

In Plamegate, people see the sausage-making: journalists are part of the establishment they cover. Their ''sources" are government officials who use them to put out negative information about a political adversary. That is very different from protecting a whistleblower who is revealing secrets the public should know. And it is dramatically different from Woodward's and Carl Bernstein's role in uncovering the Watergate scandal. Then, the two dogged Post reporters worked to reveal the crimes of the Nixon administration.

In Plamegate, administration sources tried to use the press to spread the word about Valerie Plame Wilson and discredit her husband, Joseph Wilson, an administration critic. Is her identity a scoop? Or is spreading it a dirty trick?

The symbiotic relationship between press and political establishment is a fact of life. Pick up any newspaper, and it is not hard to figure out who is entangled with whom. Sometimes these relationships lead to important news. Sometimes they lead to disclosures whose sole purpose is to undercut an opponent. Readers know the difference, which could explain why fewer of them buy newspapers or trust them.

Where does Plamegate end? In a document filed in court on Friday, Fitzgerald said ''the investigation is continuing" and that it ''will involve proceedings before a different grand jury than the grand jury which returned the indictment." That isn't good news for the Bush administration, which dodged disaster when Karl Rove was not indicted along with Libby.

The media love a scandal. A Rove indictment would be entertaining and Cheney in the hot seat would burn up the blogs. But this time all those Watergate-era phrases -- from ''tip of the iceberg" and ''smoking gun" to ''what did he know and when did he know it?" -- are coming back at the press, not just the president's men.


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