Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Fourth Vegetative Estate

Put a piece up this a.m. over at Corrente on Bush's War On American Soldiers. I wish all those magnet-heads traipsing around town brandishing the ribbons that say "Support Our War" could read it. Wish SOMEthing could wake them up.

Meantime, I saw this via memeorandum, at the Sulzberger Surprise:

"The editor of The Cleveland Plain Dealer said last night that the newspaper, acting on the advice of its lawyers, was withholding publication of two major investigative articles because they were based on illegally leaked documents and could lead to penalties against the paper and the jailing of reporters."
If you still have two neurons left to talk to each other after 5 years of cognitive dissonance, I don't have to tell you what this likely bodes for the future of a free press and the checks and balances provided by the Fourth Estate. Oh, well. We'll still have Watergate. No, wait! Felt was a turncoat, a snake, and dishonorable, wasn't he?

All right. I'll settle for the satire of American Psycho and a stiff drink.

UPDATE: Frank Rich, on the Op-Ed page of the NYTimes, would seem to agree with me on the Watergate business:

"WHEN John Dean published his book "Worse Than Watergate" in the spring of 2004, it seemed rank hyperbole: an election-year screed and yet another attempt by a Nixon alumnus to downgrade Watergate crimes by unearthing worse "gates" thereafter. But it's hard to be dismissive now that my colleague Judy Miller has been taken away in shackles for refusing to name the source for a story she never wrote. No reporter went to jail during Watergate. No news organization buckled like Time. No one instigated a war on phony premises. This is worse than Watergate."
I hear the sound of a million tiny synapses firing in a million tiny heads around the country. Is it starting to dawn on people exactly what this may mean? That may be too optimistic. Rich references Time's decision to roll over and play dead for the administration, and puts the nail in the coffin, here:

"Time Warner seems to have far too much money on the table in Washington to exercise absolute editorial freedom when covering the government; at this moment it's awaiting an F.C.C. review of its joint acquisition (with Comcast) of the bankrupt cable company Adelphia. "Is this a journalistic company or an entertainment company?" David Halberstam asked after the Pearlstine decision. We have the answer now. What high-level source would risk talking to Time about governmental corruption after this cave-in? What top investigative reporter would choose to work there?"
Indeed. You only have to read this statement from the editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, still languishing in a self-imposed journalistic dungeon, to get it:

""As I write this, two stories of profound importance languish in our hands," Clifton wrote. "The public would be well served to know them, but both are based on documents leaked to us by people who would face deep trouble for having leaked them. Publishing the stories would almost certainly lead to a leak investigation and the ultimate choice: talk or go to jail. Because talking isn't an option and jail is too high a price to pay, these two stories will go untold for now. How many more are out there?""
Nice work, George. When they get around to abolishing the term limits and passing Patriot Act II, you'll be set to open the camps. That is, unless reporters and their publishers start standing up for their principles and put the worth of their work and obligations as citizens ahead of their fear of jail time and loss of revenue.

What am I, crazy?

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