Thursday, May 04, 2006


'Lapdogs' book cover
Via Atrios, another book: Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush. There's a long (14,000 word) excerpt on Salon.

Let this be the final nail in the bullshit coffin of those who claim the existence of a "liberal media" anywhere but in the most fevered right-wing minds. A few of the most notable bits:
Laying out the reasons for war, Bush that night mentioned al-Qaida and the terrorist attacks of September 11 thirteen times in less than an hour, yet not a single journalist challenged the presumed connection Bush was making between al-Qaida and Iraq, despite the fact that intelligence sources had publicly questioned any such association.

...Bush never could have ordered the invasion of Iraq -- never could have sold the idea at home -- if it weren't for the help he received from the MSM, and particularly the stamp of approval he received from so-called liberal media institutions such as the Washington Post, which in February of 2003 alone, editorialized in favor of war nine times. (Between September 2002 and February 2003, the paper editorialized twenty-six times in favor of the war.)

...In September 2002 [Senator Ted Kennedy] made a passionate, provocative, and newsworthy speech raising all sorts of doubts about the war. It garnered exactly one sentence -- thirty-six words total -- of coverage from the Post, which in 2002 printed more than a thousand articles and columns, totaling perhaps 1 million words about Iraq, but only set aside thirty-six words for Kennedy's antiwar cry.

...According to figures from media analyst Andrew Tyndall, of the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC, and CBS from September 2002 until February 2003, almost all the stories could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, or the State Department. Only 34 stories, or just 8 percent, were of independent origin.

...On MSNBC, Norah O'Donnell referred to the "left-wing supporters" behind [anti-war protestor Cindy] Sheehan. Later she asked a guest if Sheehan had become "a tool of the left," while pressing another on whether it was wise for Sheehan to be associated with "antiwar extremists" camped out in Crawford. (At no point during the 2005 Schiavo story did an MSNBC anchor ever suggest the pro-life parents had become "tools of the right.")

..."You leak a story to the New York Times and the New York Times prints it, and then you go on the Sunday shows quoting the New York Times and corroborating your own information," noted CBS reporter Bob Simon. "You've got to hand it to them. That takes, as we say here in New York, chutzpah."

...On February 20, 2003, when Ashcroft personally announced the terrorist indictment of Sami Al-Arian, a former University of South Florida professor, the news conference was carried live on CNN... and the story generated a wave of excited media attention. Al-Arian's case never had anything to do with bin Laden or Saddam, but Bush's Justice Department, which indicted Al-Arian just one month before the invasion of Iraq, made sure to leave the impression that the crucial terror case would keep America safe. That night, ABC's World News Tonight led its newscast with the Al-Arian indictment. Both NBC and CBS also gave the story prominent play that evening. But fast forward to December 2005 when, in an embarrassing blow to prosecutors, Al-Arian was acquitted by a conservative Tampa, Florida, jury. Big news, right? Nope. That night, neither ABC, CBS, nor NBC led with the terror case on their evening newscasts. None of them slotted it second or third either. In fact, none of the networks reported the acquittal at all.

...Another way cable news outlets boosted Bush's War on Terror was by simply handing over huge chunks of airtime to the president for him to use however he wanted... CNN officials insisted the coverage reflected the unique war on terrorism being waged. "CNN, like all news organizations, makes decisions about its coverage based on the stories of the day. In covering a war at home and military action overseas, it is necessary to cover the administration making the decisions, regardless of political party," said a network spokesperson.

The high-minded protestations of the news channels notwithstanding, the fact was that the majority of the Bush events the cable outlets rushed to cover had nothing whatsoever to do with the war on terrorism. Viewers who regularly watched CNN in 2002 saw it break away from programming to show Bush delivering prepared, extended remarks in front of friendly, partisan crowds about faith-based charities, defense modernization, education reform and tax cuts, education, simplifying tax codes for small business, strengthening Social Security, protecting the rights of investors, welfare reform, and on and on and on.

If you want still more, note that there's another excerpt on the Amazon page.


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