Thursday, April 06, 2006

The sad state of our media
Brock, Franken, Clift and Helen Thomas explain


Holding court at the Jack Morton Auditorium at George Washington University yesterday was a most distinguished panel comprising David Brock, Al Franken, Eleanor Clift and the uncontested doyenne of the Washington press corps, the indefatigable Helen Thomas.

Sponsored by Media Matters for America, the panel's focus was the Great Media Problem -- the ascendence of a disingenuous right-wing media and the cowering of mainstream media before the right's perceived might. Brock, once a self-described hit-man on the staff of the American Spectator, has made it his mission to expose the disinformation disseminated by the right, and he delivered an informative treatise on the means and measures by which the right does its dirty deeds.

Eleanor Clift is one of few out liberals who has survived as such in the mainstream media, and she has found her rarified place not always appreciated by self-professed progressives. Recently, Clift penned a column for her employer, Newsweek, in which she criticized Sen. Russell Feingold for his attempt to gather votes for a formal censure of President Bush for the president's Bill of Rights-busting domestic spy program. Clift revealed that she received a raft of hateful e-mail from Feingold-boosters.

While she disagrees with Clift's assessment that a censure resolution would amount to bad political strategy for the Democrats, your blogstress finds it appalling that so-called progressives would deploy against one of their own one of the most contemptible tactics of righties. Clift also discussed a column she wrote on the lies promulgated by the Bush administration in its quest for national support for an invasion of Iraq. That one brought her mail of a similar quality from Bush-boosters.

Helen Thomas, who was recently relaunched into public consciousness at a presidential press conference, repeatedly addressed the repeated lies advanced by Bush and his minions regarding the war. Having covered every president since Kennedy, Thomas unabashedly announced that the current administration is the most secretive and dishonest of any she had ever covered -- including Richard Nixon, who resigned amid a scandal surrounding his campaign's espionage of, and dirty tricks (read "lies") executed against, his Democratic rivals. Thomas also excoriated the press corps for "playing along" with Bush in the wake of 9/11. The press corps, said Thomas, "is beginning to wake up, but it's a little late in the game."

Al Franken used the occasion to illustrated the difference between himself and Rush Limbaugh, to whom he is occasionally compared. When he cites employment statistics, Franken explained, his researchers go to a source "known as the Bureau of Labor Statistics." When Limbaugh needs a statistic -- such has his false claim that 75 percent of people earning the minimum wage are teenagers -- Limbaugh goes, according to Franken, to the "Bureau of Rush's Butt."


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