How the Sniveling Media Paved the Road to War

Bill Moyers Journal on PBS tonight had a great program on how media groveling to Bush administration falsehoods and absurdities helped lead to the Iraq war.

The program focused on the villains and bootlickers in the press.  It also contained interviews with some of the courageous reporters – such as Warren Stroebel and Jonathan Landay of Knight Ridder – who saw through & reported the Bush administration’s frauds months before the war began.   Charles Hanley, an Associated Press reporter who went with the UN inspection teams in Iraq in late 2002 and early 2003, talked about how editors would delete his comments about how the Bush administration’s claims on WMDs were being proven wrong.   Norman Solomon, the author of War Made Easy,  made excellent comments on the institutional cowardice and groveling of the mainstream media.

Dan Rather told Moyers that in every newsroom in the country, there is fear of getting “the reputation of being a troublemaker” – thus making journalists and editors shy away from challenging the honesty of the White House.

Rather at least had the gumption to be interviewed, despite some disgraceful things he said on the air after 9/11 about kowtowing to Bush.  Almost all  the chickenhawk columnists and pundits chickened out – didn’t even have the gumption to sit down in front of  Moyers and defend themselves.

The mainstream media deserves far more infamy on this than it has yet received.   The Moyers report is a step in that direction…

If you get a chance to see the program on replay (or if it airs at a different time in other PBS markets), it is definitely worth catching.   The transcript is already online here


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47 Responses to How the Sniveling Media Paved the Road to War

  1. Orville H. Larson April 26, 2007 at 12:06 am #

    I saw “Bill Moyers Journal” last night. I hope it has a salutary effect on the American news media, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Norman Solomon commented that being a pro-war aplogist means never having to say you’re sorry. The program shows how the neocon liars/warmongers–William Safire, Tom Friedman, Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol, and others have suffered no penalties. They’re still spewing their bullshit at the New York Times, FOX News, Washington Post, whatever.

    Moyers mentioned that he asked Krauthammer, Safire, Roger Ailes, and Kristol to
    appear on the show. None of these pond scum-sucking liars did.

    Safire got the Medal of Freedom from Bush for, presumably, being a good pro-war propagandist.

    The mainstream news media. What the hell are they good for, anyway?

  2. Mace Price April 26, 2007 at 8:01 am #

    They’re good for Levitra and Lipitor commercials…As for Friedman I remember his indicative comment to a sycophantic Charlie Rose–where he seemed to enjoy the status of resident Zionist–this in the direct aftermath of the September 11 attacks. After shooting his mouth off about what he wanted, demanded, expected, knew, etc..He proclaimed to Rose, and The Country “Welcome to the front lines.” Thank you very much Tom. Now of course he’s singing another verse to his standard Israel must be defended at all costs tune. This naturally must include costs to the United States.

  3. Jim April 26, 2007 at 8:09 am #

    Thomas Friedman did excellent work when he was in Beirut in the early 1980s. I quoted him extensively in Terrorism & Tyranny (Palgrave, 2003) on the slaughter at the Palestinian refugee camps carried out by Lebanese militia (serving as Israeli proxies) that occurred in September 1982.

    But fame does not seem to have made him more realistic…

  4. Mace Price April 26, 2007 at 8:29 am #

    …I know, in fact his fame and former objectivity as a Journalist you bring to light has served to legitimize his present neo-Con Polemic. This is a most calculating and devious man; but now he and the others Mr. Larson has mentioned, are in a box. Every time I hear the term National Security Letter bandied about I think of them–An NSL letter amounts to a 21st Century version of the 18th Century French Monarchy’s Lettre de Cachet.

  5. W Baker April 26, 2007 at 8:46 am #

    …Nor does fortune make him more realistic, Jim! I suspect Friedman is one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest, “journalists” working today. But he didn’t make his money at the Times, of course. He did it the old-fashioned way, he married into a shopping mall fortune. …Not that there’s anything wrong with wealth!

    It’s just that Friedman, and his ilk, are more likely to be pontificating from some resort-based conference in the Bahamas or at the Oxbow/Cambridge races about the “troubles” in Iraq, Iran, or Palestine, etc. rather than being on the “front lines”, so to speak! (Yes, Friedman was on the ground in Lebanon years ago and won a Pulitzer, but he’s been living off that work for years.)

    Come to think of it, how many US papers or news programs have reporters in Iraq who are not ‘in bedded’ with the Pentagon or permanently sequestered in the Green Zone? Just how many Patrick Cockburn’s does the US have?

    I can’t think of any.

    Our reporting, like our foreign policy, like most everything cerebral in the US is based upon abstractions from a distance! And we’re always making fun of the France’s penchant for pointy-headed theories!!

  6. Jim April 26, 2007 at 9:48 am #


    Friedman is so rich (thanks also his book sales) – and yet he apparently cannot afford to hire a fact checker for his columns.

  7. Mace Price April 26, 2007 at 10:02 am #

    …In the world at large consensus of the Realpolitik has it that The State of Israel is not an extension of The US, but that the US is an extension of Israel. I have formerly and continue to maintain that such a reality has not only spelled the worst US Foreign Policy disaster since Vietnam, but if left unchecked, will precipitate an interminable state of war in The Middle East that will permanently involve the United States. This despite an increasingly obvious, popular reaction that this Administration; nor the one that succeeds it can no longer be allowed to squander the lives of The United States Military, the Defense Budget, and the object of National Security itself at the behest of a Foreign Power that has seized control of the American Political process thereby putting its Sovereign interests ahead of what I would term its client state; namely the US…This, is a state of affairs that can not be tolerated indefinitely.

  8. Jim April 26, 2007 at 10:34 am #

    Wes – dang, your comment made me realize that I missed the Oxbow/Cambridge races again this year.

    That’s an excellent question on Andrew Cockburn. His steadfast courage and realism shines through in part because so few other English-speaking journalists have shown that. I don’t know if there are any American equivalents – but it may be that American journalists who might have shown similar gumption could not receive the backing or consistent support of any major US media organization.

    On the question of “abstractions from a distance” — I wonder if the real problem is that contemporary American political thinking is dominated by a deduction about the benevolence and goodness of government. Many pundits & experts seem to screen out any evidence to the contrary…

  9. W Baker April 26, 2007 at 10:51 am #

    “Wes – dang, your comment made me realize that I missed the Oxbow/Cambridge races again this year.”

    Come on, JIm, you’ve gotta get your priorities straight, give up that pedestrian life of research, booze, and smoke, and start going where the real stories are!!

    Plus, you’d look so much better in a seersucker/straw hat get up….!

  10. Jim April 26, 2007 at 11:18 am #

    Wes, if I do go next year, I’ll make sure to hire you as a fashion consultant first.

    Seersucker and a straw hat?

    Would I need to prance around in white shoes as well?

  11. Original Steve April 26, 2007 at 12:06 pm #

    I am very sorry it wasnt aired locally—at least not yet.

  12. Original Steve April 26, 2007 at 12:23 pm #

    …now you boys be nice to Tom Friedman, remember he was the “useful idiot” of the left when it came to “skeer up a war.”

    I love seeing him babble out cliches like “the world is flat” in reams of paper. A solution for global warming might be to stop publishing his books.

  13. W Baker April 26, 2007 at 12:40 pm #

    Yes, Jim, white/cream suede slip-ons are a must – bespoke, of course, and don’t forget the socks. A nice yellow/blue argyle sock or something similar!!

    And you mustn’t forget the jaunty umbrella for when those intense political discussions over finger sandwiches and champagne on the lawn get interrupted by afternoon showers!

  14. Jim April 26, 2007 at 12:48 pm #

    Steve – yes, Friedman has certainly earned his Establishment laurels.

    Someone did a search recently and turned up two bucket loads of references in his columns to how “the next six months” will be the decisive time in Iraq – which he first said in late 2003 or 2004.

    I hope your PBS station runs this program – it is one of the best hits on the media I have seen.

  15. Jim April 26, 2007 at 12:51 pm #

    Wes – your fashion advice brings to memory my experience with the dress code at the Supreme Court…. as detailed in the following Washington Post report:

    The Washington Post
    March 29, 1995, Wednesday, Final Edition

    Pg. A21
    HEADLINE: Hospitality Sweet

    BYLINE: Al Kamen, Washington Post Staff Writer

    Once in Court, His Shirt Lost Its Appeal

    There was freelancer James Bovard yesterday in the front row of the press section at the Supreme Court minding his own business: on assignment from Playboy magazine to cover oral arguments in a case about whether police officers with warrants must knock before entering a home.

    About 15 minutes into the argument, a court police officer approached Bovard and told him to move to a rear alcove.

    Seems Bovard had violated a Supreme Court rule — one that veteran reporters had never seen enforced — that asks the press sitting in the first two rows of the reserved section to follow the same dress code as those in the section reserved for the bar: coats and ties, general business attire. Women are to be “comparably attired,” said court press officer Toni House, though dress slacks with matching jackets are permitted.

    It could not be learned whether the court police acted on their own or were prompted by a displeased justice.

    A miffed Bovard says it’s not like he had on a T-shirt or anything. It was a light blue, striped, “fancy business shirt” that was from “Lord & Taylor.”

    Maybe he should try Brooks Brothers.

  16. Mace Price April 26, 2007 at 12:54 pm #

    …”I,” “What I want,” “What I want to see,” “When I see that,” “I’m not satisfied,” “I want proof” are always the first words out of this little tremble chin Savant’s impudent, wet little mouth. Each declaration then punctuated with the protrusion of his lower lip; as if he’s pouting. His interviews—Particularly with his PBS Worshiper Charlie Rose—Never amount to much more than an arrogant series of misinformation, unilateral demands, pontifications and visions of what HE expects. Worse, it makes me sick the way a grinning, deferential, and fawning Charlie Rose always makes sure to kiss his ass up one way, and down the other with never as much as one objective question. Friedman may as well be an exigent little sun, gracing the buffoon that is Rose with the arrogance of his presence. In my book he’s a liar and a fraud and I’m sick of his purported status, and prowess as an objective Journalist. Because he’s no longer anything of the sort…Scott Horton’s the one that oughta interview him.

  17. Mace Price April 26, 2007 at 12:57 pm #

    …How much more of this shit do we have to endure?!?

  18. D. Saul Weiner April 26, 2007 at 1:11 pm #

    Dan Rather told Moyers that in every newsroom in the country, there is fear of “getting the reputation of being a troublemaker”

    Say no more

  19. Jim April 26, 2007 at 1:15 pm #

    My impression is that editors are far more skittish about hostile letters to the editor than they were 20 years ago.

    Back then, I knew a number of editors who seemed to enjoy articles that would get folks howling.

  20. Joe B. Carter April 26, 2007 at 11:19 pm #

    Orville Larson mentions the chickenhawks who refused to appear on Moyers’ program. He forgot to mention Friedman, who also refused.

    Mace Price asks, “How much more of this shit do we have to endure?!” Mr. Price, because of the clannish nature of Washington “pundits,” I think we’ll have to endure a lot more.

    These self-important know-it-all types like Kristol, Friedman, Safire, George F. Will, William Bennett etc. have enormous influence. They got that influence by sucking up to those in power.

  21. Travis April 27, 2007 at 1:58 am #

    Ah, Bill Moyers! Now I remember — he’s that quasi-intellectual, liberal, humanist, crypto-facist “media guy,” who reported those docu-dramas for PBS about how bad the Serbs were during the Balkan conflict.

    But, oops! He forgot to mention that the neo-con media whores who wanted the US to stomp about in Iraq were the same ones originally pitching for American intervention in the former Yugoslavia.

    So be it. A seasoned groveler, Moyers is in a unique position to share his insights into the groveling media.

    Really, his report is quite familiar — and similar to what the Democrats are doing right now; that is, pretending with great passion that they have some different postion RE Irag than does the Bush administration.

  22. Mace Price April 27, 2007 at 8:29 am #

    …I feel like I’m ramming my head into a block wall. There’s an excellent reason for these sentiments too; because that’s exactly what I’m doing.

  23. Dirk W. Sabin April 27, 2007 at 2:01 pm #

    My goodness,
    I believe it is all of our sacred duty to pool funds and buy the good Mr. Price a Hockey Helmet so that his angst-filled Head-drumming don’t bring on an unfortunate case of melancholia catatonica. His optimism, like that displayed by most of us here,is a soothing tonic desperately needed by the psycho-bruised public. Should there be any funds left, we can rent a Tux with Lightening Bolt epaulets for Bovard’s trips to the front row of the Court.

    As to Friedman, he is one of a duo of Twin Towers at the Times, looming infernos of energetic sophistry, flaming away like fireworks with much explosive noise but little real power. David Brooks is his Cliff-note Bookend. Both were once useful, both are now little more than Court Pugs.I am ashamed of myself for purchasing that depauperate rag nearly every day in order to disgust myself with their breezy cant and counterintuitive logic. Little Arty Schulzberger knows his bonafides and as long as the fearless leaders in the halls of power make sure to do everything in their powers to preserve every shred of his trust fund possible, then he’s happy to keep publishing Pravda…oh , excuse me, the Times. Sending a well-crafted dissident Letter to the Editor of that paper is as worthwhile as opening one’s window at 88th and York and screaming out hoping that one’s friend in Montello, Nevada might hear you.

    We Americans have not had a proper press for decades and the unfortunate thing about the internet is that it seems to be marginalized in a ghettoized universe where people only look at what they agree with and when they venture out into public, they remain mortally afraid of insulting anyone’s finer sensibilities. We need the cover of a comedy show to broach the real news that our government is clinically whacked and our society about as held together as a couple of late-stage barflys.

    The agora , from it’s inception has been intricately entwined with commercial interests. The difference now is that the public interchange of ideas independent of commercial actions has been replaced by commercial interests that are beholden to maintaining a kind of homogenious and gigantic conventional wisdom. Dutiful Spectators are more important than participants in this Vicarious Agora. The extreme idiocy of the ongoing charade is barely concealed and so the powers that be do everything within their means to favor a World According to Beaver Cleaver because anything else is dangerous to their comfy interests. Sure, they manufacture faux debate and report on the still regularly occurring bloodthirsty nature of the species but comprehensive debate is as dead and buried as Socrates.

    After all, journalists don’t even get together in smoky bars in the midafternoon anymore and so skepticism, tips, cantakerousness and doubts go unrecorded and largely un-pursued.

    It’s called “Sunshine Laws”. We’ve legislated full-disclosure and so damned if they don’t provide us one endless sunny day after another in a kind of Potemkin News that would make the Soviets blind with jealousy.

    The Wall came down in Berlin a long time ago but it seems to have been replaced by an Iron Curtain of the Mind here at home. Dutiful children, we mind our manners and avoid disagreement because it might be complicated and we’re so busy satisfying our jones for a complicated existence that we caint stand no more complicated debate than the consensus of the major media.

    As long as we say we’re nice and everybody will agree then we can keep on trashing the nursery.

    Have a Nice Day.

  24. Mace Price April 27, 2007 at 2:21 pm #

    …I would, but I gotta headache

  25. Bonky April 27, 2007 at 4:39 pm #

    Call it Media Religious compliance to the the Bush administration
    broadcasting 911 attack without criticism or call for a rigourous investigation is a crime…
    The bush crimes and corruption is massive yet this criminal administration is still in power
    The Anthrax attacks
    The 1st and 2nd election fraud
    911 attack
    911 attack investigation report
    WMD and the invasion
    Katrina response
    the list is too big to details

    Bill clinton was on the brink of impeachment for a stain

    Please get someone to suck this monkey’s penis to get rid of him before he causes global mayhem…..Iran

  26. W Baker April 28, 2007 at 9:26 am #

    @ Dirk Sabin:

    “After all, journalists don’t even get together in smoky bars in the midafternoon anymore and so skepticism, tips, cantakerousness and doubts go unrecorded and largely un-pursued.”

    Besides your other fine points re: the media courtiers, the above statement may and should find its way to some distant history of our times. ‘The rapid demise of an semi-inquiring, post-twentieth-century press was readily marked when liquid lunches and bottles in work desks were deemed unhealthy and morally offensive… Make-up, chic dresses and suits, and a general faux elan replaced the scruffy, teetering reporter and not for the better!’

  27. Jim April 28, 2007 at 10:28 am #

    OK, I’ll cut back on the make-up.

  28. Mace Price April 28, 2007 at 11:12 am #

    …Yeah, plus it doesn’t look like you shaved this morning either Jim. Past that have you noticed all the sudden hoopla over George Tenet’s book?–Maybe
    he can challenge “Iraq’s going to have to pay a price” Richard III Perle to a Duel. Don’t need to tell ya that Dueling used to be a big deal in Washington, even if the present day DC gun play is expedentially worse. Bottom line?
    Oligarchs 4 Spies 0

  29. Jim April 28, 2007 at 12:05 pm #

    I lost my razor a few decades ago and haven’t found the durn thing since.

    Yes, it will be fun to watch the howling and spinning on Tenet’s new book. Amazing how we never hear of some of this crap until years too late…

  30. Original Steve April 28, 2007 at 3:38 pm #

    Admit it Jim, you think Fidel is hip, so you grew the beard to look like him.

  31. Jim April 28, 2007 at 3:54 pm #

    My fashion coach urged me to DELETE that last comment, but I’ll just let the slings and arrows of outrageous whatever keep on flying.

  32. Ronin April 29, 2007 at 7:08 pm #

    We shouldn’t be surprised by these “UGLY’ people.Now act 2 is going to be their attempted escape.Hopefully, it’s not going to be easy since we have hours and hours of their respective public baying and bleating for war.

  33. Mace Price April 29, 2007 at 10:48 pm #

    God forgives, but I don’t…and yes, you’re right. “It’s not going to be easy.”

  34. Dirk W. Sabin April 30, 2007 at 10:53 am #

    Ed Abbey, the old Desert Rat Anarch and author of “the Monkey Wrench Gang”, a book that should have been made into a movie 20 years ago….once quipped “They ought to bring back dueling, it might improve things around here a bit”….or something like that.

    He also said “If the situation is hopeless, there aint nuthin to worry about”…a mantra for the times.

    As to beards and our hairsute professor, the onset of mass slavery to the razor blade is within the top 5 reasons this culture has gone straight to hell and surrendered itself to juvenality. I’m speaking here of men . Naturally, woman should be tidy if for no other reason than to regularly demonstrate what dogs we men be in comparison. It’s not that I don’t like hairy wimmen, it’s just that I don’t prefer em.

    The lasting contribution of Naploneen II, George the Gibbering I, High Genrul o de Younited States of Nyookyouler Amurika is that he has made Richard Nixon and Fidel Castro seem far less odious. Everyone has their role in this the Good Lords experiment.

  35. Mace Price April 30, 2007 at 11:13 am #

    Even if I shave once a week, or every 10 days or so if I gotta hangover; I’m still a Barbarian at heart. Barba being root Latin for beard, and hence the term Barbarian. But since them real Barbarians never shaved, and neither did my progenitors in The Appalachians and The Ozarks. I wonder then? Does this habit of shaving make me a Progressive Malcontent?…Or a Barbarian? AHHH HA HA…AHHHHHH HA HA HA!

  36. Adam S. April 30, 2007 at 11:43 am #

    Any man worth his salt will grow a beard. Besides, who wants a mustache? It looks as if a caterpillar forever lives under your nose. —-By the by, someone has posted on YouTube all of the highlights of the Bill Moyers’ “Buying the War” Special. —

  37. Mace Price April 30, 2007 at 12:08 pm #

    …Take a peek at Moyer’s nose–I’ll bet he could out drink me. Plus he’s a day late and a dollar short presenting this canned bullshit with The AIPAC Seal Of Approval on the front of it…No wonder Ol’ Bovard makes these people’s ass itch—And I aim to help keep ’em scratchin’

  38. Jim April 30, 2007 at 12:27 pm #

    An AIPAC Seal of Approval for the Moyers “Buying the War” report?

    Not a chance in Hades.

    I have not checked the AIPAC website to see if they did anything on this – but Moyers clobbered many of their favorite commentators.

  39. Dirk W. Sabin April 30, 2007 at 12:58 pm #

    And let us never forget, one of the finest amateur baseball teams of all time: “El Barbudos”. Castro and the boys looked swell in Baseball pinstripes with their revolutionary beards flapping in the trade wind breezes.

    Had we followed free-market principles in 1960 and granted el Jefe Fidel a Major League Baseball franchise, The Russians would have been sent packing back to their hockey-stick climes. Instead of winter sojourns to the shopping-mall plasticity of Cancun, we’d all be enjoying Cuban jazz and the company of those lovely Cuban ladies of Havana without having to skulk down there via Mexico or in our dreams. Having once spent a night in a Manhattan jail with a philosophic Cuban cell-mate, I can confirm with good source that Cuba is a Miscegenator’s Micegenation. Perhaps I am a barbarian but, this, in my book is what we refer to as “Idealism”. May God Bless the Ghost of Prez Prado.

  40. Mace Price April 30, 2007 at 1:03 pm #

    …Sir, my considered opinion, nothing more nor less, is that no Political entity in Washington DC moves as much as a stone without AIPAC at least having knowledge knowledge and subsequent consideration of it. That, and it remains highly probable, to my mind at least, that they would never be thoughtless enough to leave fingerprints and overt involvement on any Mainstream Propaganda designed for the express purpose of creating the illusion of objectivity…Then laugh as it is fed to the Public sentiment. As you know better than I, in terms of effecting and Administration of Policy? The US State Operates at 2 levels. The Public level i.e. Moyer’s drunken mouth; and the Private level i.e. in a Classified and Punitive Capacity that, if faces speak louder than words, appeared to have Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald very frightened at a recent Press Conference. In conclusion, it is said that Kissinger has been thinking 7 steps ahead since the age of 12…I can barely manage 4 or 5…Therefore, these are my observations and mine alone. The neo-Con Cabal may be able to pump the electorate full of shit through their present control of the Mass Media, but to me this sudden willingness to become realistic rhetorically amounts to a highly skilled subversion of discourse. Thus I will wager that this Diabolic War of Occupation in Iraq, and perhaps worse, will continue…’cause This Okie ain’t buyin’ the handjobs they dishin’ out wholesale all of a sudden.

  41. Dirk W. Sabin April 30, 2007 at 1:11 pm #

    and furthermore, perhaps this is the third party who’s time has finally come…an anarcho-capitalist bunch of baying lunatics sweetly called:

    “The Beards”.
    (“Barbarians” might not play well in the Plains States)

    A nice devilish grinning goat would do nicely as the mascot, kicking the runt mule and royalist mincing elephant out the way.
    How about it Doktor Bovard, you game…er,uhhh, idealistic enuff fer it?

    “A man whose face is as bald as his arse has nothing to distinguish his head by .”
    Vote The Beards.

  42. Mace Price April 30, 2007 at 1:26 pm #

    …Goddamnit! An’ here I jest went in and shaved mu daim face! Worse’n ‘at my head is jest bald as my ass is…Well, mebe not quite. That an y’all got to remember Moyer’s former occupation. He’s hired to lie to the Press fer Lyndon Baines Johnson.

  43. Jim April 30, 2007 at 5:00 pm #

    This blog appears to be becoming more Taliban-like every month.

  44. Dirk W. Sabin April 30, 2007 at 5:15 pm #

    At least Lyndon was a bonafide Texan and had balls. These wanking faux-Texans we got in the White House now are clueless gits who only have cajones whence compared against the de-labored, denatured Democrat milquetoasts. Bigger pansies cannot be found in history. To be offered up so much political capital on such a regular basis and still not be able to turn public opinion against the Reprobaticans is a sorry thing indeed. It fuels the myth that our Feerlest Leedur and his sordid henchmen are tough hombres instead of simply amateurs on a reverse-Midas roll.
    One does have to give them credit though. The rapidity and completeness of their destruction of the Republic is a real tribute to what the nerds ,morons, jocks and sociopaths can do if properly humored.

  45. Mace Price April 30, 2007 at 6:27 pm #

    Jim, do think Jim Baker will take W Junior to the Woodshed before all’s said and done? Or allow him to go’head and blow hell out of I-ran? You notice The Old money Brahmans are fightin’ back.

  46. Mace Price April 30, 2007 at 6:28 pm #

    Jim, do you think Jim Baker will take W Junior to the Woodshed before all’s said and done? Or allow him to go’head and blow hell out of I-ran? You notice The Old money Brahmans are fightin’ back.

  47. Jim April 30, 2007 at 7:33 pm #

    Don’t know if W Junior is willing to advice from anyone except from God.

    And maybe even that wouldn’t work.

    I am reminded of the ol’ time definition of a fanatic – ” someone who does what God would do if God knew the facts of the matter.”