For ignoring the travesties of the Bush era, the corporate press wins the Media Putz award
Originally published on MediaPutz.com on January 22, 2009
The corporate press
We had an end of an era this past week: watching George W. Bush go into the helicopter and fly away from the multiple levels of damage inflicted upon this country.
Bush had a lot of help in causing that damage: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz et al. But we would be remiss if we didn’t leave out a culpable, valuable part of this mess: the corporate press corps.
Don’t be modest. You had your hands in molding and shaping the impact that George W. Bush had on this country. After eight years of using every resource imaginable — whether factual or not — to make Bill Clinton’s presidency as miserable as possible, suddenly you got soft, laid-back, like a veteran protestor who knows to go limp when confronted by the police.
Then there was the way you let Bush off the hook for not preventing the September 11 attacks. Heck, you didn’t even point out how he dragged his feet on putting together the 9/11 Commission, and then watched as he ignored their recommendations.
Oh, and how you didn’t even criticize him for not caring about going after the guy who masterminded the attacks, Osama bin Laden, remember him?
So when Bush et al went after compiling reasons for going to war in Iraq that had no basis in reality, where was the diligent corporate press corps? They were changing into their cheerleading outfits, ready to Fight, Fight, Fight.
All those muscles you used to pick and claw at Clinton’s deeds and non-deeds have atrophied over the last eight years. Didn’t matter whether there was anything to the charges, if they involved Bill Clinton, the claws were out.
But Bush scandal after Bush scandal came flying by: destruction of the Fourth Amendment, horrible economic downturns, misguided war, inaccurate science, unnecessary death and destruction. And yet the corporate media couldn’t lift a finger in objection.
Oh, but there was Katrina. Yes, like Rip Van Winkle waking up from a multiple-year nap, the corporate media beat its chests proud over objecting to how things were handled in Katrina. Though to be fair, Katrina had two things going for it: 1) easy to describe on television, and 2) something tangible. People stranded on a rooftop or in a domed stadium is tangible; destruction of the Fourth Amendment is hard to show on the 6 o’clock news.
And even then, Bush never really got his due for his lack of leadership on multiple levels.
But what made the relationship between George W. Bush and the press fascinating was that Bush was rude and condescending to the press. The Adam Clymer story happened before the 2000 election. Yet, the press reacted meekly at every major turn. By contrast, Clinton was nice to the press, yet he remains the only president in recent times without a honeymoon from the press.
Then there was the strange turns where the Bush Administration gave money to get their words placed in the press (e.g., Armstrong Williams) and slipped in fake reporters known more for being a gay escort (e.g., Jeff Gannon).
Of all places, one of the best analysis of the press relationship with George W. Bush was on the Colbert Report, including an interview with then-NBC White House correspondent David Gregory. Then again, you wouldn’t expect a straightforward analysis in the corporate media.
Now that we have a new president in charge, we do expect the corporate press to suddenly become diligent. They will work hard, not because as Gregory noted to Colbert that “we will try to learn from the experience of the last eight years,” but because a Democrat is in charge and Bush is back in Texas.
So for not doing your job for the last eight years much to the detriment of your profession and this country, we gladly grant you the Media Putz of the week.