As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pentagon Pundits Yield No Punditry

It's fairly embarrassing that Jon Stewart managed to beat most national news outlets in reporting recent stories about the Pentagon-aided pundits embedded in the major media. (I should note that USA Today had an op-ed on this today). Of course, this isn't the only story where there's been media silence; Helen Thomas had to pull an "at long last, have you no decency" on the White House press corps for their failure to question the executive branch about their top leaders directing and authorizing torture. Still, their refusal to investigate the pundit story is more revealing - because the media itself is culpable for this one. Here's Glenn Greenwald.

Media organizations simply ignore -- collectively blackout -- any stories that expose major corruption in their news reporting, as evidenced by the fact that no major network or cable news programs have ever meaningfully examined the fundamental failures of the media in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. As Bill Moyers noted at the beginning of his truly superb documentary on the media-government collaboration concerning the invasion: "The story of how the media bought what the White House was selling has not been told in depth on television." Thus, one of the most significant political stories of this generation -- what Moyers described as "our press largely surrender[ing] its independence and skepticism to join with our Government in marching to war" -- has simply been rendered invisible by our largest media outlets. That scandal just does not exist, particularly on television.

This is happening because of the stunning level of media consolidation that we've seen over the past several decades. In past years there would be multiple newspapers in one town, all with their own sources and their own desire to beat the competition. Now Rupert Murdoch owns the majority of the papers in New York, the sources are largely all the same, and this is even more acute on broadcast media. It's a kind of unwritten pact between them all not to report on something like this and expose the official corruption that exists. And of course, the decimation of news bureaus nationwide means that there are fewer and fewer independent analysts within the media, meaning that they must outsource their commentary to Pentagon sources like this. We've seen more and more official sources used as news, more stories that read as Administration press releases. The media is extremely sensitive to their failure during the run-up to war, and they're not likely to give their critics any other chance to question them.

All of this is to say, don't expect a big mea culpa.

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