I'm deeply saddened by the state of this country, and tonight's debate is only an extension, a symptom, of that sadness. We are a better people, a stronger people, a smarter people, than is reflected to the nation and the world by our media.
I was the one who started a little campaign to get Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos to address the astonishing revelation that the President approved and authorized secret sessions inside the White House where principals from the Vice President on down directed specific torture techniques on specific detainees. Digby and myself and many others in the progressive blogosphere were outraged that this absolutely shocking statement, an almost dismissive one from the President, was met with almost complete radio silence from the traditional media.
So I figured that, since ABC actually broke the story, they might be interested in moving the story along by pushing it into the Presidential arena. And I asked good informed people who love their country to contact ABC so that we can discredit the idea of America torturing other human beings, in violation of domestic and international law, in ways that have been prosecuted by American courts in the past, which scar our nation, provide a recruiting tool for terrorists and yield bad intelligence.
You know, I thought it might have been something to get to.
But it wasn't. As you have seen. The bread and circuses that has characterized the media for over a decade continues apace. Instead of reporting out its story, we heard about lapel pins, and sniper fire, and members of the Weather Underground from 40 years ago. And this is why we have 47 million Americans without health care, and an occupation in Iraq for which these media shills are partially responsible, and finally, a country stained with the sin of torture.
And the only response I have is one of shame. That we have to listen to a Presidential candidate forced to say "I revere the American flag" or answer for the patriotism of random people is actually deeply offensive to me as a sentient being. That the right has so hijacked the discourse that all we hear from moderators in a public forum is a collection of oppo research is even more offensive.
And the worst part is that ABC News obviously has the capacity for good journalism. They considered it worthy enough to follow a story about torture discussions inside the White House, tracked down all the principals, got most everyone on the record about it, and yielded an admission from the President of the United States that he authorized waterboarding. They deemed it important enough to put it on their nightly news program, alone among the entire media. So if this is the output we can expect from them in a high-profile debate, there really is no hope. How can we expect accountability on torture - freakin' torture - if the well-informed citizenry has no knowledge to draw from.
I would gladly trade this media for any other media from any other country in the world. They can even broadcast in their native language without translation and it would have more value than this swill.
I know that traditional media is essentially a relic and that the information explosion of the blogosphere is revolutionizing media. But I have little but depression and sadness in my heart tonight. Corporations are not likely to dissolve in my lifetime. Corporate media is not likely to lose its prominence. We're big and getting bigger, and we're tuning out this narrowness of our politics in record numbers; Barack Obama was essentially standing in for all of us tonight. But that someone can be honored enough to address the next leader of the United States, can take on the responsibility of informing the public, and end up with this?
...I think the best course of action is something my fellow Pennsylvanians are prone to using: shunning. Surely we have Kossacks who live and work in Washington DC. These clowns have descended on Pennsylvania, to be sure. They should be shunned. If they approach you on the street, walk away. If you're anywhere near them, turn your back.
One good place to do this would be at the Newseum in Washington, this Sunday, when George Stephanopoulos tapes his first episode of This Week at their new home. I'm just spitballin'.