...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004
      ( 11:40 AM )
Media Intimidation

I have been asking myself for ages now why the media is so compliant and agreeable with everything coming out of the Bush white house. Why do they simply print up WH press reports instead of really reporting on their own? Why don't they confront obvious lies, misleadings and inconsistencies in the administration? Why don't they pursue scandals like leaks and political pressure and policy questions? The general consensus seems to be that if you don't go along, then they'll hurt you. Look what they did to Helen Thomas! Look what they have done to journalists, ex-administration members, intelligence officials and even members of Congress who have dared to oppose them. Everything from smearing them with false claims about their private lives, to denying them access, to risking their very lives by revealing undercover identities.

But I would like to propose this idea: if the media actually INVESTIGATED and REPORTED, it would not be so vulnerable to these attacks. By only using information generated by the great wurlitzer of GOP talking points, the media sets itself up as only a front-man for the administration. If their only sources are press releases and public statements, then they are very obligated to those sources. But if they actually broke away from that system and made their own sources, investigated new leads and were unafraid to ask hard questions, then they would be much more impervious to the administration's attacks. I would venture to guess that more people would be willing to speak out if there was some reporter willing to seek them out and report what they say.

I'd like to use the example of Christiane Amanpour. A true reporter - a courageous war correspondent and investigative journalist. She cowers before no one. Her report on 60 Minutes on Sunday was an example of just that. She was investigating an American attack on Iraqi civilians in the Sunni Triangle, which included the killing and injuring to two boys. She didn't just take the offical story and repeat it, she actually asked really tough questions and had already investigated enough to know when the answers were crap. Only a few months ago, after she'd said publicly that CNN had censored its reporters' stories on the war because it was intimidated by the administration, she was put on the administration hit list. Fox News ran several stories and days of flashy headlines declaring her a traitor and spokeswoman for Al Qaida. (No Comment on the fact that Fox News "reporter" Geraldo Rivera actually did commit treacherous acts against the military by publicly revealing their positions during the war, but that seemed to be okay with Fox).

Yet, here she is, continuing to report her hard-hitting stories. She is unafraid - she knows that the quality of her work is what keeps her working. For most of the rest of the media, they don't pay so much attention to the quality of their work as to how they are falling in line. It's a sad day that our country displays more sheep-to-the-slaughter group behavior than independent spirit in everything from news stories to voters on election day. This administration wouldn't have half the power or half the voice it does if the media would actually do its job. I don't think it's too much to ask. They don't even have to go to a war zone.

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