Thursday, August 19, 2004

WaPo executive editor Len Downie bullshits NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Highlights at 11.

Given the ever-increasing self-flagellation of the mainstream media these days over their (how shall we put this delicately?) total abdication of basic journalistic principles and sucking up to the Bush administration 24/7, it's amusing to read this transcript of NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, where host Terence Smith lets media critic Micheal Massing (a.k.a. "The Skeptic") and WaPo executive editor Leonard Downie (a.k.a. "The Spineless Weasel") go at it.

You can, of course, read the whole transcript for yourself to see how gutless and evasive Downie really is, but there were two points that jumped off the page for me.

First, we have Downie:

"I don't think it was because we were overly trusting of the administration. I think it was because we were focused on the question of is there going to be a war? How is it going to be fought; is there a plan for the occupation afterwards? If you look at our stories, a lot of our coverage was focused on that."

Hmmm ... so Downie's position is that things were pretty busy, you know, with all that head-scratching of important issues including, specifically, an exit plan. Good excuse, I guess, except for one small problem: there was no exit plan. The Bush administration did not, at any time, have anything resembling an exit plan. Not then, and not now. As anyone with a functioning brain stem has already realized, right now, the Bushistas are flailing around, pretty much shooting and bombing things at random in Iraq, trying to figure out how the hell to get out of this mess. And that's because (have I mentioned this already?) they had no exit plan. So it's pretty hard to buy into Downie's fiction that "a lot of our coverage was focused on that" when the "that" part of it didn't even exist. Ergo, it shouldn't have taken a lot of time to write about it.

But it gets better when Downie gets just a wee bit defensive, after Massing suggests that the Bush cabal got a free ride because the media were just plain scared to take them on. For Downie, them's fighting words:

Downie: The part of his critique I disagree with is that we were somehow kowtowing or fearful of criticism of the right or fearful of a popular president.

An amusing position, since other journalists made no bones about the fact that that was exactly the problem, such as the NY Times' utterly worthless Elisabeth Bumiller, who probably really regrets having said this earlier this year:

New York Times White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller recently admitted how intimidated the media became after September 11, explaining they became “very deferential” and reporters were loathe to challenge the President to his face because “it’s live, it’s very intense, it’s frightening to stand up there.”

Oopsie. That's got to be embarrassing, Len, don't you think:

Downie: We weren't scared.

Bumiller: Oh, yes, we were. You damn betcha.

Is the Internet and Google search great or what?

Coming soon: Right-wing hack Tucker Carlson, and ogling hot chicks in bars. Promise.

No comments: