For all of their gasbaggery about the virtue and necessity of the Fourth Estate, the glittering mainstream media elite (big names, big money, very little gumshoe) is simply allergic to breaking news, and intelligently reporting about anything that implicates the power structure beyond the isolated criminal doings of one man or woman, i.e, senators and congressmen who terrorize airport bathrooms and congressional pages, or cheesy Midwest governors with small mind/big hair complexes. Those stories are safe, and therefore deserve the exhaustion of every pitiful analysis and resource.
But when it comes to serious stuff — preemptive war, torture, spying on Americans without warrant, the upending of the U.S constitution — these mainstream mavens (who are ever-so-fond of waxing nostalgic about their weaning during the Woodward & Bernstein glory years of the 70’s)Â quickly “close ranks” and reframe the context of these stories to ensure the teeniest impact possible on the status quo. This typically means protecting their establishment friends in government, not rattling the corporate sponsors, and skittering offÂ to perceivably more ratings-grabbing news, like what really happened to Anna Nicole Smith, and what are the ladies on The View dishing about today? This is all done of course, in that gratingly condescending way (think and picture Chris Matthews)Â that has all the subtle effect of nails filing down on a chalkboard.
The worst is when they completely ignore stories that put their “profession” in the most garish of lights, those little slivers of truth that peek out from time to time thanks to real reporters in the business. David Barstow won a Pulitzer Prize this week for his expose on the media using generals planted by the Pentagon to sell the war , but I bet most Americans haven’t heard of “message force multipliers” and wouldn’t know why they should care, since the story never made it to the nightly news.
As for the current torture scandal, of which we have hardly heard the full extent, Glenn Greenwald has an excellent analysis on his site today regarding the corporate media’s complicity in playing down the story throughout the Bush years and its ongoing attempts to frame it in the most self-serving way possible. A taste:
For years, media stars ignored the fact that our Government was chronically breaking the law and systematically torturing detainees (look at this extremely detailed exposÃ© by The WashingtonÂ Post‘s Dana Priest andÂ Barton Gellman from December, 2002 to get a sense for how much we’ve known about all of this and for how long we’ve known it).Â Â Now that the sheer criminality of this conduct, really for the first time, has exploded into mainstream political debates as a result of the OLC memos, media stars are forced to address it. Â Exactly as one would expect, they are closing ranks, demanding (as always) that their big powerful political-official-friends and their elite institutions not be subject to the dirty instruments that are meant only for the masses — things like the rule of law, investigations, prosecutions, and accountability when they abuse their power.
Read more here.