Bush's War on the Media
Time for another uplifting piece of news...
John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney, authors of the new book, Tragedy & Farce: How American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections and Destroy Democracy, have a piece in the Nation about Bush's war on the media. This book should be on your Christmas (holiday) list.
To be sure, every administration has tried to manipulate the nation's media system. Bill Clinton's wrongheaded support for the Telecommunications Act of 1996 cleared the way for George W. Bush's attempts to give media companies the power to create ever larger and more irresponsible monopolies. But with its unprecedented campaign to undermine and, where possible, eliminate independent journalism, the Bush Administration has demonstrated astonishing contempt for the Constitution and considerable fear of an informed public. Consider the bill of particulars:
Faking TV News. Under Bush Administration directives, at least twenty federal agencies have produced and distributed scores, perhaps hundreds, of "video news segments" out of a $254 million slush fund. These bogus and deceptive stories have been broadcast on TV stations nationwide without any acknowledgment that they were prepared by the government rather than local journalists. The segments--which trumpet Administration "successes," promote its controversial line on issues like Medicare reform and feature Americans "thanking" Bush--have been labeled "covert propaganda" by the Government Accountability Office.
Paying Off Pundits. The Administration has made under-the-table payments to at least three pundits to sing its praises, including Armstrong Williams, the conservative columnist who collected $240,000 from the Education Department and then cheered on the ill-conceived No Child Left Behind Act.
Obscuring the Iraq War. In addition to setting up a system for embedding reporters covering the war--which denied Americans a full picture of what was happening during the invasion--the Defense Department has denied access to basic information regarding the war, from accurate casualty counts to images of flag-draped coffins of US dead to the Abu Ghraib torture photos.