Wednesday, December 31, 2008

DAVID GREGORY: NEW ROLE MODEL FOR THE SYCOPHANTIC WASHINGTON MEDIA

Glen Greenwald, Salon - Several months before he was named as moderator of Meet the Press, David Gregory went on MSNBC to categorically reject Scott McClellan's accusations that the American media failed to scrutinize the Bush administration's pre-war claims. Gregory vigorously praised the job which he and his "journalistic" colleagues did in the run-up to the Iraq War -- the period which Salon's Gary Kamiya called "one of the greatest collapses in the history of the American media." Proclaimed Gregory, with a straight face: "Questions were asked. I think we pushed. I think we prodded. I think we challenged the President. Not only those of us in the White House Press Corps did that, but others in the media landscape did that." Most revealingly of all, Gregory said:

"I think there are a lot of critics who think that . . . . if we did not stand up and say this is bogus, and you're a liar, and why are you doing this, that we didn't do our job. I respectfully disagree. It's not our role."

Indeed. Perish the thought that a reporter should point out when government officials are making "bogus" claims and are lying a country into a war. That is "not their role," says the New Tim Russert (and, unsurprisingly, the Old Tim Russert wholeheartedly agreed). I don't know whether Gregory's public advocacy for a meek and polite press corps that would never be so rude as to point out when government leaders are lying is what sealed the deal for his new promotion to Meet the Press -- a show which centrally depends on having powerful politicians know that they can come on and, as Dick Cheney's top communications aide put it, "control the message." But I'm quite sure that it didn't hurt.

To see what Cheney aide Cathie Martin meant when she explained that Cheney knew he could go on Meet the Press and "control the message" -- and to see in action David Gregory's model of sycophantic, unchallenging "journalism" -- one could do no better than to examine Gregory's embarrassingly deferential "interview" yesterday with Israel's Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni. It's a perfect template for how our American press corps (with some rare exceptions) functions.

Whatever one's views are on Israel's attack on Gaza -- pro, con or otherwise -- there's no denying that it's an extremely controversial matter -- at least it is in the world that exists outside of mainstream American political discourse. Even within Israel, there are scathing criticisms of what the Israeli Government is doing -- on both strategic and moral grounds. Yet none of those objections made their way into David Gregory's interview of Livni. He didn't present her with a single argument against the Israeli attack. He didn't challenge a single word she uttered. He was even more sycophantic with her than the average American journalist is with the average American political leader.

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