Read the stories that TV news networks forget to report!
WALLOWING IN THE MEDIA MUDFEST
Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable: John Kenneth Galbraith
WHAT THEY DID
There was never any doubt about the way the 2004 election campaign would be conducted; it promised to be the most vicious in recent history. Politics is a dirty business, to be sure, but this election was not going to be about dirt, - it was going to be about sleaze. We knew that both sides would be furiously on the attack as November closed in. Hey, thatís politics.
The advantage, for sure, was with the GOP who had mastered the art of personal destruction in earlier campaigns against Mike Dukakis, John McCain and Max Cleland. So, many of us were waiting for the first shoe to drop, - for the first ugly, distorted personal attack to be launched against John Kerry by the Karl Rove mud machine. And when it came, it came in spades. Hey, thatís politics.
The Rover Boys, disguised as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, launched their lies about John Kerryís military service in a handful of cities around the country. They didnít have the funding to show their ad nationally, or repeatedly. They didnít have to.
They had the corporate media on hand to do the job for them.
From the moment the ad appeared, it was aired over and over and over, day after day, on every major and minor news network, and headlined in every newspaper in the nation. And from the moment the ad appeared, John OíNeill, founder of the SBV group, was a respected guest on every major network on national television.
Itís an old tactic: throw as much mud against the wall as possible, and see how much sticks. Repeat the BIG LIE over and over and over, - and it will take on a life of its own. Hey, as we said, thatís politics. Itís the way itís done when the campaign gets close, and when ethics are discarded by those who would win at any cost. But mud slinging should never, ever be the tool of journalists, nor an acceptable policy of the news media. It never should be, but it was.
WHAT THEY DIDNíT DO
The same TV news media that engaged in the Kerry mudfest had refused, for more than three years, to report the documented absence of George Bush from National Guard duty.
The same TV news media that gave OíNeill prime air time to defile John Kerry, never gave MoveOn an equal opportunity to support its counter ad about the Presidentís questionable service record.
They ignored the connections between the SBV group and the Bush family and Karl Rove that were clearly defined and mapped out by the NY Times.
They did not explain, with each showing of the Kerry testimony before Congress, that he was recounting the testimony of nearly 200 other Vietnam vets.
They did not inform the public about the LA Times Pulitzer articles that corroborated Kerryís testimony about American atrocities in Vietnam.
They did not report that John OíNeill was a Republican flunky for over 30 years.
They did not cite Chuck Colsun, of Watergate ignominy, - who explained that Richard Nixon helped organize the SBV group to counter the anti war testimony of John Kerry in 1971.
They did not let up for a minute, making certain that the story remained at the top of the news, and that Kerryís service in Vietnam was reduced to implications of self-inflicted wounds and fabrications.
WHAT WAS IGNORED
Important things were happening in the world during this mudfest. But the news media had little else to report aside from the anti Kerry accusations and the lurid details of the Scott Peterson Ė Amber Frey conversations. Here are a dozen stories that were under-reported or totally ignored over this past weekend, as Kerry-mud was slung day after day. Here is some of what the public missed, as the Swift Boat Veterans took precedence over all else, everywhere:
Six American soldiers died within a 24 hour period in Iraq.
Nearly 100 prominent Muslims called on followers around the world to support resistance to American forces in Iraq and the government installed in June.
The secretary-general of al-Irshad and al-Fatwa Association in Iraq accused world media of colluding with US-led occupation forces in imposing a media blackout on Iraqi resistance operations.
The coach of the Iraqi Olympic Soccer team spoke out against the occupation of his country, and harshly criticized George Bush for using Iraq and Afghanistan in his election ads.
July job figures showed a drop in payroll jobs in 22 states.
George Bush refused to extend the ban on assault weapons, which will expire next month.
The three companies that certify the nation's voting technologies operated in secrecy, and refused to discuss flaws in the ATM-like machines to be used by nearly one in three voters in November.
At least $8.8 billion in Iraqi funds that was given to Iraqi ministries by the former U.S.-led authority there cannot be accounted for, according to a draft U.S. audit.
Pollution threatens life in southern Iraq - Puddles of sewage water, piles of garbage and contaminated water channels are seen all over the southern cities of Iraq.
The US was accused by Palestinian leaders of destroying hopes for peace in the Middle East by giving its covert support to Israel's expansion of controversial settlements in the West Bank.
American military doctors have been accused of condoning the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
A U.N. human rights expert criticized U.S. military authorities in Afghanistan for barring him from visiting detention centers, and he described one Kabul prison he did visit as "inhuman."
WHAT MUST BE DONE
How many of these stories were reported by the news networks? The events ignored over the past few days made room for the mud slinging that passed for journalism. The under-reporting and the outright omission of important news have characterized the policy of the American corporate media throughout the entire Bush administration. But this unprecedented mudfest defies rationalization, and goes way over the line.
There are two months to go before elections. Thatís not much time to effect a change, but the alternative is unacceptable. This cannot be the pattern for the remainder of this campaign. We simply cannot stand by and do nothing.
The media have to be challenged by the viewers who sustain them to end their collusion with the Bush administration, and to stop the type of mudfest that we witnessed this week. That has to be the message in YOUR call, YOUR letter, or YOUR email. Believe it our not, numbers count. If enough people demand change, there is a possibility, however slight, that this will not happen when the next shoe drops.
Be sure that Karl Rove has a plan. Be sure that more vicious attacks will be the order of the day. John Kerry and John Edwards will be the targets of far more distorted ads and far more scurrilous rumors and accusations than the one weíve just seen. Thatís sleaze, thatís dirt, but it is also politics.
The media, however, may not, under any circumstances, join the fray. They may not relay the mud slung by the campaign strategists of any political party and pass it off as news. They may not engage in their own ratings-driven mudfest with impunity. They may not, but they will, - unless we do something to stop them.
Call your networks. Write them. Email them. Do it today. The power still belongs to the people, and we either use it or lose it. And understand that we are very, very close to losing it.