US News Media Fails America, Again

May 14th, 2009 by Andy in Deconstructing The Media

Robert Parry, the journalist who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 80’s (remember that?), delivers an excellent analysis here on the dangerously corroded state of American journalism today and the role of the “pundit class” in helping to exacerbate that condition.

Watching Glenn Beck of Fox News rant about ‘progressive fascism’ - and muse about armed insurrection - or listening to mainstream pundits prattle on about Barack Obama as the ‘most polarizing President ever,’ it is hard to escape the conclusion that today’s U.S. news media represents a danger to the Republic. By and large, the Washington press corps continues to function within a paradigm set in the 1980s, mostly bending to the American Right, especially to its perceived power to destroy mainstream journalistic careers and to grease the way toward lucrative jobs for those who play ball.

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Again, the right-wing media and the mainstream press moved almost in lockstep. The deferential tone toward Bush could be found not just on Fox News or right-wing talk radio, but in the Washington Post and (to a lesser degree) the New York Times – and on CNN and MSNBC. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “America’s Matrix.”]

To some foreigners, the U.S. news media’s early coverage of the Iraq War had the feel of what might be expected in a totalitarian state.

“There have been times, living in America of late, when it seemed I was back in the Communist Moscow I left a dozen years ago,” wrote Rupert Cornwell in the London-based Independent. “Switch to cable TV and reporters breathlessly relay the latest wisdom from the usual unnamed ‘senior administration officials,’ keeping us on the straight and narrow. Everyone, it seems, is on-side and on-message. Just like it used to be when the hammer and sickle flew over the Kremlin.” [Independent, April 23, 2003]

Bush skeptics were essentially not tolerated in most of the U.S. news media, and journalists who dared produce critical pieces could expect severe career consequences, such as the four CBS producers fired for a segment on how Bush skipped his National Guard duty, a true story that made the mistake of using some memos that had not been fully vetted.

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