'Weiner Pix' Story Exposes A Larger Media Narrative

I'm not going to write much more on this topic. Yes, I was lied to also by Weiner when he made his denials, and I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and we know how that turned out. There are many questions being asked and that's expected, but
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I'm not going to write much more on this topic. Yes, I was lied to also by Weiner when he made his denials, and I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and we know how that turned out. There are many questions being asked and that's expected, but saying that, I was glad to see that CNN's Reliable Sources did not vindicate Breitbart's overall track record of bad behavior, simply because it was proven that Anthony Weiner did do many embarrassing and creepy things.

The panel members as well as Howard Kurtz made some good points about the media's role in all of this. Jane Hall explained that conservatives who say they hate the MSM, don't need them to peddle their stories because the media transmits them anyway:

Hall: Yes. You know, someone asked me if I thought this showed dissatisfaction with the mainstream media, that the person went to Breitbart. I said it showed absolutely how the mainstream media worked, which is you give it to Breitbart, Breitbart puts it out, it's all over the place, and the media follow.

If the media were acting responsibly, they would have investigated the allegations instead of waiting for Weiner to hold a presser so they can simply yell questions at him. I'm not writing this because it's a Democratic politician caught up in this one, I've talked about this issue many times before. I know that's part of every scandal, but really, can we have some investigating too? Every network has reporters, staffs and resources to actually practice journalism, but they choose not to much of the time until the feeding frenzy dies down. If the media were as focused on Anthony Weiner as they were on the allegations that led us into the Iraq war by the Bush administration that resulted in thousands and thousands of deaths, the public and the politicians would not have given Bush a free hand in starting that unjust war.

The Scooter Libby trial also highlighted the corrupt nature between Beltway press figures, the people they cover, and the access they are given via D.C. cocktail parties.

This delicious morsel about the "Meet the Press" host and the vice president was part of the extensive dish Cathie Martin served up yesterday when the former Cheney communications director took the stand in the perjury trial of former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Flashed on the courtroom computer screens were her notes from 2004 about how Cheney could respond to allegations that the Bush administration had played fast and loose with evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Option 1: "MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under "pro," she wrote: "control message."

"I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used," Martin testified. "It's our best format."

How embarrassing. I posted this Gloria Borger exchange when she caught Cheney in a lie using Meet The Press for his warmongering in a post: (The incredible C&L video archives comes through again. Via a post from 02/08/07 The Guide: How Dick Cheney uses "Meet the Press" to control the message )

In ‘01, Cheney said this on MTP:

CHENEY: It‘s been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April.

on 6/19/04 CNBC, he said:

GLORIA BORGER, TV SHOW HOST: You have said in the past that it was, quote, “pretty well confirmed.”

CHENEY: No, I never said that. BORGER: OK.

CHENEY: I never said that. BORGER: I think that is…

CHENEY: Absolutely not.

Dan Froomkin also wrote many great articles based on the trial and added this whopper:

When then-vice presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby called Russert on July 10, 2003, to complain that his name was being unfairly bandied about by MSNBC host Chris Matthews, Russert apparently asked him nothing.

And get this: According to Russert's testimony yesterday at Libby's trial, when any senior government official calls him, they are presumptively off the record.

That's not reporting, that's enabling.

There are so many stories I could use to illustrate my point. Not all of journalism is bad of course, but you know the score. That's how Matt Drudge has ruled the world of MSM politics for so long online according to the Villagers. He was there for conservatives to gather around before there was a FOX News. Rush Limbaugh flashes his website on his computer during his daily show and when there's something he feels juicy, he transmits it to his audience which is then picked up by FOX News. He's waning in power now that blogs burst on the scene even if he's still getting major GOP credit. he does move a lot of traffic. Drudge broke one story on the Clinton scandal and the rest is history. Ever since then the MSM viewed Drudge as the 'ruler of our world'

For the last 15 years or so -- since the early years of the Clinton administration -- our public political discourse has been centrally driven by an ever-growing network of scandal-mongers and filth-peddling purveyors of baseless, petty innuendo churned out by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, various right-wing operatives and, more recently, the right-wing press led by Fox News. Every issue of significance is either shaped and wildly distorted by that process, or the public is distracted from important issues by contrived and unbelievably vapid, petty scandals. Our political discourse has long been infected by this potent toxin, one which has grown in strength and degraded most of our political and media institutions.

For anyone who thinks that that is overstated, the definitive refutation is provided by ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin and The Washington Post's former National Politics Editor John Harris, who provided this description in their recent book about how their national media world operates:

Matt Drudge is the gatekeeper... he is the Walter Cronkite of his era.

In the fragmented, remote-control, click-on-this, did you hear? political media world in which we live, revered Uncle Walter has been replaced by odd nephew Matt. . . .

Matt Drudge rules our world . . . With the exception of the Associated Press, there is no outlet other than the Drudge Report whose dispatches instantly can command the attention and energies of the most established newspapers and television newscasts.

So many media elites check the Drudge Report consistently that a reporter is aware his bosses, his competitors, his sources, his friends on Wall Street, lobbyists, White House officials, congressional aides, cousins, and everyone who is anyone has seen it, too.

This is why our political process has been so broken and corrupt. The worst elements of what has become the pro-Bush right wing have been shaping and driving how national journalists view events, the stories they cover, and the narratives they disseminate.

Breitbart worked on The Drudge Report for many years and got his start there. Smearing the left has always been Drudge's MO and Breitbart is just an extension of that except he's taking it a step further. Drudge then helped launch Breitbart's solo endeavors. Here's an article from 2005 detailing their relationship:

Drudge has shown little preference for any of the sites he links to. Until now.

Since Aug. 17, when Breitbart.com launched, Drudge has routinely posted more story links from his protege's site than any other news source. On Monday, for instance, seven of the 26 links posted on Drudgereport.com transferred readers to Breitbart.com. USAToday and the Financial Times were tied for second with two links apiece. Almost overnight, Breitbart.com went from obscurity to a site that boasted 2.64 million unique visitors in its first month of operation and 2.737 million in October, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Breitbart.com slightly outpaced older and more established news sites, such as TheStreet.com (2.736 million) and Slate (2.726 million). The flood of traffic could mean big bucks for Breitbart if he attracts advertisers, which he says he has begun to do.

I bet you wondered how Breitbart wound up on TV during Weiner's presser? He happened to be in NY for his book tour, but it was a CBS reporter that told him to take the stage on live TV.

As time still remained for the man of the hour to arrive, and “they said they couldn’t hear me,” Breitbart explained, until reporter Marcia Kramer told him to get on the stage. “I had no idea I was on television,” Breitbart explained earnestly, shutting down speculation that the moment was staged or in any way intended

.
Why is that of interest? Kramer is the same reporter who had the cops called on her after she was asked to leave Weiner's Capitol Hill Office on June 3rd. So when Howard Kurtz asked Milbank if part of the media frenzy on this story was driven by the anger from the press at Weiner which became a bit excessive.

KURTZ: Absolutely legitimate story, Dana Milbank, but how much of it has been driven by journalistic anger, exactly what Amy mentioned, which is that he lied to all these journalists at press conferences and television interviews? And is there a point where it just becomes excessive?

I think a lot of people were angry at the Congressman, but the press should have an obligation to report and investigate the news, not take revenge. Kurtz then asks if the media has lowered the bar on what's considered reportable:

Kurtz: But Jane Hall, have the media set a new standard here? I mean, where you don't have to have an affair, you don't have to have a love child, you don't have to be sleeping with someone on your payroll, but if you engage in stupid may have online -- and he now says that this was reckless behavior -- you get savaged. I mean, do we keep lowering the bar for what's reportable?

I think we agree that the bar was lowered during the Clinton years to its all time low and with tabloid news taking over cable, it's never going to come back. Digby says this about the press: We're Partying Like it's 1998, Baby

How many people in America even know about the Pentagon's Military propaganda program to push for the Iraq war?

It has now been more than ten days since the New York Times exposed the Pentagon's domestic propaganda program involving retired generals and, still, not a single major news network has even mentioned the story to their viewers, let alone responded to the numerous questions surrounding their own behavior. This steadfast blackout occurs despite the fact that the Pentagon propaganda program almost certainly violates numerous federal laws; both Democratic presidential candidates sternly denounced the Pentagon's conduct; and Congressional inquiries are already underway, all of which forced the Pentagon to announce that it suspended its program. Still, there has not been a peep from the major news networks at the center of the storm, the integrity of whose reporting on the Iraq war is directly implicated by this story. Even establishment media defender Howard Kurtz called their ongoing failure to cover this story "pathetic."

I wrote a lot about this NY Times story at the time and Howard Kurtz covered it quite extensively:

Howard Kurtz covered the Military General propaganda story that the NY Times story uncovered last Sunday morning and did a very good job with it. Colonel Ken Allard, a former military analyst for NBC, said that there certainly were conflicts of interest that these former Generals held when they went on TV as pundits selling the positive side of the Iraq war. Lawrence DiRita, the former Pentagon spokesman under Secretary Don Rumsfeld, was on to offer the "other side" of the issue.

DeRita was there to defend the program, but he looked like a hack:

KURTZ: You sent over talking points, you tracked the appearances of analysts on different news channels and networks. Fox's analyst John Garrett told me he always spoke his mind. But there was an email that he sent to the Pentagon where he said, please let me know if you have any specific points you want covered or that you would prefer to downplay.

It sounds like you were kind of manipulating these folks.

Col. Allard on the segment and admitted there was a huge conflict of interest:

Allard levied the real charges against the Generals and the Pentagon when he admitted:

KURTZ: Do you think it was a conflict of interest of some of your fellow former officers to be in that kind of a...

ALLARD: I absolutely do, because the reason why you're there is to offer the public, for whatever the reason you have, however good you are, whatever your opinion matters, is an honest opinion. You offer that without any hope of remuneration, without any hope of reward. That's basically -- the reward you're getting is what CNN, Fox or NBC News pays you to be there. That's it.

KURTZ: Fox analyst Tim Eads was quoting as saying that when he talked about the war or terrorism on television, he held his tongue for fear that "... some four-star could call up and say, 'Kill that contract.'" He was involved in military contracts.

So here we are now. Anthony Weiner plans to go to rehab while calls for his resignation ring out. I find it interesting that the polls have broken in his favor for the time being even after Breitbart accidentally (cough, cough) leaked a picture that he said he would never do. The sad fact is the obsession of the tabloid news from the press and cable is depriving the nation of real news that's important to the us all and that's hurting the country.

About John Amato

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