In between their almost wall to wall coverage over the weekend of 9-11 ceremonies and specials recounting what happened during the attack ten years ago, Fox "News" still managed to take some time out to treat us to their excuse for a media "watchdog" show, Fox News Watch. And the panel members on there all seemed to be terribly upset that the much of the media seemed to lose their good will towards George W. Bush once we invaded Iraq, or they did in their revisionist version of what happened.
Jim Pinkerton actually makes the claim that there wasn't any sort of unity in the media as soon as the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq and that the notion of rallying around the flag ended once that invasion started. I guess Pinkerton wasn't watching too much of either his network or any of the others when we first decided to go in there, because I don't recall too many pundits daring to be critical of what we did or speaking out against the invasion that could be considered members of the “mainstream media” other than maybe Phil Donahue, and he got fired for it.
And how tragic is it that someone like Judith Miller who played stenographer to help sell the invasion of Iraq while she worked for the New York Times is allowed a seat at the table anywhere to talk about the media coverage of 9-11 today?
For a reminder of the details on that, go read James Moore's article on Miller from back in 2005 at the Huffington Post -- That Awful Power: How Judy Miller Screwed Us All:
Okay. I couldn't stand it any longer. When I saw the quote today from a New York Times spokesperson about Judy Miller, I blew coffee through my nose. "Judy is an intrepid, principled, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has provided our readers with thorough and comprehensive reporting throughout her career." I am submitting the lengthy piece below to prove precisely otherwise. I don't care how many awards Judy Miller has, she is a miserable failure who has irreparably harmed her country with bad journalism and by allowing her own personal beliefs to infect her reportage. Below is but one example. This is an edited excerpt from a book I wrote, which no one ever read, called "Bush's War for Re-election." And I am not trying to sell a damn book. I don't care if anyone ever buys it. But I do want people to know what this woman did. Read on...
Full transcript below the fold.
SCOTT: Images from 10 years ago. Pictures of destruction and terror, chaos in the streets, forever engrained in the minds of the millions around the world who watched the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of United flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
These images were beamed straight into the homes of viewers all over the world. A lot of images that we wish, in hindsight, we hadn't sent in, but there they were. How did news coverage change that day?
MILLER: Well, there's been a huge debate about how news coverage has changed and whether it has changed. I think there are two memes, to use a Jim Pinkerton word --
-- that have emerged out of this. There's a main stream to the right of center line that says America is resilient. We recovered. These were horrible images. This was a terrible period but we are back. We fought terror. Then there's a left of center memes that says, this was a moment that unhinged America from its policies and its core that led us into one disastrous war in Iraq and another. We are weaker as a result. Those are two competing narratives --
SCOTT: Let's find out what Jim Pinkerton thinks of those memes.
THOMAS: You stole his one big word.
PINKERTON: I've got to think of another.
I mean, I think, you know, the Media Research Center did a terrific study comparing the coverage of the war on terror under President Bush and the war on terror under President Obama. And they made the point that Guantanamo was a big deal under Bush and not a big deal under Obama. And a lot of the coverage that Judy is describing, quite ably, reflects the opinions of two presidents, basically in the main stream media, one good and one bad.
SCOTT: I wonder about the overall affect on newspapers. I mean, newspapers had photos the next day but even, by then, it seemed a little bit out of date. You're a columnist now on a web site. Is it reflective of what is going on in this transformation of the media biz?
POWERS: Now that the writing has become like television this nonstop news cycle where, yes, the minute something happens, it is up. There's no more of this, oh, we will wait to file in a couple of days or even tomorrow. The minute something happens, it's how fast can you get it up on the web site. You are now competing really with television.
SCOTT: What about the blame game, Cal. How quickly did that start in the days after 9/11?
THOMAS: Well, there were several types of blame games, going back to something Judy said, about people lined up on the left and right after the initial unity in the country. Cab drivers in New York were not honking.
The civility was breaking up. Total strangers were talking to each other in the street. I was here at the time and it was an amazing thing to behold. You thought you were in another place.
One of the interesting controversies that came out of that, you remember, was the American flag lapel pin on the lapels of anchors. ABC took a lot of heat from conservatives. They said they were continuing a long-standing policy of not having lapel pins. We don't have to prove our patriotism. But a lot of conservative individuals and groups dumped on ABC because, if you were not wearing a lapel pin that showed American flag after 9/11, you were somehow un-American.
PINKERTON: Right. Allen Wolf (ph), who is a thoughtful observer, sociologist, academic, made the point that this period of unity lasted -- he was exaggerating -- three and half minutes.
But what his point was, is the deep trends of Balkanization, the bifurcation of media that Judy described, or if you want to say the thousand variations of the media that we have now, those overcame, in terms of their centrifugal outward force, the notion of pulling together and rallying around the flag. It didn't take long. Probably lasted between 9/11 and the beginning of the Iraq war, which was March '03.
SCOTT: But one of the great strengths of this country is that so many voices are able to compete for the national discourse.
MILLER: Right. And now you can see it in a flood of commemorations. Look at what is going on in the media this week. Is there a station or newspaper that doesn't have a 9/11 reflection, remembrance. It's astonishing and there you can see the amount of information. I wonder if it is not just overwhelming for people.
THOMAS: Yes. "Variety," the showbiz publication, counted over 40 television specials. This is not coverage within news program or local news. This is 40 network television specials in the U.S. alone, more overseas. And it tends to crowd out other things. "New York" magazine has the big 9/11 piece this week with a forward essay by Frank Rich, and a point he makes in there is very good. 9/11, as important as it was, and as much as it influenced so many things, including media coverage, crowded out a lot of other stories that were worthy of more coverage, like the -- as he points out, the looting of America by Wall Street and some in the government, Fannie and Freddie. That deserved more coverage.
SCOTT: We have to take a break.