Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand
April 23, 2009 7:40 AM   Subscribe

The Pulitzer (and Polk)-winning investigation (1,2) that dare not be uttered on TV. (previously)
posted by AceRock (57 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was thinking about Greenwald's column driving home from work yesterday. Corporate news delivering government propaganda is obviously a disgrace. But expecting them to report on their own malfeasance seems a bit pollyanna.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:46 AM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree with Joe, but pointing it out should continue and should be as loud as possible. Write letters, call in, etc.
posted by odinsdream at 7:49 AM on April 23, 2009


Has PBS covered this?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:53 AM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


The "Hollywood Squares" picture at the top is good, makes them look like a bunch of tools. One more piece in the puzzle how Cheney and co were able to dupe America. I hope some sort of regulation comes out of this, to disclose vested interests of talking heads on TV in the same way financial reporters are required to disclose personal investments.
posted by stbalbach at 7:55 AM on April 23, 2009


The PBS ombudsman had problems with their coverage too.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:58 AM on April 23, 2009


NewsHour had a story back in April. I'll stop now.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:03 AM on April 23, 2009


When I first heard about the warrantless wiretaps and saw the way Democrats were rolling over for the Bush administration on issue after issue, I feared that information gleaned from wiretaps, or at least the fear of that information, was a club used by BushCo to obtain cooperation. I think this story strongly supports that hypothesis, especially given the following:
"[A]s I've noted many times, Jane Harman, in the wake of the NSA scandal, became probably the most crucial defender of the Bush warrantless eavesdropping program, using her status as 'the ranking Democratic on the House intelligence committee' to repeatedly praise the NSA program as 'essential to U.S. national security' and 'both necessary and legal.' She even went on Meet the Press to defend the program along with GOP Sen. Pat Roberts and Rep. Pete Hoekstra, and she even strongly suggested that the whistleblowers who exposed the lawbreaking and perhaps even the New York Times (but not Bush officials) should be criminally investigated, saying she 'deplored the leak,' that 'it is tragic that a lot of our capability is now across the pages of the newspapers,' and that the whistleblowers were 'despicable.' And Eric Lichtblau himself described how Harman, in 2004, attempted very aggressively to convince him not to write about the NSA program."
Tin-foil hat, here I come!
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:11 AM on April 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Dear Old Media: If you hadn't sold your viewing public out, over and over again, for some nebulous "access" by getting into bed, over and over again, with these mendacious, corrupt motherfuckers, somebody outside of your little op-ed page circle-jerk there might care about the fact that your business model is a dying relic.

I don't know what's going to grow up in the space you vacate, but if we're lucky it will actually aspire to the ideals you've been mouthing for the last twenty years. The public has needed you more and more every year, and you've given them less and less, and here we are in a situation where we've never needed you more, and you can't die off fast enough.
posted by mhoye at 8:11 AM on April 23, 2009 [20 favorites]


Sorry, that was from a related Glenn Greenwald column.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:14 AM on April 23, 2009


There's a reason they aren't being uttered on TV, but changes are being made, according to Barstow, the guy who wrote the Pulitzer winning story. Basically, no one wants to admit they made mistakes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:18 AM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


maybe Noam Chomsky was onto something?
posted by crayz at 8:20 AM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Claiming that the networks "made mistakes" seems very charitable. It's quite obvious that these "mistakes" were simply business as usual, and the lack of coverage is not because they regret it, but because they want to avoid discussing it at all.
posted by odinsdream at 8:21 AM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


why would anyone say that knowledge is power?
posted by geos at 8:22 AM on April 23, 2009


On The Media coverage. And again.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 8:22 AM on April 23, 2009


TEH LIBRUL MEDIA!!!!!!1
posted by fuq at 8:24 AM on April 23, 2009


This is why I get so angry in discussions about so-called citizen journalism, when old-guard newsmen stand up and say oh christ, bloggers reporting news! They don't know the ethics of journalism! They don't know the standards of good reportage! They're just these blunderers staggering into the hallowed halls of the press with their laptops and facial hair, demanding access, and how dare they?

Your world is crumbling, old world news guy, and it's in part because of horseshit like this. Yeah, bloggers have a long way to go before they have the tools or the access of mainstream journalists. They also have a long way before they can be the running-dog apologist publicists of corporate and governmental immorality. Citizen journalists may not have managed your successes, but neither have they duplicated your failures. This sort of thing is a reminder that the undiscussed part of the power of the press is that, yes, when they do their job, they are the machine of an informed democratic process. But they also have the power, when they do their jobs improperly, to turn into the propaganda arm of mischief, misbehavior, and crime.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:27 AM on April 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Claiming that the networks "made mistakes" seems very charitable

They were stupid, but hardly malicious, 'cept for Fox, who are stupid and malicious.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:32 AM on April 23, 2009


This is why I get so angry in discussions about so-called citizen journalism, when old-guard newsmen stand up and say oh christ, bloggers reporting news! They don't know the ethics of journalism! They don't know the standards of good reportage!

Cheap irony. You're ignoring the fact that this is about TV news, which is not what the laments are about, since TV news is a cesspool of lies, misinformation, and bullshit, of which this is just the latest example. The laments are about newspapers, and as you may have noticed, it was a newspaper that won the Pulitzer for digging up this story. Now, you tell me how "citizen journalism" is going to manage to do similar digging when citizens can't afford to spend months on such stories, don't have the kind of access veteran reporters do, and don't have the training that veteran reporters do. Sure, there are a lot of bad, lazy, and/or corrupt reporters; the same is true of any field. But just because there are a lot of lousy restaurant cooks, I don't think many people would advocate firing them all and letting Mom and Pop cook for everyone.
posted by languagehat at 8:41 AM on April 23, 2009 [23 favorites]


...your business model is a dying relic.

NBC is owned by General Electric which is a defense contractor. Dying business model LIKE A FOX.
posted by DU at 8:42 AM on April 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think if anyone's going to cover this on commercial news it will be Rachel Maddow. You can encourage her to do so.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:43 AM on April 23, 2009


I would blame this on the TV news model, rather than painting all "traditional media" or traditional news media with a broad brush. When you have to fill your 24-hour program schedule with spuriously qualified, pontificating assholes talking about the news, because that's your business model, then yeah, you expose yourself to the very real danger of getting owned by someone who subverts your "experts." Talking heads is a bad news model, especially when the talking heads are small and not individually well-known, because they are harder to keep track of.

On the other hand, we know about all this because of a traditional investigative story that appeared in the New York Times -- old media par excellence -- and it was anointed with the traditional laurels of old media, the Pulitzer.
posted by grobstein at 8:44 AM on April 23, 2009


When I read about this story a few days ago, I kept coming back to the same question. Why do people still watch? I have not watched a nightly newscast since 2001. Of course the media is in bed with the government. How can it be otherwise? They are communicating the same messages to the same audience. It isn't about the government simply withholding access from administration critics, it's media people wanting to be inside so they can influence and shape the events themselves, so they can be part of the story.

There's an fpp from yesterday about the role of historians in interpreting and shaping history for the everyman. Isn't news considered to be the first draft of history, and wouldn't that make journalists the front line historians?

This story is important not because it demonstrates that media often acts in the service of government, because we already knew that. This story is important because of how openly and shamelessly they do so. Once you hear that the news isn't reporting the winner of the pulitzer prize for investigative journalism, you can't help but check out what won the prize. Once you do that, it becomes immediately obvious to everyone exactly why they aren't covering the story.

The question is, why does the TV news media not care about being so blatant. Why are they so confident and certain that people will continue to watch what they produce that they don't care about suppressing even obvious stories?

Why are people still watching, and how do we get them to stop watching instead of yelling at the TV while they watch.

The only way to fight this is to turn off the television.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:54 AM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


The only way to fight this is to turn off the televisionon the brain.
posted by DU at 8:56 AM on April 23, 2009


*adds Glenn Greenwald to rss subscriptions*
posted by shmegegge at 9:01 AM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


But expecting [corporate news] to report on their own malfeasance seems a bit pollyanna.

The problem exists and will continue to exist because there's a lack of strong alternatives. A Pulitzer and a post from Greenwald. Great. Now what?

We all love the Internet, sure, but even today, until something is on television, it really doesn't matter. The scramblings of big media to control/dominate the Internet in recent years are frightening long term since that's just choking off the only real other source of information.

And now this feels like the bubble thread, next door over.

(I should be disregarded at all times as a tinfoil-wearing crazy person, of course, but I've long assumed that when a couple of weapons manufacturers bought two of the three network TV stations... well, I kinda figured they knew what they were doing, see?)
posted by rokusan at 9:04 AM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


NBC is owned by General Electric which is a defense contractor. Dying business model LIKE A FOX.

a dying fox
posted by pyramid termite at 9:07 AM on April 23, 2009


The only way to fight this is to turn off the television.

No. This is the way to become ignorant and support the ignorance of others. Watch it critically, watch all sources critically, and support the few institutions (NYT, PBS, NPR) or burgeoning new media entrepreneurs who still care about truth. Yelling may be useless individually, but if everyone who notices dirty tricks starts yelling the big sleepy dog of the public will wake up every now and then.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:12 AM on April 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Now, you tell me how "citizen journalism" is going to manage to do similar digging when citizens can't afford to spend months on such stories, don't have the kind of access veteran reporters do, and don't have the training that veteran reporters do.

There are organizations like TPM and Firedoglake that are that are straddling the "citizen journalism" and professional journalism line.
posted by ryoshu at 9:31 AM on April 23, 2009


Metafilter: the revolution will not be linked on Metafilter.
posted by geos at 9:39 AM on April 23, 2009


Let me add on to my previous tirade by pointing out that I am a newspaperman, and have been for more than a decade (although I switched almost exclusively to online publishing). I agree that citizen journalists are probably not going to be able to do the expensive and necessary work of full-time professional journalists; it was not my intention to suggest they could. I do, however, think citizen journalists have a lot to offer, and it rankles me when older newspeople are dismissive of them, when their houses are sort out of order themselves. After all, the talking head partisan pundits we are discussing here aren't actually limted to television news. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, as an example, may not be a paid staffmember of newspapers like the Washington Post, but he is a frequent source.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:47 AM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Your world is crumbling, old world news guy,

Cheap irony is right. Time and time again, the outrages you read about "mainstream media" are uncovered by, yep, mainstream media. As my colleague, Gary Thompson observed in his review of "State of Play":

Newsmen hate the way Internet bloggers gripe about newspapers.
Because that's traditionally OUR job. It's not only our job, it's the BEST PART of our job. Everyday we come in, pick up half a dozen newspapers, and point out the worst features of each - this article sucks, that writer stinks, that's a terrible headline, etc. It's infuriating to find that pleasure usurped by some blogger, some interloper, some outsider, some non-newspaper entity. (Especially since we're better at it.)

posted by sixpack at 10:54 AM on April 23, 2009


Metafilter: the revolution will not be linked on Metafilter.

Sure it will, but it'll be deleted as single-link newsfilter.
posted by rokusan at 10:55 AM on April 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


No. This is the way to become ignorant and support the ignorance of others. Watch it critically, watch all sources critically

I cannot disagree with this sentiment more. Television news can only be mind poison. Of course everything should be considered critically, but there is nothing redeeming about television news, and a litany of things wrong, dysfunctional, and dangerous about it. There is no reason to watch. You should read newspapers, sources online, blogs, watch online documentaries like Frontline and others, but I see no reason whatsoever to watch CNN or NBC Nightly News.

Furthermore, the notion that you can watch TV news critically to such an extent that you can immunize yourself from it is laughable. Do you really think anyone can parse, deconstruct, analyze, and interpret the flood of out-of-context images, narrative, biases, assumptions, graphics, and edit that constitute a 90 second news story, and to do so while a subsequent 90-second deluge plays after it?

And even if you could maintain an impenetrable critical posture, your view of the world of ideas is limited by what you see and what you critique only. You may hate Fox News, but if that's what you watch and rail against, you are invariably going to assume that Fox represents some portion of the political spectrum of the country, when in fact it may represent no one at all. You aren't getting the world view of the people who agree with some of Fox's positions but not others. You think the opposition is Fox (or Rush or Hannity, or whoever) - but creating that impression in you is also part of what they are deliberately doing.

In any case, the argument for TV news from TV newspeople themselves is not that they cover stories in depth, because that is preposterous. It's that news provides video coverage of events, particularly live coverage. But why is this good? Tell my why watching a car chase or a boat hijacked by pirates live is somehow better than watching it on youtube later. Then tell me why it is important for me to watch it at all. Just because we want to see some things because it is exciting or titillating to do so doesn't mean we should see them, and probably argues that we should not see them.

On top of this, TV news was borne of an era when TV was the only source of video, so there was some justification for editing and packing it in a manageable format because there was no other way to deliver it. But now, do we need NBC News to package the video of an event when Youtube offers multiple video clips of the same events shot by many different people? TV news isn't a live experience, it's the live experience they want you to have.

Let me give you a glimpse of the future. In about 4 years, the cell networks are going to be capable of supporting on-demand real time video calls for their subscribers - think iSight on your iPhone. When that happens, how long before someone decides to set up a site to push those realtime feeds from phones, like youtube live with a million channels. When a "live event" happens, like the next 9-11, do you really think people should want to have some idiot re-contexting that live experience for you, or do you think they will just rather connect to the open video feed of a cell camera on the ground?

The truth is that most people watch TV news because they think other people are watching it, and they want to have that common shared model of the world, whether they agree with parts of that model or not. But in my opinion it would be better if people did not have this homogenized model a priori and instead formed a shared model as the outcome of arguments based on their own individual viewpoints and opinions.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:00 AM on April 23, 2009 [16 favorites]


Now, you tell me how "citizen journalism" is going to manage to do similar digging when citizens can't afford to spend months on such stories, don't have the kind of access veteran reporters do, and don't have the training that veteran reporters do.

This is indeed a terrible problem.

I don't kid myself that I have the answer, but right now I give money to Amy Goodman and Democracy Now directly and also to the station that carries her locally (KBCS).

I would also give money directly to Seymour Hersh and Naomi Klein, if there was a mechanism to do so, and a number of other journalists local, national, and international.

What I would really like is an investigative journalism credit card that would charge me an extra percent fee on the total amount I spend every month, and that would allow me to apportion the money to anyone who registered with the card administration.
posted by jamjam at 11:11 AM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Your world is crumbling, old world news guy, and it's in part because of horseshit like this.

You seem to be under the impression that this story was actually discovered by some guy on livejournal or, God forbid, by The Huffington Post (you know, the ones who copy and paste the New York Times's stuff and a hundred other newspapers and magazines for a living -- until they get sued, I suppose). The New York Times broke it, actually.

There's a billion reasons not to be fans of the way the NYT has been run these past 20 years; still, the assholes on the left who are cheering the death of (the seriously flawed, no one says otherwise) American print media might regret that a lot. Many well researched books have been written about the very serious problems with news reporting in America -- but if you think the solution to Judy Miller's lies is to simply cheer for the Times's death, well, then you probably think that the solution to a STD is chopping your dick off, too.

Because if you're a progressive who's not at least a bit worried by what will replace the vacuum left by the death of American newspapers you might find out that you'll end with more obfuscation, timidity, and government propaganda -- not less.
posted by matteo at 12:16 PM on April 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Joe Beese: I was thinking about Greenwald's column driving home from work yesterday. Corporate news delivering government propaganda is obviously a disgrace. But expecting them to report on their own malfeasance seems a bit pollyanna.

I don't think so - this is even more revealing.

It would be one thing if Brian Williams and several NBC, CBS, et alia heads knew about this and figured it was fine, letting it slide. It would be one thing if the Bush administration was able to get them to pull certain strings out of 'defense of country.' And it would be one thing if such string-pulling happened only at the highest levels.

That would be bad enough; but at least we could rest easy with the rest of their coverage, knowing that the rest of their coverage probably wouldn't be considered 'important enough' to censor, and knowing that, at least at the lowest levels, journalists probably still had the freedom to write articles that were independently verified and true to the record.

This, on the other hand, demonstrates that (a) these news agencies, like an old Hearst paper, doesn't shirk from making company-wide decrees about stories which are not to be mentioned - an organized and absolute way of shutting down reporting that the powers-that-be don't like; (b) where a very charitable person might give them a tiny amount of credit for doing what they thought was right and just in following advice given them by the administration of the President of the US (however corrupt this advice turned out to be), this is an obvious and clear-cut case of shutting down reporting that reflects badly upon them. I don't know what the hell he was thinking, but if I were Brian Williams and I thought I'd done the right thing by having certain experts on my show, I would have requested to report on this, or at least that someone else on the show address the issue and make a statement about the company's position. Good journalism requires that journalists confront the issue of bias and reliability, not that they ignore it.
posted by koeselitz at 12:28 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let me add on to my previous tirade by pointing out that I am a newspaperman, and have been for more than a decade

I think I actually knew that at one point, and I'll try to keep it in mind. It's certainly useful context.

I do, however, think citizen journalists have a lot to offer, and it rankles me when older newspeople are dismissive of them, when their houses are sort out of order themselves. After all, the talking head partisan pundits we are discussing here aren't actually limted to television news.

I couldn't agree more.

There are organizations like TPM and Firedoglake that are that are straddling the "citizen journalism" and professional journalism line.

And good for them, but I think they'd be the first to say they can't replace everything newspapers now do.
posted by languagehat at 12:52 PM on April 23, 2009


Watch it critically, watch all sources critically, and support the few institutions (NYT, PBS, NPR) or burgeoning new media entrepreneurs who still care about truth.

Really? NYT, PBS and NPR as bastions of truth? Did you miss the whole run up to the Iraq War? The rampant corporatism? Or did I miss your joke?
posted by euphorb at 12:52 PM on April 23, 2009


Television news can only be mind poison

Not if you turn the sound off. Seriously, I've noticed this in places that include tvs, which seem to be a lot of places that serve lunch. If the sound is on, it's a constant stream of audio hell, as they gleefully lurch from one horrible story that is terribly reported to another, before switching to talking heads.

If the sound is off, you can just read the crawl, and get some basic information to check out on the web later.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:53 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, true, if you turn the sound off, the ticker crawl is sort of like a pooly implemented RSS reader.

So that's something. Pity about the rest of the screen though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:10 PM on April 23, 2009


Are there any blogger collectives emerging that emulate the process of traditional newsrooms? The traditional way of putting out a newspaper, if done ethically, has a lot of built-in methods (desk editors, copy editors, etc) for ensuring that news and articles are vetted and unbiased. I'd like to see a group of bloggers that tried this, but with a decentralized power structure. I'm not sure how that would look, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:10 PM on April 23, 2009


there is nothing redeeming about television news

Perhaps you have not yet discovered the HOUR-LONG news broadcast carried on BBC America twice a weeknight? It's exponentially better than the television news you are likely thinking about, and has a more global focus than anything else around.

NYT, PBS and NPR as bastions of truth?

Well, considering that all three of these sources had reported about the fake Nigerian documents re: yellowcake sales to Iraq MONTHS before the story broke to the mainstream, and they were reporting the TRUTH about this situation and not relying on the Bush Administration's continual flogging of those documents as being real... That right there, if anyone had listened, would have diffused a great amount of the Bush case for attacking Iraq. Sadly, it was NEVER reported by the network news, and by the time it finally was, it was enshrouded with the whole Plamegate foolishness, and even then the fact that the documents were forgeries was hardly ever mentioned.
posted by hippybear at 1:18 PM on April 23, 2009


Astro Zombie: Let me add on to my previous tirade by pointing out that I am a newspaperman, and have been for more than a decade (although I switched almost exclusively to online publishing).

I am having difficulty reconciling this knowledge with the usual nature of your posts. I always kind of pictured you as looking like Alfred E. Neuman. Or maybe Cthulhu with a clown nose.
posted by JHarris at 1:22 PM on April 23, 2009


Cthulhu With A Clown Nose will be the name of my next album.
posted by hippybear at 1:30 PM on April 23, 2009


Well, I'm mostly an arts writer. But I am a Premack Award winner for public affairs journalism. Somehow.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:50 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


JHarris: I am having difficulty reconciling this knowledge with the usual nature of your posts. I always kind of pictured you as looking like Alfred E. Neuman. Or maybe Cthulhu with a clown nose.

Astro Zombie: Well, I'm mostly an arts writer.

Ah. So: Cthulhu with a clown nose and free theater tickets.

Just joshin'. Actually, I can see the journalism thing; you always sounded like a journalist to me.
posted by koeselitz at 4:21 PM on April 23, 2009


I've never sounded like a journalist to my editors, he said, and typed in a colon and a close parenthesis.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:39 PM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Burhanistan: Are there any blogger collectives emerging that emulate the process of traditional newsrooms? The traditional way of putting out a newspaper, if done ethically, has a lot of built-in methods (desk editors, copy editors, etc) for ensuring that news and articles are vetted and unbiased. I'd like to see a group of bloggers that tried this, but with a decentralized power structure. I'm not sure how that would look, though.

This is a point I was thinking of making, but you've put it better than I would have - it really doesn't seem to me that the long-hyped replacement of journalists by bloggers has actually happened or will happen. And not for lack of trying on the bloggers' part. I don't even really look very hard for it, but I could rattle off at least half a dozen political or news blogs I can think of. It seems as though about five or six years ago when blogs became ridiculously popular for the first time a lot of people had an ambition to step into the newswriting gap through a blog, and the last few elections especially have seen that ridiculously large uptick in 'independent bloggers' looking to cover the event. But even so, the few independent news blogs that I know of have really instead become less news sources and more sources for news analysis. The chief example that I can think of is the Huffington Post, which saw itself from the start as a news source; I don't know anybody who turns there primarily for news, although they do some news aggregation. People turn to the Huffington Post for analysis of the news. In fact, most news blogs are really just aggregators of news stories; they link to what most people perceive (to a larger or lesser degree) to be 'reputable' news sources—local TV news sites, national services like Reuters and AP, newspapers large and small, et cetera—and comment on them.

I'd even go so far as to say the whole point of blogging is utterly different from the point of journalism; but of course every journalist, old-school and new-, knows this. Weblogging is intended as a way of communicating momentary events from the perspective of an individual; this is why the defining analogy of blogging is to keeping a diary. Journalism is the act of writing about events while balancing the need for immediacy and accuracy with the need for information devoid of the personal. Even so-called 'human interest stories' rely for their whole impact on the assumption of unbiased reportage that is about events and people rather than about the person writing the story.

An interesting observation, by the way: I didn't know anything about this story, and didn't hear about it through any of my standard news sources, although I look at news almost exclusively online. My standard sources are the BBC, Deutsche-Welle, and Google News. The only one of those that's a US source, Google News, didn't show it because, presumably, Google just does news aggregation based on the frequency that a story appears, and because this story didn't really appear anywhere.
posted by koeselitz at 4:43 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


He doesn't sound like journalist to editors, man says; met with general unsurprise and apathy.
posted by koeselitz at 4:46 PM on April 23, 2009


The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And then poof he was gone.
posted by Mr Stickfigure at 5:43 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Now, you tell me how "citizen journalism" is going to manage to do similar digging when citizens can't afford to spend months on such stories, don't have the kind of access veteran reporters do, and don't have the training that veteran reporters do."

L-hat -- David Simon of The Wire explores these issues in this great article from the Washington Post -- In Baltimore, No One Left to Press the Police
posted by vronsky at 6:08 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are organizations like TPM and Firedoglake that are that are straddling the "citizen journalism" and professional journalism line.

I'd like to plug propublica.org as well, which I'd regard as at least equal to TPM, and streets ahead of Firedoglake in every respect.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:07 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, considering that all three of these sources had reported about the fake Nigerian documents re: yellowcake sales to Iraq MONTHS before the story broke to the mainstream...would have diffused a great amount of the Bush case for attacking Iraq.

It's hard to get much more mainstream then the NY Times, PBS and NPR. I checked and the earliest references to the story in the NY Times and PBS News Hour were in July of 2003 when Joe Wilson wrote his famous opinion piece. NPR brought Seymour Hersch to talk about his piece in the New Yorker about the forgeries on March 25th after the invasion had started. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, made a presentation to the UN security council pointing out that the documents were fraudulent on March 7th. The war started on March 20th. All of these news organizations had two weeks to report on these documents but they did not.
posted by euphorb at 1:12 AM on April 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


euphorb: Thank you for doing the research I was too lazy to do. I know I had heard about that IAEA report and Joe Wilson's trip to Africa before the invasion, and was pretty sure it was via NPR, likely Morning Edition. However, my brain, being all spongy and such, doesn't always keep its facts straight. I stand corrected, as does this thread.
posted by hippybear at 7:00 AM on April 24, 2009


Just coming in late to say that I've been following NPR religiously since the Pulizters were announced, and I haven't heard anything about David Barstow. They have ignored this story just like the rest of the corporate media.

I've been paying a lot of attention lately to how little the current incarnation of NPR has to do with the NPR I remember from 20-30 years ago. This incarnation regularly features Fox news people as commentators, while shutting out liberal voices. The Diane Rehms show, for example, regularly has more "conservative" voices than liberal voices, and this has been going on for at least 10 years. When the Republicans were in power, the logic seemed to be "Well, we need to hear from that side of things", and now that the Democrats are in power, it seems to be "Well, we need balance, so we'll keep featuring the Republicans."

In a December 2005 column run by NPR ombudsman and former Vice President Jeffrey Dvorkin denied allegations that NPR relies heavily on conservative think-tanks. In his column, Dvorkin listed the number of times NPR had cited experts from conservative and liberal think tanks in the previous year. However, according to MediaMatters, a progressive media group, the numbers he reported indicate an overwhelmingly conservative bias. His own tally showed that 63% of NPR experts from think tanks came from right-leaning organizations while only 37% came from left-leaning organizations.

After listening really carefully over the last 6 months, for the first time in decades, I think I'm going to take NPR off my annual donations list, because other than a few entertainment shows, they're just not unbiased news anymore, and that was what I was supporting. I'll chose to support some shows that I enjoy, and subscribe to the podcasts of those shows, but the overall structure...it has lost my confidence as it lost it's neutrality.
posted by dejah420 at 10:20 PM on April 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


dejah420: that protest will only truly be effective if you send a letter outlining your concerns to your local station, or even to the national NPR office. Just withholding without some other form of communication will only make them beg more for funds from others, it won't communicate your concerns or protest to those who need to hear it.

I haven't done the same study you have done, and I find NPR to be too valuable in this redneck part of the country to keep from giving money, especially since my local stations are not attached to a school and so are more heavily dependent in folx like me for funds than most stations. But really, write a letter or three. Let those in charge know about your concernes and what you have observed. That's the only effective way to communicate.

That is, if you hope your withholding of funds will cause change, and not simply the collapse of the organization itself. If the latter is the case, then by no means should you let them know why you aren't sending funds.
posted by hippybear at 2:41 PM on April 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Amy Goodman had Barstow on her show this morning. It's not like the networks are going to invite him.
posted by caddis at 7:53 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


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