Sunday, May 27, 2007

Media News Roundup- Sunday May 20th to Sat May 26th

Media News Roundup- Sunday May 20th to Sat May 26th

Keeping an eye on the failing Fourth Estate and looking for some TRUTH in journalism.

Media reports GOP Rep. Boehner's big "cry" but misses his even bigger "lie." News blackout over directive giving the Executive control over other branches of government in the case of a “catastrophic emergency.” Former Bush White House Andy Card's "booing" at UMass graduation reported slightly, but still little news on his role in the hospital drama involving himself, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and a then gravely ill John Ashcroft. Bright spot of the week: Southern Poverty Law Center takes on CNN’s Lou Dobbs for inducing “hysteria” about immigrants—including the charge that they spread diseases like leprosy.

Press Coverage of GOP Rep. Boehner's "Cry" Ignores his "Lie."

During the debate over the Iraq War spending bill this week, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) choked up as he talked about Iraq. In a passionate flurry of words some have called staged theatre, Boehner managed to sob through the following:

I didn't come here to be a congressman -- I came here to do something.... And I think at the top of our list is providing for the safety and security of the American people. That's at the top of our list. After 3,000 of our fellow citizens died at the hands of these terrorists, when are we going to stand up and take them on? When are we going to defeat them?
While this scene was played and written about repeatedly in the press, there was almost no calling into account Boehner's glaringly false comments. Yes, "3,000 of our fellow citizens" died at the hands of terrorists, but none of those perpetrators were from Iraq--which was what the debate in Congress was all about. It has been confirmed (repeatedly, and through varied sources) that there were no links between Iraq and 9/11 except in the now debunked propaganda of the Bush White House and their pro-war allies. For a news press that was so shamefully duped, and perhaps complicit, into helping launch a war based on these mistruths, penance might begin with pointing out this fallacy of an Iraq-9/11 link whenever and wherever it raises its tiresome head.

Media Blackout on “Unitary Executive” Directive

On May 9th the Bush administration released a directive called the Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive. In the event of a “Catastrophic Emergency,” the directive states that the President of the United States will be entrusted with leading the activities to ensure constitutional government. Though it speaks of keeping the other two branches of government intact, it cedes their control to the President. Other than on sites like Digg, a few blogs and foreign news agencies, there has been nearly no reporting on this directive in the mainstream press. Some have stated that the directive is not as “Orwellian” as it seems, and that prior Presidents have enacted similar measures. But given the blatant abuse of the Executive carried out by this White House—from domestic spying to the corruption of the federal judiciary—one would think the media would at the least, in that context, think this story worthy enough to make it on the news...somewhere between the latest round-the-clock coverage of Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

Andrew Card Booed at UMass as his Role in Wire-Tapping Hospital Drama Continues to Go Mostly Unreported

Former White House chief of staff Andrew Card was booed by students as he rose to accept an honorary degree at the University of Massachusetts commencement. Protesters claimed they were angry that Card “lied to the American people in the early days of the Iraq war" and that a "war criminal" should not have been honored at the graduation. This incident didn’t make much of a splash in the way of news coverage, other than some minor soundbites. But more important, this was the second week in which Card’s role in the wire-tapping hospital drama involving himself, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and a gravely ill John Ashcroft went underreported in the mainstream press. As cited last week in this forum, former deputy attorney general James B. Comey's May 15 congressional testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the matter was like a bizarre tale out of an Oliver Stone film.

Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee that then White House chief of staff Andy Card, along with currently embattled Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, then White House counsel, attempted to pressure the bed ridden Attorney General John Ashcroft, "at his [hospital] bedside ... to approve an extension of the secret NSA warrantless eavesdropping program over strong Justice Department objections even though Ashcroft was seriously ill," and did not have power as the attorney general during his recovery from surgery. Comey described a scene of power struggles at the highest levels of government, in which he was forced to hide behind FBI Director Robert S. Mueller from the men (Card and Gonzales) dispatched from the White House. Ashcroft however would have the final say on the matter. With his wife holding his hand, Comey said “Attorney General Ashcroft then… lifted his head off the pillow and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter,” refusing to endorse the administrations attempt to legitimize illegal wiretaps placed on American citizens.

Such high stakes drama within the halls of government would be expected to fill the news media headlines for days. But, as of last week, NBC has been about the only television broadcaster to carry the story in depth. So perhaps, in keeping with that tradition of silence, Andy Card’s “booing” was deemed too trivial for mainstream news—lest it lead to a larger story of some serious significance.

Bright Spot of the Week

SPLC Takes on CNN's Lou Dobbs Anti-Immigrant “Hysteria”

Immigration is a complex subject – one that deserves a robust, democratic debate. But there is no room for demagoguery that poisons the discussion with falsehoods and encourages bigotry and racist extremism. That's why the Southern Poverty Law Center is challenging CNN anchor Lou Dobbs to report accurately on this volatile issue and why we wrote an open letter to CNN about his reporting. Unfortunately, Dobbs has used his national platform to spread misinformation about undocumented immigrants while ignoring facts and ideas that do not support his agenda.

Spreading Hysteria- CNN's Lou Dobbs Spreads Anti-Immigrant Lies


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