Thursday, October 06, 2005

Tina Brown Wishes For Loose-Lipped Insiders To Write Books?!? Is That What Woodward and Bernstein Taught Reporters?

Tina Brown, in today's Washington Post, mourns the "lack of literary lava out of Washington's Mount Vesuvius" -- the fact that no one from President Bush's past or present inner circle has written a messy tell-all.

"Since the outbursts of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and terrorism czar Richard Clarke," Brown writes. "Karen Hughes's memoir was as purpose-driven as her pantsuit. Ari Fleischer's was about as revealing as one of his briefings. ("After the press conference was over," he confides, "I joined the president in the residence and told him I thought he did great. He felt good, too, as he reclined in his chair and lit a cigar.") No doubt John Ashcroft has something in the works, but after the thudding dullness of his CNN commentary on the Roberts hearings it seems likely he'll be singing from the administration hymn sheet. And I don't think anyone is waiting with bated breath for a color-coded page-turner from former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, who on the job always wore a stunned-ox look."

The column, which goes on to praise some of the tell-alls coming out of Tony Blair's inner circle in London, was meant to be read with tongue-in-cheek. But I found the piece disheartening.

Although Brown didn't make this point, what she's writing is in truth a condemnation of a lazy mainstream media.

She does write for the Post, after all. The newspaper of Woodward and Bernstein. The newspaper that launched a generation of investigative reporters. And Brown is waiting for a Bush insider to write a tell-all book?

***

It was just a couple of week ago that NBC News anchor Brian Williams, reflecting on the media's aggressive coverage of the lame federal response to Hurricane Katrina, told the Post's Howard Kurtz that the long period of reticence by news organizations -- which he dubs "the 9/11 syndrome" -- ended with Hurricane Katrina.

Uh-huh. Sure.

"What was really going on during the missing hours on 9/11 aboard Air Force One, or in the interlude after Election Day 2000 when he vanished from sight and then emerged talking as if he were already president?" Brown asks in her column today. "I want to know about that lazy hidden summer of 2001 when the Aug. 6 presidential daily briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." moldered in his in box, and why the governor of Louisiana couldn't find him when Hurricane Katrina was devastating the Gulf Coast. I want chapter and verse on the incident with the invasive pretzel. I want to deduce from parsing the punctuation the precise moment in the war in Iraq when his mood changed from swaggering certainty to the suppressed panic that now hovers at the corners of his mouth every time he goes into the herky-jerky routine of The War! On Terror! I want to know when the president first knew that the Valerie Plame leak was going to cause the long arm of the law to reach into the heart of his inner circle."

All very good questions. Why exactly aren't the Post's writers finding the answers?

Dennis Miller, the comedian turned conservative cable host, said he would "pass" on criticizing Bush after 9/11. Maybe the mainstream media did the same.

On issues critical of the administration, the mainstream media has been a step behind throughout the time of the Bush Administration. There have been few major investigative efforts -- into the above questions or others -- by the Post or others. If anything, one could argue that reporters such as Judith Miller of the New York Times have aided the Bush Administration's cause, offering anonymous insider tips without critical thinking -- so much so that the Times had to run a half-page apology.

Why? Maybe the "reticence" of the mainstream media is because it has allowed itself to be pigeon-holed by the conservative noise machine. Investigate and find some evidence critical of the administration, and you suffer from "liberal media bias."

One thing I do know, though, is that reporters should stop waiting for a Tom Ridge tell-all, and start finding sources inside the administration who can explain what the hell is going on.

4 Comments:

Anonymous kurovski said...

A savvy publisher would merely offer the largest amount ever for such a book. An obscene amount. (Oh, and 'round-the-clock protection.)

They'd make a fortune selling the thing all over the world.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous peggy said...

great post!

I am one of the millions out here who wonder what happened to our media.

Remember the days of blue dresses, no detail was too small to investigate, now people are dying by the thousands and it's as if no one cares.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you guys reading the same papers I get here in northern NJ? Theyh aren't criticizing Bush? You're kidding, right? It's been nothing but 24/7 criticism for years.

While we're at it, what POSITIVE ideas have the Dems or the press had? Give two examples. Okay, I'll make it easier. Give one.

(And I left my name off so you moonbats can't use your typical 4-letter laced rebuttal.)

4:51 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

Anonymous -- the fact that you refer to liberals as moonbats makes it pretty clear you aren't interested in a discussion.

Go enjoy your Sean Hannity universe, anonymous. I'll stick to the reality-based one.

7:06 PM  

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