Inches on the reel to reel

Lance Mannion ponders the seemingly limitless ability of Bush and his handlers to escape the taint of revelations like the Downing Street Memo and failures like the social security privitization plan. Then he takes up a favorite topic of conversation among members of the Maud household:

How did George W. Bush, of all people, come to be the first President since John Kennedy to earn an exemption from the media’s natural cynicism and skepticism?

Why this guy?…

How is it that to raise the question of whether or not a President might have lied us into a war, let alone wave the proof that he did in the media’s faces, is to get a dismissive That is so over or even to be told that you’re just playing make-believe, real grown-ups don’t bother with such fun and games?

Why this guy?

The answer is easy enough where Fox — or any news outlet controlled by Rupert Murdoch — is concerned.

But what about other mainstream media organizations? Did things begin to derail with embedded reporters providing Iraqi war coverage, in the words of the New York Times, “so positive as to verge on celebratory“? Is the problem, as Maureen Dowd has implied, that journalists critical of the administration are denied the press passes that are passed out like candy to hotmilitarystud tax evaders evincing a “willingness to shill free for the White House“? Or do journalists and media outlets pull punches so they won’t be cut off from White House sources disseminating propaganda masquerading as breaking news? Finally, wherefore art thou, NPR?

Email that surfaced yesterday reveals that chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Kenneth Tomlinson has looked to the White House for “guidance” on various issues, although the law requires the CPB board to shield public broadcasting (including NPR and PBS) from political pressure and to ensure balanced reporting. A message from Tomlinson to a former CPB CEO reads:

The White House has issued guidance. WH officially opposed to the Burns amendment [that would have provided protections to small broadcasters].

Media Matters lays this smoking gun next to Tomlinson’s assurance, given to the LA Times last month, that:

There has been absolutely no contact from anyone at the White House to me saying we need to do this or that with public broadcasting.

Presumably somebody at the CPB found the cojones (or name your female equivalent; is an equal-opportunity source of insults) to air the email because funding for public broadcasting is once again under threat from Republicans in Congress. To the tune of $100 million (25% of the corporation’s budget).

Background reading:

  • In April, Deborah Solomon questioned CPB president Ken Ferree about his commitment to NPR and PBS. (Interview reproduced here.) Ferree said he was too busy riding his motorcycle to listen to NPR. His patience for PBS is also, apparently, limited. “I don’t always want to sit down and read Shakespeare, and Lehrer is akin to Shakespeare. Sometimes I really just want a People magazine, and often that is in the evening, after a hard day,” he told Solomon. (I could live without Solomon’s sneering literary interviews, but since the Ferree and Gannon take-downs I’ve dreamed the Times would sic her on Rove next, then Rumsfeld, Frist, Ashcroft and Condi. And that’s just my suggested line-up through the first week in August.)


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