target='new"'>Frank Rich column is a dandy
recap of what’s been happening in The Land of Oz. “The attacks [on the press] continue to be so
successful that even now, long after many news organizations, including The Times, have been
found guilty of failing to puncture the administration’s prewar W.M.D. hype, new details on that
same story are still being ignored or left uninvestigated,” he wrote Sunday, citing the July 23,
2002, “Downing Street memo” as an example.
Well, Frank, you can’t say Greg Palast didn’t tell us — see
target='new"'>The Gun That Smokes, of May
5, 2005. In re: “the kind of lapdog news media the Nixon White House cherished,” which you
single out for a parallel to the contemporary version, see href="http://www.artsjournal.com/herman/archives20050601.shtml#100759"
target='new"'>GAO Finding: Gannon Did Not Break
Law, of June 10. In re: Charles W. Colson, who you rightly point out
“embarked on a ruthless program of intimidation that included threatening antitrust action against
the networks if they didn’t run pro-Nixon stories” and so on, see href="http://www.artsjournal.com/herman/archives20050601.shtml#100501"
target='new"'>I Find It
Strange (as did many others), of June 1.
You certainly summarized, as well as anybody has, the peculiarity of Colson’s moral
complaint about Mark Felt (a k a Deep Throat):
Such is the equivalently supine state of much of the news media today that
Mr. Colson was repeatedly trotted out, without irony, to pass moral judgment on Mr. Felt — and
not just on Fox News, the cable channel that is actually run by the former Nixon media maven,
Roger Ailes. “I want kids to look up to heroes,” Mr. Colson said, oh so sorrowfully, on NBC’s
“Today” show, condemning Mr. Felt for dishonoring “the confidence of the president of the
United States.” Never mind that Mr. Colson dishonored the law, proposed bombing the
Brookings Institution and went to prison for his role in the break-in to steal the psychiatric
records of The Times’s Deep Throat on Vietnam, Daniel Ellsberg. The “Today” host, Matt Lauer,
didn’t mention any of this — or even that his guest had done jail time. None of the other TV
anchors who interviewed Mr. Colson — and he was ubiquitous — ever specified his criminal
actions in the Nixon years. Some identified him onscreen only as a “former White House
I especially love what you concluded from that:
Had anyone been so rude (or professional) as to recount Mr. Colson’s sordid
past, or to raise the question of whether he was a hero or a traitor, the genealogical line between
his Watergate-era machinations and those of his present-day successors would have been all too
painfully clear. The main difference is that in the Nixon White House, the president’s men plotted
behind closed doors. The current administration is now so brazen it does its dirty work in plain
Only once during the Deep Throat rollout did I see a palpable, if perhaps
unconscious, effort to link the White House of 1972 with that of 2005. It occurred at the start,
when ABC News, with the first comprehensive report on Vanity Fair’s scoop, interrupted
President Bush’s post-Memorial Day Rose Garden news conference to break the story. Suddenly
the image of the current president blathering on about how hunky-dory everything is in Iraq was
usurped by repeated showings of the scene in which the newly resigned Nixon walked across the
adjacent White House lawn to the helicopter that would carry him into exile.
target='new"'>The Free Press in Full Squeak,
of May 29; href="http://www.artsjournal.com/herman/archives20050501.shtml#100454"
target='new"'>Imperial Mourning, of Memorial
Day, May 30; and href="http://www.artsjournal.com/herman/archives20050501.shtml#100476"
target='new"'>What Is Really Happening in
Iraq?, of May 31.
And bless you, Frank, for this:
The journalists who do note the resonances of now with then rarely get to
connect those dots on the news media’s center stage of television. You are more likely to hear
instead of how Watergate inspired too much “gotcha” journalism. That’s a rather absurd premise
given that no “gotcha” journalist got the goods on the biggest story of our time: the false
intimations of incipient mushroom clouds peddled by American officials to sell a war that now
threatens to match the unpopularity and marathon length of Vietnam.
Frank, you have to start watching
target='new"'>Democracy Now! We all do. It’s
not the only TV news show that connects the dots, but it does a damned serious job of it, and it’s
out there five days a week on more than 330 TV and radio stations, as well as the Web. Put it on
your to-do list, if you haven’t already. Today’s broadcast has an href="http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/06/13/145217"
target='new"'>interview color=#003399> with former FBI agent Mike German, a whistleblower who quit to
protest the FBI’s lousy management of its counter-terrorism program. German talks about the
threat of terrorism, not necessarily from foreign terrorists, but from domestic “lone wolves”
spawned by white supremacist groups.
By the way, Frank, my staff of thousands envies your full-time research assistant and your
Lexis-Nexis subscription. So do I, not to mention the nifty writing.