Monday, April 7, 2008

The Media Have Failed Us

Required reading from Greg Greenwald:

In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to "domestic military operations" within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.

Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

"Yoo and torture" - 102

"Mukasey and 9/11" -- 73

"Yoo and Fourth Amendment" -- 16

"Obama and bowling" -- 1,043

"Obama and Wright" -- More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)

"Obama and patriotism" - 1,607

"Clinton and Lewinsky" -- 1,079

There's another angle of critique that Greenwald neglects -- it's not just rampant narcissism on part of journalists, but the culture of corporate media.

Journalists are expected to contribute to the bottom line, i.e., turn a profit for the parent company. I wrote earlier about a survey which found that 91% of newspaper, magazine, TV, radio, and online journalists believed their top priority to be to "make [his/her] publication successful by creating appealing content for its audiences." Journalists have internalized the values of their owning corporation in lieu of their commitment, their civic duty, to provide to the public the necessary information to protect our democratic values and form of governance.

So, it's no wonder that the media have largely ignored the Department of Justice memo and neglected to cover of the occupation of Iraq more thoroughly as of late -- journalists think, for their own self-serving interests, that trivial matters like Obama's bowling score are more important to the American people than attacks on American civil rights and liberties.

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