by Skip Kaltenheuser
If you haven’t seen it, the long version of Matt Taibbi’s critique of journalism over Russia-gate, LOADED with supportive sub-links, is worth your time as an exercise in grappling with media herd instinct and the folly of putting our grand papers of record at the head of the herd. It’s also a great contemplation of the journalistic ethics and cautions that have been cut adrift, the sort the Columbia Journalism Review and journalism schools across the country might take note of. Matt Taibbi: It’s Official – Russiagate is This Generation’s WMD.
For this slow reader, it was worth hanging-in, as it’s much more richly detailed than this still worthwhile summation Taibbi recently published in Rolling Stone. The one encouraging item is that the median age for CNN viewers is 60 and the median for MSNBC is 65, so I feel more youthful just for not having cable.
Coming after his piece on unaccountable media that enabled the WMD con that waltzed us into invading Iraq, I think Taibbi ought to earn a Pulitzer or some such for media criticism.
If you didn’t catch the Democracy Now! debate between Glenn Greenwald and David Cay Johnston, it’s also sobering. It does come with the guilty pleasure of sideswiping MSNBC and Rachel Maddow who’ve used their hot pursuits of Russia collusion to challenge FOX in taking up the task of proving Orwell’s enduring wisdom on propaganda.
I’m now bracing under forty lashes administered by this Intercept podcast which includes Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada, Taibbi and Naomi Klein, a good wrap-up perspective with a transcript option, if the unseen voices of a Beckett play are unsettling.
I’ve certainly had my fun with Trump, such as Inauguration Day Weather Forecast: 54 Degrees, Cloudy, Light Wind, Chance of Golden Showers. But like many who’ve dipped into journalism, I know the comforts of having it both ways, so I also took such occasions to work in skepticism over the Russian election collusion narrative. I’ve always been of the mindset that even if true, I didn’t care what snake hands me an apple off the Tree of Knowledge as long as it gives me the straight poop. Other than interesting intrigues, I don’t much care if truth comes via a hack or a walkaway thumb drive. After all, which more greatly damaged our Eden’s already fractured democracy, the DNC’s anti-democratic thumb on the scales during the 2016 presidential primaries, or providing the public with proof confirming the weight of the thumb? I’m picking door number one. If media had been doing its job, no such choice need apply. Instead we were left to wonder at mainstream media’s devotion to the Divine Right of Queens, and if it went so far as to grease the skids for the ratings-meister who was conveniently also the opponent Hillary most desired.
If something later comes along regarding explorations I’ve long thought had greater potential, such as if there were violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or, as Howie has often underscored, potential money laundering via real estate portals and other foreign players, etc…, then great, to the ramparts. But should they occur, most enlightenments would be better left to the remedy of elections, not coveting President Mike “End of Days” Pence.
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Meanwhile, I hope the Democrats can now fully focus on explaining the dangers of galloping venality in this godforsaken presidency, of which Howie has supplied a cornucopia. Topping the list is the risk that the financial sector is again exposing the country to after those trusted with oversight again willfully take their eyes off the ball. Catch up on that queasy feeling by perusing the topics at Wall Street on Parade, I’m pleased to note that after a brief absence that site has fired up again. It is not a cure for insomnia.
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After the invasion of Iraq, the current drumbeat on Iran by the usual suspects and the weird alliances with Saudi Arabia (which 60 Minutes alleged uses Israeli spy technology to monitor dissidents like murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi), I’ve always thought Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s influence more of a fright than Russia’s. But we’ll not likely see either party’s leadership seriously push investigations of those actors. The bipartisan piling on Rep. IIhan Omar at the AIPAC conference was as disgusting and as disheartening a political spectacle as I’ve ever seen. Stop it. Apart from the injustice of it, it looked like a parade of frightened fools.
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By the way, last Friday there was a uniquely contrarian conference, on the Israeli lobby’s influence on American policy, for which video and audio are now available, with transcripts coming along. Which is a great thing, because you won’t hear a peep out of mainstream media. I scribbled on it here. Take a breath and consider that in adjusted dollars we’ve spent far more on foreign aid to Israel than we spent under the Marshall Plan rebuilding Europe after WWII . Now tell me it’s not all about Benjamins flowing freely.
Beyond her undeniable cat-wrangling skills, one of the big selling points for Rep. Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker was her fundraising ability with big donors. For me her fundraising prowess was a red flag about whom she might be quietly mortgaging worthy Democratic Party values to, from Big Money to Big Tech to those looking to gloss over America’s soul-numbing complicity in the plight of the Palestinians. And what can one say about Chuck Schumer, Wall Street’s Manchurian Senator? For too many Democratic politicians, and for those in the growing military-industrial-fundraising-consulting complex that enables them, Russia was a great distraction from attending to issues on which those politicians and enablers are as for-sale as Trump. Trump is not Washington’s only distraction artist.
The silver lining is that maybe Russia’s creaky ship and the poisoner/kleptocrat at its helm will now stop sucking the air out of the room. That will enable Bernie and the like-minded to better spotlight their critical issues and keep coaxing the party to sail on better currents. And as important, they can now step out of the background noise to make their case to the independent voters they will have to win over to succeed at the ballot box. That goes hand in hand with beating back America’s worst impulses as embodied by Trump and the Republicans, now busy about the game of whittling down health care and all aspects of government that diminish inequality and the wealth gap. Highlighting the contrast has always been the best route to take Trumpster to the dumpster. It’s the cure for the Mueller hangover.
So bon voyage, Russia, and for now, good riddance.
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