Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The media--yes, it's still shilling

I'm sure everyone out there has heard that Tom Daschle, nominated head of the Department of Health and Human Services, messed up on his tax returns to the tune of $100K+. I'm neither apologizing for him, nor giving him a pass--he screwed up. If you listen to or read the traditional media, however, you would think that Daschle had been convicted of boiling puppies while sodomizing 12-year old girls, calling into question both his, and more importantly, President Obama's characters for even presuming Daschle should hold office in the new Administration. But people, he paid his back taxes already, with penalties and interest. It's over. His offense hurt no one and wasn't even a misdemeanor, let alone a felony, but the right wing is outraged that such a person could conceivably still serve the public.
Do you see how this works now? For those of you not paying attention the last time there was a Democratic President, the media will blow any possible misstep by any Democrat anywhere into the worst scandal ever, providing cover for when a Republican is caught by making it seem like "business as usual". The public is then treated to the line that "both sides do it", leading to the question of why bother caring about who is in power, finally resulting in decreasing voter turnout and increasing apathy and cynicism toward government. This plays directly into Republican strategies designed to fool the public into thinking they even care about people, allowing them to loot the public treasury and rule without regard to oversight, as we have seen over the last 8 years baldly.
For the record, who can even name Bush's Director of Health and Human Services? Off the top of my head I sure can't*, but I can say that the former President himself skipped out on Vietnam and then didn't even bother to fulfill his minimal National Air Guard duty that was his alternative service. Isn't that just a wee bit more dishonest than what Daschle did? Or how about the Vice President, who retained millions of dollars of stock options in a company that would then receive billions of dollars of no-bid government contracts while he was in office? That suggests a tad more corruption than Daschle's misinterpretation of the tax code, even if it was willful, which has not been (and probably can not be) proven.
So let's try and think about/remember how these stories have been/were covered by the press. In Smirky's case, there were "smoking guns" of his disregard for duty all over the place--there is literally no evidence whatsoever of his presence on duty for the last 2 years of his Vietnam-avoiding military "career", other than the half-baked refreshed memory of one of Bush's friends. The NYTimes sat on the story for an entire freaking year, waiting until after the 2004 election to publish it, and even then nobody followed up on this court-martial level offense committed by the future Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. You'd have to hunt far and wide to find any coverage of Cheney's malfeasance--which is hundreds of times more venal, just going by the sheer numbers of dollars alone--in the traditional media, let alone the wall-to-wall 24/7 blitz Daschle is facing, and I don't recall anyone outside of those of us paying attention on the left calling for his censure, let alone his resignation.
I am absolutely talking apples to oranges here by comparing Daschle, who is a nominee for a fairly low-level Cabinet post, and his non-crime that he has already fixed, to a President and Vice President who committed far greater criminal and civil infractions, if not outright felonies, but this is what we're seeing: the press ignored, for the most part, those crimes committed by the highest Republicans in the land, but are exploding in outrage over Tom Daschle's tax returns. This is how right wing control of the media works, folks, and it's not going away unless we step in and regain legal mastery over the ownership of these licensees. Bring back the Fairness Doctrine for broadcast media, reestablish regulatory oversight of print, radio, and television outlets via a properly funded and supported FCC, and reinstitute and enforce the laws restricting monopolistic ownership of any kind, but most importantly the broadcast media. The airwaves are ours as a whole public; they do not belong to any one faction, corporation, company, or individual. It is time we took back control of our public assets to make sure this kind of slanted coverage is eradicated in favor of actual reportage of the truths we so desperately need to hear in order to function as a democracy.
* Bush had 2 HHS heads: 1) Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin and failed Presidential candidate; and 2) Michael Leavitt, former governor of Utah and head of the EPA. Non-cheeseheads and non-Mormons will be forgiven for not knowing who these men are, I would think . . .

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