The Media are Playing for the Other Team

The Democrats have four good candidates in the Presidential race. Any one of them can be elected, any one of them would be a far better President than George W. Bush, and whichever one runs will be slimed by the combined efforts of the RNC and the national media.

That’s why I don’t think that we should put a lot of energy into thinking about the various candidates’ different vulnerabilities. If Max Cleland can be slimed, anyone can be. The Democratic candidate is going to have to run over the media, because the great majority of the media are going to be playing for the other team.

Cases in point: the Bush AWOL issue, the Bush budget, and the recent attempts to blame the intelligence failures leading up to Iraq War II on the CIA.

The facts about Bush’s military service have been readily available for a couple of years. There is room for differences of opinion, but there’s unquestionably a real issue here. But the major media either ignore the issue, claim that Bush has been vindicated, or claim that no one really knows. Any of them could educate himself by clicking on one of the following links and spending half an hour, but none of them has bothered. (Links: DeLong, Daily Howler, and Orcinus.)

Second, there’s the Bush budget. For months Brad DeLong has been commenting on the disastrous Bush fiscal policies and the compliant coverage it’s been getting in the press. Here’s his recent piece on the budget just presented. This budget is massively fraudulent, simply leaving out information normally included in budgets whenever that information happens to be embarassing to the Bush Administration. But the Post doesn’t tell you that. Outrageous and impossible assertions are presented as if they make sense. (DeLong’s followup).

Finally, the Iraq intelligence fiasco. People who read the papers and have a memory that goes back two years know that the CIA was more cautious than the White House about connecting WMD and Al Qaeda to Saddam. At the time, the CIA was blamed harshly for this, and a free-lance amateur intelligence service was set up in Cheney’s office to doctor the evidence to administration specifications. (Slacktivist has collected the relevant stories here. And here’s a neo-com book arguing the previous administration line in great detail: Laurie Mylroie‘s “How the CIA and the State Department Tried to Stop the War on Terror”.)

The new story, though, is that the Bush Administration overestimated the Iraqi threat because it had been misled by the CIA– exactly the opposite of the truth! So many columnists have agreed upon exactly the same cover story that it’s difficult to believe that it hasn’t been a coordinated effort.

And here’s where we get to the interesting part. David Brooks, who used to be widely-respected as a conservative commentator, now works for the “liberal New York Times”. But here he simply repeats the Bush Administration spin on the intelligence fiasco, right on schedule.

Think about it. As a conservative ideologue, Brooks was not thought of as a partisan hack. But since he moved to the Times, he seems to have become one. (There are many other examples). Doesn’t this tell us that the fix is on, and that we are playing against the entire media — even the liberal New York Times? I really don’t think that there’s an innocent explanation for the major media’s failure to get these three stories right.

Oddly enough, there still are many don’t trust anything they read on the internet. (As I have said elsewhere, we are not gentlemen.) But there’s really been an inversion. Increasingly it’s the “reliable sources” which can’t be trusted.

PS: Maybe something’s changing. Here’s Dan Froomkin on the National Guard story. I’d love to be wrong about all this!