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Thursday, June 16, 2005 

A good feeling

Watching the Conyers hearings today, I couldn't help getting pumped up. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but it just seems like this thing has finally achieved critical mass. The panel was terrific:

Joe Wilson provided a detailed breakdown of the Niger uranium claim, probably the best single example of the administration's misuse of intelligence and utter disregard for the truth.

Cindy Sheehan put a human face on the issue with her incredibly moving testimony about her son who was killed in action in Iraq.

Ray McGovern delivered a scathing indictment of the Bush administration's corruption of our intelligence agencies, pointing in particular to Cheney's numerous "visits" to the CIA. Anyone who has ever worked under a domineering boss could relate.

John Bonifaz provided a legal framework for understanding what the DSM shows and that, even as things stand today, it represents more than adequate grounds for a Resolution of Inquiry so the House can begin hearings into whether the administration lied to Congress and the American people.

But what was most encouraging was the number of US Representatives who took the time to attend and participate in the hearing, even if only between votes taking place upstairs. The tiny room was packed (a much larger room was available, but the House leadership wouldn't let Conyers use it). There were half a dozen TV cameras and journalists craned their necks to get a view of people speaking.

Just for kicks I checked our site stats as the hearing progressed--we were getting almost one visit every second, and at 27,000 for the day we're already well above our average. But these numbers don't mean nearly as much as the 540,000 signature Conyers got on his letter, or the 122 reps who have now signed on as well.

As Congressman Conyers said in his closing, this is only the beginning of our work. Much more remains to be done. But right now, I feel better about our prospects for getting it done than I have, well, ever.

Watching the Hearing...

.. we here on the team are glued to our screens watching Rep. Conyers and company rock! A comprehensive report coming when the hearing is concluded.

What's wrong with the media: a microcosm

Today I was interviewed by our local CBS affiliate (KPIX, SF Bay Area) for a story about what are now collectively being called the "Downing Street Memos." Watching the report on the 11 o'clock news, I realized I was seeing the two greatest failings of the mainstream media being played out before my eyes.

The first is as old as the press itself: sensationalism. The report focused only on the splashiest quotes from the series of UK documents and failed to explain them in any detail. While I was inwardly pleased to see things like, "it seems like a grudge between Bush and Saddam" in big letters on my TV screen, I realized that this wasn't going to tell people what they needed to know. Phrases like that might sell ad space, but they don't necessarily inform people.

The larger problem, however, was how the report allowed inaccurate statements to go unchallenged in the interest of "balance". In my interview, I noted that no one in either the Bush or Blair administrations has denied the various documents' authenticity. This is a fact. But the "other perspective", provided on the broadcast by a local GOP operative, suggested that the provenance of the memos was dubious, saying that they should be regarded as in the same vein as Dan Rather's memos.

To anyone who follows the news this statement is, at best, hyperbolic. At worst, it's misleading, but don't count on your local evening news to tell you that. My comments didn't make the final cut, but Mr. Memogate's did--unchallenged.

This he said/she said type of journalism is, unfortunately, the only variety the major news outlets are willing to practice anymore. They don't seek truth--they just put up two opposing views and leave the viewer to decide whose story fits their preconceptions better. The reporter could easily have asked my foil to explain why, if the memos were faked, no one at the meetings they documented has said so. Would it reveal a "liberal bias" to ask for clarification in light of established facts?

If calling people on their bullshit makes me a liberal, then color me blue.


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