Monday, June 14, 2004

The Real Campaign Has Been Underway since 2000

I once had a colleague, an attorney, who explained to me that there are
no cases with bad facts. There are only cases with inconvenient facts.
He didn't consider it a lie to leave out the inconvenient facts. He
illustrated the proper handling of "inconvenient" facts by telling me,
for example, that he never wanted his secretary to have to lie on his
behalf, so, if a call came in from someone he didn't want to talk to,
he would step out of his office. She could then tell the caller that
he was not in his office. She would omit the inconvenient fact that he
was standing right behind her, not in his office, but in her cubicle.

I read a story in the Seattle Times this morning about so called
diplomats and military figures against Bush. The reporter on this story
must know my former colleague. While the story is full of
condemnations of Bush's policies, it is strangely silent on party
affiliations and connections of the speakers except one who says that
she is really, fundamentally a Republican. She says it in the way that
would make most investigators wonder what facts are being left out. Is
there a Democrat registration somewhere? Is there an appointment by a
Democrat president or Democrat administration?

What is more disturbing is that a very large part of the press has
almost completely abandoned their role as reporter and has, instead,
become advocates. Now it is not a good thing when an attorney sees his
or her role as advocate requiring a wholesale abandonment of the truth,
but at least when you step into a courtroom you know this person is an
advocate for a particular party. You expect him to be partisan and to
dwell on the facts that are favorable to his client. The press
masquerades as non-partisan. One can expect bias to creep in to any
reporting because we are all human. I fear, however, that the skew in
reporting has now gone far beyond that. I suspect that some in the
press think that they did not go far enough in 2000 as a consequence of
which, Al Gore lost. They do not intend to make that mistake this

George Bush with his millions in campaign funds is not just up against
the Democratic Party. He is up against a press corps that thinks it
has not only the right, but the duty to determine the outcome of the
next election by the way it filters the news. That possibility is
frightening because this is a cadre of people elected by no one and
accountable to no one, except, finally the consumer. When enough
consumers decide that they are tired of people who doctor the news,
this will stop. It is our job in the blogosphere and minority
(politically) press to bring that day about sooner rather than later.

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