Media Is the Key to Democracy
When senior Democrats, such as House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, explain why impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney is off the table, they cite their fears of hostility from the American news media.
On Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” on Dec. 20, Conyers said the U.S. news media has become such a problem that any Democratic attempt to hold the President and Vice President accountable might end up achieving the opposite result.
“There is a very stark reality that with the corporatization of the media, we could end up with turning people, who should be documented in history as making many profound errors and violating the Constitution, from villains into victims,” the Michigan Democrat said.
In Conyers’s view, it’s kind of Watergate in reverse. Instead of the old Washington press corps holding President Richard Nixon’s feet to the fire for his Watergate abuses, today’s careerist news media would treat the idea of accountability for Bush and Cheney like some kooky conspiracy theory.
While one can dismiss Conyers’s explanation as just another lame excuse from the timid Democratic leadership, there is an underlying reality here.
He’s probably right that the Washington press corps would hoot any serious impeachment drive against Bush and Cheney off the political stage.
The current right-tilted asymmetry of the American news media has made it difficult if not impossible to achieve any sustained accountability for any of the Bush-Cheney offenses. For instance, the Washington Post, which led the charge on Watergate, now leads the defense of Bush/Cheney for their role in exposing CIA officer Valerie Plame.
Another hard truth is that this U.S. media imbalance continues to worsen.
Day in/day out, year in/year out, the American Right pours billions and billions of dollars into its media apparatus, with Fox News starting a second network and Rupert Murdoch adding the Wall Street Journal to his empire, not to mention an endless array of well-financed outlets in radio, magazines, newspapers and the Internet.
Meanwhile, many American progressives and liberal foundations remain locked in a dogmatic resistance to investing seriously in media.
When I talk with wealthy progressives, they act as if building honest media is someone else’s responsibility.
They tell me that they want to put their money into either direct-action projects (like feeding the poor or buying up endangered wetlands) or into supporting regulatory efforts (like restricting money in politics or trying to reestablish government rules about media size and content).
While those endeavors might have some merit, the tragedy is that the progressives are passing up a great opportunity to use new openings created by the Internet to build powerful media institutions that can generate truthful information and establish some balance in the information reaching the public.
What We’ve Done
At Consortiumnews.com, we have been at this work for more than a dozen years. But we have been perpetually hindered by the refusal of large donors to offer any consistent support. That has undermined our ability to expand and to plan ahead.
We have relied on the generosity of our readers (who have been great), but the sums we have raised simply have been insufficient. That forced us to suspend regular publication in early 2000, just as that pivotal election year was beginning.
Though we managed to keep Consortiumnews.com going on a part-time basis over the next four years, we didn’t have the impact that we should have as George W. Bush took power and veered the nation off in a very dangerous direction.
In 2004, we resumed regular publication amid assurances from some well-to-do progressives that the need for strong media outlets was finally sinking in. But again, the support was spotty at best – and now has dried up completely.
So, that has left us relying again on our readers to achieve a bare-bones goal of $50,000 by the end of the year.
More than halfway through December, we have raised $14,000, with $36,000 to go.
If you have contributed, you have our undying thanks.
If you haven’t yet, please consider a tax-deductible donation either by credit card at the Web site or by check mailed to:
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For donations of $100 or more, we will send you an autographed gift copy of either our new book, Neck Deep, (in paperback) or one of my earlier books, Lost History or Secrecy & Privilege.
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Thanks for whatever help you can afford to give.
Simply put, there is no way to save the American Republic without a strong, independent and honest news media.
Robert Parry, Editor
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.
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