Our St. Paul Peace Vigil paid tribute yesterday to Scotty-Come-Lately's admissions and received rousing honks from the 10,000 plus inquiring minds motoring beneath us. Obviously these four hard questions: "Who died?" Who lied?" "Who pays?" and "Who profits?" (originally inspired by a song by Emma's Revolution) provoked some thought. Or maybe it was just that perfect shade of pink that caught their attention.
In any event, it turns out very few Americans can answer any of these questions very well. Answers to (presumably the easiest) one: "Who died?" are even hard to come by. For instance by March 2008, the main stream media had done such a good job of keeping news about the Iraq War off the front page, that only 28 percent of Americans knew that 4,000 military personnel had been killed in the conflict, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
McClellan's book has actually opened a whole new category of answers to the "Who profits?" question. In addition to the Halliburton and Blackwater type companies, we now see that "tell all" book writers and enablers among the media can profit too. How many TV viewers caught the double hypocrisy yesterday in watching McClellan being grilled by Tim Russert as to whether McClellan intends to pocket all the proceeds of his book? Instead of stammering something about giving a portion of his book proceeds to support the troops, wouldn't it have been refreshing to hear McClellan shoot back a similar question as to whether Russert should consider doing some penance for his own war enabling? Wouldn't the ethical thing be for Russert to donate a portion of his own huge salary to Iraq veterans and other victims of the war?
While it probably will take many more insiders to write books before we have all the answers to the hard questions, I'll venture a guess that there's considerable overlap between the answers to the questions:"Who lied?" and "Who profits?"
So I'm going to try and learn something at the National Media Reform Conference being held in Minneapolis this coming weekend. But unless or until the Fourth Estate starts doing its job and telling the truth, it looks like we'll just have to keep painting these provocative banners and standing vigil.