CNN reporter Richard Quest told police who stopped him last week that he had some meth in his pocket. And guess what? He did have some meth in his pocket, according to reports. So that may have been the most honest thing a TV news personality said all week.
Contrast Quest's refreshing candor with the chart Wolf Blitzer put up last week, purportedly to show the relative wealth of the Presidential candidates. And who's pictured on the leftmost side of the chart, signifying that he has the least money and is most like "regular folks"? Why, John McCain, even though his wife has more than $100 million in assets - money that generated even more revenue in interests and investment income. Bill Clinton's income was added to Hillary's, and Michelle Obama's was added to Barack's - but as far as CNN viewers were concerned, Maverick John was just trudging along on $400,000 a year or so.
Cindy McCain's income is invisible to CNN, but Bill Clinton's isn't. And the Clinton marriage remains the subject of tawdry speculation while the unsavory circumstances of the McCain courtship stays under wraps.
It gets worse. During CNN's grossly distorted presentation, Dana Bash falsely said that "John McCain donated about 26 percent of his income to charity (whereas) the Clintons gave 15 percent - and the Obamas, they gave 6 percent." Add in Cindy's wealth, of course, and those numbers change drastically. But CNN's viewers will never know. "Generous John," they'll think, "barely getting by - and yet giving so much."
This report came from the same Wolf Blitzer who edited footage in order to mislead viewers into thinking that McCain, after making a serious misstatement of fact about Iraq, corrected himself (he was really corrected by his congenial factotum, Joe Lieberman). Blitzer's move would have been seen as Orwellian if it had come from a government agency. But because our country has outsourced its thought control to private corporations, the manipulation somehow seems doesn't seem quite as frightening. It should be even more scary ...
It's unclear whether ideology, friendship, or other motives underlie deceptions like Blitzer's. It probably varies by reporter. What's important is that only reporters who practice these deceptions get the job. Here's a glimpse into the reasons why, as deftly summarized by Dana Milbank:
"John McCain and Barack Obama both appeared before the nation's newspaper editors yesterday. The putative Republican presidential nominee was given a box of doughnuts and a standing ovation. The likely Democratic nominee was likened to a terrorist."
It doesn't matter whether a reporter distorts the facts in favor of McCain out of ideological preference, or just because they like the guy. What matters is that only those reporters will get to cover the campaign - because the publishers making those decisions want the Republican to win.
Glenn Greenwald commented at length on this weekend's New York Times story - the one that showed that most TV military "experts" were being coordinated and manipulated by a Pentagon establishment that was feeding them lucrative contracts. Glenn says this is old news, and he's right - though I also understand the commenter who said we shouldn't try to "out-blasé" one another. But to me, the striking thing about David Barstow's Times article is the tawdry parade of "analysts" and network executives who claim they were deceived by the Pentagon propaganda machine. Those claims are disingenous.
And by "disingenous," of course, what I mean to say is: "total bullshit."
The analysts, executives, newspaper reporters, and television "personalities" (I can't bring myself to call them "reporters") go to the same parties, attend the same conferences, see each other on a daily basis. Execs and journos alike were well aware that guests like Jeffrey D. McCausland and John Garrett were feeding at the Pentagon trough. If any didn't know, they should resign immediately on the grounds of incompetence and irresponsibility. But they won't: U.S. news is the worst kind of conspiracy: a conspiracy of shared values and interests.
There is a clique of media execs, journalists, politicians, and co-opted "independent" experts. They sold America the war in Iraq, and now they're trying to sell it John McCain. And guess what? They'll probably succeed.
Those Democrats who think they're going to in November should take fair warning: The fix is in. The Conspiracy of Shared Values has chosen McCain, and they don't usually lose. The guy who was stopped in Central Park with the meth in his pocket was caught red-handed, so he came clean. But his colleagues are just going to keep on walking.