In the upcoming issue of Newsweek, senior editor Jonathan Alter suggests that the tactics of the Bush administration have acted to lessen democracy in America.
In a piece entitled, “The Price of Loyalty is Incompetence,” Alter states, “The same president who seeks democracy, transparency and dissent in Iraq is irritated by it at home.” The premise of the article is that Bush and Company require rubberstamps of approval from all who work in the administration without any dissent if one wants to continue to be part of the team:
As ABC, CBS, and NBC all dived into live coverage today to report the indictment of Vice President Cheney's top aide Scooter Libby, this is not at all the way the networks covered indictments of cabinet officers in the Clinton years.
In September 1997, we reported in Media Watch that when former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy was indicted on 39 counts, the networks aired a single evening news story. Three of the four networks -- ABC, CNN, and NBC -- underlined that the Smaltz inquiry had so far cost $9 million. None of them noted civil penalties originating from targets of Smaltz's inquiry amounted to more than $3.5 million. The next morning, CBS's morning show, called CBS This Morning, didn't even mention Espy's indictment. Months later, I noted in a Media Reality Check that on December 11, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros was indicted on 18 counts for misleading the FBI about payoffs to a mistress, Linda Medlar. NBC Nightly News filed one story; ABC's World News Tonight gave it 18 seconds. CBS Evening News didn't arrive on the story until the next night, and gave it nine seconds, a fraction of the two minutes Dan Rather gave the nightly El Nino update, about the weather "giving a gentle lift to the monarch butterfly." The morning shows were worse: NBC's Today passed on two anchor briefs, and ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning ignored it.
A Newsweek article written by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball currently posted at MSNBC.com once again offered the view that the Bush administration lied to journalists about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify the March 2003 invasion:
“Oct. 19, 2005 - The lengthy account by New York Times reporter Judy Miller about her grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case inadvertently provides a revealing window into how the Bush administration manipulated journalists about intelligence on Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.”
To bolster their view, Isikoff and Hosenball cited the opinion of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:
“The assertion that still-secret material would bolster the administration’s claims about Iraqi WMD was ‘certainly not accurate, it was not true,’ says Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who coauthored a study last year, titled ‘A Tale of Two Intelligence Estimates,’ about different versions of the NIE that were released. If Miller’s account is correct, Libby was ‘misrepresenting the intelligence’ that was contained in the document, she said.”
Yet, like many journalists that have used CEIP as a reference, Isikoff and Hosenball neglected to inform their readers that CEIP wasn’t always so convinced about the absence of WMD in Iraq. In fact, Eric Pfeiffer of National Journal’s “Hotline” wrote about this very issue in a January 2004 op-ed for National Review:
Even though the big news event this week was the president’s nomination of Harriet Miers to replace retiring justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, NBC’s Chris Matthews this morning, on a show that bears his name, chose to lead with Karl Rove’s upcoming testimony in front of a grand jury. To assist him, Matthews stocked his panel with the likes of Andrea Mitchell, Clarence Page, Judy Woodruff, and a lone “conservative” voice, Howard Fineman.
Of course, when Howard is the sole “right-wing” member of a panel, you’re certainly not going to get a fair and balanced discussion on any issue. As a result, what ensued was quite a Rove bash-a-thon, with dire prognostications of what the meaning of this fourth appearance in front of the grand jury could mean for Rove as well as the Bush administration.
In one of Newsweek’s online chats, political reporter Howard Fineman is floored by the hard-left harangues the chatters are offering up. (It’s par for the course for this site, but let’s hope Fineman doesn’t think of this gang as representative of public opinion in general. It might be representative of Newsweek subscribers in general.) The headline: Fineman’s circle thinks the GOP is toast in ‘06, and a little puzzled that Newsweek is being mistaken for a Republican shill sheet :
Las Cruces, NM: Why are there not calls for Mr. Bush's resignation or impeachment?...Could there be a public referendum—an open election with no Republican-led Electoral College—by the people, for the country's future? Howard Fineman: I've been hearing impeachment stuff for a few months or more now. I doubt that it will come to that, but the consensus here now is that the Repubs are going to get whacked next year.
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter launched a vicious attack, on Congressman Tom DeLay's ideology, in this week's magazine. Promoting it, on Monday's Imus in the Morning on MSNBC, he charged that "it's the first time in 200 years that the House of Representatives has been run for a whole decade, or almost a decade, by a corrupt zealot." That matched the language in his one-page piece, "Tom DeLay's House of Shame," in which he contended: "I have no idea if DeLay has technically broken the law. What interests me is how this moderate, evenly divided nation came to be ruled on at least one side of Capitol Hill by a zealot." The pull-out quote in the hard copy edition, and the subhead online, read: "Congress has always had its share of extremists. But the DeLay era is the first time the fringe has ever been in charge." Alter maintained that "the only reason the House hasn't done even more damage is that the Senate often sands down the most noxious ideas, making the bills merely bad, not disastrous."
Newsweek's Howard Fineman and Eleanor Clift could hardly contain their excitement over the "Power Outage" of the Republican Party. (Oct. 10 Issue). Indeed, by the time the first paragraph was finished, the GOP "Leadership" (put in quotes by Newsweek) was described as one that supposedly promotes a feeling of "awe and fear" by the "flock," the members not in the "Leadership." The meeting of "The Leadership" was dark and secretive enough to be analogously compared to the Baath Party:
"In the Tom DeLay era—now at least temporarily ended—a meeting of the House Republican Conference usually was a ceremonial affair, at which "Leadership" (always a single word, spoken with a mixture of awe and fear) clued in the flock on Done Deals. The proceedings had the spontaneity of a Baath Party conclave."
In an article entitled “The Time is Right,” Newsweek used an interview with long-time feminist activist Marie Wilson to hype a Hillary Clinton presidency as well as ABC’s new series about a female president, “Commander in Chief.” Newsweek set the piece up by referring to a possible Hillary-Condi matchup in 2008. However, Wilson is never asked what she thinks of the second female Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, which certainly would have been a natural question for a woman who is president of the White House Project, a non-profit organization designed to assist the advancement of women in the workplace and in politics. Instead, the only female politician discussed with Wilson was indeed the junior senator from New York.
As for ABC’s new series, Newsweek and Wilson made it very clear what the intention of this show is (Newsweek’s questions in bold):