Pattern of deceit from JFK to ACORN ; Goldwater, Levin books ignored.
With the passing of Walter Cronkite, Mr. Brokaw is considered
perhaps the new “dean” of journalism. As such the former NBC News
anchor is periodically summoned forth to assess the current
world, an occasion that presented itself recently on the
venerable NBC Sunday newser Meet the Press.
Sitting cheek by jowl with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, Brokaw joined him to riff on the Internet and the state of journalism today, an opportunity occasioned by the resignation of Van Jones, he of the Truther brigades (and much more) and the Obama White House. Mr. Jones’ resignation was prompted by a virtual parade of videos and documents in which Jones, in his own words and deeds, presented himself as an overripe Marxist with a tendency to the nutty paranoia of the extreme left. This material was discovered by Fox commentator Glenn Beck, doubtless with an assist from citizens who had scanned the Internet, easily unearthing Jones’ ravings. One in particular was Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit.
The Meet the Press conversation with moderator David Gregory included the section below (from the transcript of the broadcast). It was prompted by the discussion of Mr. Jones’ resignation:
MR. BROKAW: Well, I’ve — one of the things I’ve been saying to audiences is this question comes up a lot, and a lot of people will repeat back to me and take it as face value something that they read on the Internet. And my line to them is you have to vet information. You have to test it the same way you do when you buy an automobile or when you go and buy a new flat-screen television. You read the Consumer Reports, you have an idea of what it’s worth and what the lasting value of it is. You have to do the same thing with information because there is so much disinformation out there that it’s frightening, frankly, in a free society that depends on information to make informed decisions. And this is across the board, by the way. It’s not just one side of the political spectrum or the other. It is across the board, David, and it’s something that we all have to address and it requires society and political and cultural leaders to stand up and say, “this is crazy.” We just can’t function that way.
Now, this is remarkable. Truly.
How to address the substance here? Perhaps a “letter to Tom Brokaw” format is most appropriate.
Dear Mr. Brokaw:
Recently you appeared on Meet the Press, discussing the issues of the day along with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman.
May I be candid?
You said that it was critical for people to “vet information… because there is so much disinformation out there that it’s frightening, frankly, in a free society that depends on information to make informed decisions.” Mr. Friedman then chimed in that the Internet is “an open sewer of untreated, unfiltered information.”
With respect, I’d like to recount some history — old and new — with what is called these days the “Old Media,” which is to say the three networks of ABC, CBS and your own home, NBC, and newspapers such as Mr. Friedman’s, the New York Times (and the Washington Post, the newsmagazines etc) The stories below, while notable, are only the tip of this particular iceberg. They address the issue you have raised, that a free society “depends on information to make informed decisions.”
* The President of the United States is known by the press who covers him — but not the public - to be, how shall I say, a womanizer. He is having, among his flings, a toss with a woman who is also the mistress of Chicago Mafia boss Sam Giancana. This at the same time the president’s brother, his former campaign manager, is Attorney General of the United States. Which is to say the head of the department of the executive branch charged with investigating the Mafia. Reporting from the Old Media? Zero. Zip. Mum’s the word. Not an ounce of curiosity about anything or anybody that would lead to a mindboggling tangle of scandal, conflict-of-interest and serious misjudgment by the two most prominent government officials of the day.. The American people are in fact never informed of any of this until all but the mistress are long dead, in spite of the fact that the President’s interests and his family’s Chicago connections were well known by those who covered him. How and why could such a gross violation of basic journalism happen? As the late Teddy White, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Making of the President series, put it, JFK’s “cultivation of the press colored all the reporting that came from the Kennedy campaign.” Not to mention the Kennedy presidency that followed.
* In 1963 CBS executive Fred Friendly and CBS commentator Eric Sevareid convince Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater to sit for a two-hour interview for a proposed CBS documentary called “The Conservative Revival.” Goldwater, wary that CBS was possessed of something he called “liberal bias,” hesitated. But persuaded that Friendly and Sevareid were, in Goldwater’s words, “gentlemen and men of their word,” he went ahead with the interview. The result? A show called “Thunder on the Right,” which focused on the John Birch Society, the Minutemen and, as Goldwater later delicately noted, other “far-right activists.” Which is to say, crazies. A thoughtful profile of the likes of William F. Buckley, Jr. this show was not. Goldwater appeared on screen only briefly, just long enough to link him with the Birchers, a group with which he had not only no connection but had actively opposed. Said a burned Goldwater afterwards: “In view of their conduct, I would never again accept the word of Friendly or Sevareid.”
* The year after JFK’s murder, a beautiful young woman named Mary Meyer, the wife separated from CIA official Cord Meyer, is found shot to death along a canal towpath in Georgetown. She is the sister-in-law of JFK’s close friend Ben Bradlee, then the Washington bureau chief of Newsweek, later famous as the executive editor of the Washington Post during Watergate. In the middle of this tragedy, Mr. Bradlee discovers an official from the CIA in his murdered sister-in-law’s home rummaging through her belongings. It happens a second time. Then Mr. Bradlee discovers the object sought by the CIA — Ms. Meyer’s secret diary. The diary tells the startling tale of 20-30 get-togethers for sex with Bradlee’s friend President Kennedy, where the two had occasion to smoke marijuana in between trysts. In the White House. Mr. Bradlee is stunned his buddy the president was sleeping with his own sister-in-law. He had no idea. Fair enough. But his reaction once he knew? To do his best to see that this explosive news story never sees the light of day, with the diary destroyed. In fact, the story does surface — years later when a source who had seen the diary tips off the National Enquirer — the National Enquirer! — and Mr. Bradlee ‘fesses up, very disturbed the story is out. He admits that, well, yes — the story is true. Every word of it. Coverage at the time any of this actually happened — which is to say the eve of the 1964 Johnson-Goldwater election? A point, you surely would agree, when Americans needed information to make what, in your words, would have been an “informed decision” on the Kennedy-Johnson administration record and also that of the Democratic candidate for Senator from New York — Robert Kennedy. Zero. Why? The story was in Bradlee’s hands — the hands of the Washington bureau chief for one of the most influential newsmagazines of the day — and, said he later: “I never for a minute considered reporting the discovery of the diary and its contents.
* On the verge of being nominated for president on the Republican ticket, Senator Barry Goldwater is, says CBS journalist Daniel Schorr, heading to Germany for a vacation after the GOP Convention. Germany? Why Germany? The trip was, said reporter Schorr, “a move by Senator Goldwater to link up” with the far right-wing of German politics. Meaning, of course, the Nazis. Goldwater would not only be consorting with these Nazis, he was scheduled to stay at Berchtesgaden, the infamous country estate of Adolf Hitler. In fact, Goldwater had no such plans. None. Zero. Zip. But it was a vivid story that successfully added a few brush strokes to the portrait the media and his opponents sought to create (as in the CBS “Thunder on the Right” documentary) that Barry Goldwater was a far-right wing extremist, a nut case. Said a still angry Goldwater decades later of the attempt to paint him as a Hitler-loving Nazi-sympathizer (Goldwater was a Major General in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and a World War Two veteran): “The CBS broadcast was false, and Schorr’s was the most irresponsible reporting I’ve witnessed in my life. The New York Times followed with an untrue account of its own.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?