Libby Trial Turns Into Tutorial On Bushco Press Manipulation

As if we didn’t already know.  Dick Cheney’s former communications director, a witness in the Scooter Libby trial, confirmed that the Bush administration did its best to freeze out unfriendly reporters and dump bad news late on Friday afternoons to bury it as quickly as possible.  And too many reporters just accepted whatever Bushco fed them without question — Tim Russert apparently being one of their favorite go-to guys.

Memo to Tim Russert: Dick Cheney thinks he controls you.

This delicious morsel about the “Meet the Press” host and the vice president was part of the extensive dish Cathie Martin served up yesterday when the former Cheney communications director took the stand in the perjury trial of former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Flashed on the courtroom computer screens were her notes from 2004 about how Cheney could respond to allegations that the Bush administration had played fast and loose with evidence of Iraq’s nuclear ambitions. Option 1: “MTP-VP,” she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under “pro,” she wrote: “control message.”

“I suggested we put the vice president on ‘Meet the Press,’ which was a tactic we often used,” Martin testified. “It’s our best format.”

Folks around the blogosphere have been saying this for years, and I guess it’s nice — in a sad way — to hear it confirmed by a Cheney minion.  The ongoing consolidation of our corporate media leads to reporters who are afraid to ask the hard questions for fear of angering those in power.  Rock the boat too much, and you may find yourself out of a job, with nowhere else to go.  After all, the newspaper or TV/radio station down the street is likely owned, or soon to be bought, by the same people who just fired you.  I guess it’s easier, and safer, to sit back and let the wholly-owned corporate politicians manipulate you — and the story.

The slow demise of an independent press is just another casualty of a society where the political leadership protects corporate interests to the exclusion of almost all else and the general public is too busy watching American Idol or following the latest celebrity scandal to pay attention to what’s happening around them.  It’s time to wake up, people.

For more on the dangers of media consolidation, watch Bill Moyers’ speech at the recent National Conference for Media.

6 Responses to “Libby Trial Turns Into Tutorial On Bushco Press Manipulation”

  1. Bill says:

    Yeah, but is Britney really going into rehab? Is K-Fed going to get custody? I mean tell me something I care about….

  2. Tricia says:

    Or they’re, you know, actually having to struggle to get by and don’t have the energy left for anything else. Say, when the assholes who’ve been buying and selling the company they work for cancel their f****** insurance without notice and/or suddenly decide that employees with 10 or more years of experience are temps who might not qualify for benefits at all…

    And these guys were supposed to be an “improvement” over the last ones.

    I do realize that you were being sarcastic, but it needs to be remembered that not everyone has the financial or emotional resources to hang out on blogs and hear about this stuff…

  3. Kathy says:

    “I do realize that you were being sarcastic, but it needs to be remembered that not everyone has the financial or emotional resources to hang out on blogs and hear about this stuff… “

    That’s true, Tricia, which makes it even more of a problem that the mainstream media doesn’t report the real news. I think most people take a few minutes every day to catch the local newscast or look at the paper, but we’re not likely to get much information that way anymore.

    And if that’s your personal situation you’re talking about, I’m so sorry.  That sucks. 

  4. Tom Hilton says:

    I can’t believe this comes as a surprise to any of the Washington press corps types…unless they’re completely, fatally self-deluding…

  5. Kathy says:

    Tom, I’m guessing it’s a combination of fear, laziness, and a little self-delusion. How could they live with themselves if they didn’t engage in some major rationalization?

  6. Tricia says:

    Not me, but my sister and her husband (not to mention their kids). It’s infuriating… and depressing…

    You’re dead on about the local news — that’s actually how I found your blog. Trying to find coverage of Patricia Todd’s campaign. There certainly wasn’t anything on TV beyond a soundbite or two, and barely anything more in the local paper.

    There was actually more national coverage than local (which still isn’t saying much), and then of course the liberal and GLBT friendly blogs.

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