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.