When a former right-wing White House press secretary starts talking about the “deferential” corporate media abdicating its responsibility in the run-up to the Iraq occupation, then we know just how silly the liberal media myth has become even in conservative circles.
Locally, it makes your wonder where The Oklahoman fits into the new working rubric of the conservative, ultra-conservative and extreme, right-wing propagandistic corporate media. (Answer: It helps define the propagandistic category.)
Former Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who worked in the Bush administration, has published a book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception. In the book, he criticizes the administration’s “propaganda campaign” in the months before the Iraq invasion. He also claims he was misled by Bush officials in the Valerie Plame controversy.
But as Salon.com blogger Glenn Greenwald and others have pointed out the most damaging part of the book is the criticism leveled at the corporate media, the “deferential, complicit enablers” of the Bush propaganda campaign to invade Iraq. This is really nothing new, of course, but the fact a famous Republican political operative has acknowledged the obvious is worth noting.
It should always be stressed that people throughout the country and world noted the White House lies and deceptions about the Iraq before the invasion and spoke out at great risk to their careers. Unfortunately, this did not include the country’s leading corporate media outlets, which include all the major television networks, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
McClellan’s views were so disturbing to the elite media bigwigs that all three major news anchors, Katie Couric, Charles Gibson and Brian Williams, appeared together on a recent Today show to discuss the issue. Couric, to her credit, admitted the media failed to do its job, but Gibson and Williams followed the corporate mantra. Bush loyalists, of course, launched a typical smear campaign against McCellan, but it didn’t stick.
All this follows recent revelations about how the Bush Pentagon had a program to encourage retired military generals to support the invasion and occupation on television news shows. This was first reported by The Times. Greenwald has led the way in showing how this propaganda deception was helped along by the networks.
At some point this country needs to conduct a painful but necessary investigation of all the Imperial Bush lies and how the corporate media not only disseminated these lies but also aided and abetted in some cases one of the biggest deceptions ever perpetuated on the American people. I think of the disgraced Judith Miller, who printed false accusations about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction in the The Times. All this needs to be vetted and brought to light for the sake of the country’s democratic structures.
But I want to take the furor over McClellan and the Iraq occupation and look at it briefly from a local level. Most people today have lost trust in the corporate media for good reason. The Oklahoman, considered the most right-wing metropolitan newspaper in the country, is a publication that not only participated in disseminating Bush lies about Iraq but relentlessly supported these lies year after year on its ultra-conservative editorial page. It continues to do so. Here is a critique of one of its pro-occupation editorials. Here is a critique of its right-wing blogger Kevin Calvey.
This is important for several reasons. The Oklahoman is the largest newspaper in the state. Many state news outlets, including television stations, follow its lead in covering local and even national stories. The owners of the newspaper, the Gaylord family, are influential state power brokers who influence political decisions here on a regular basis. Even the football stadium at the University of Oklahoma—Gaylord Family Stadium—is named after the family who has printed and supported lie after lie of the Imperial Bush, even adding their own lies about the worth of the Iraq occupation.
Now, remember, McClellan is a right-winger exposing the so-called “liberal media” for how it helped the Imperial Bush deceive the American people. In essence, McClellan argues there is no such thing as a liberal corporate media, which is absolutely true. It has always been a silly myth promoted by right-wing radio hosts, think tanks and the Republican Party. So, then, how conservative does that make The Oklahoman? Can it even fit into a definition, given McClellan’s claims, of a “conservative newspaper”? I think not. The newspaper’s political coverage is truly and absolutely propaganda, not just in a name-calling sense, and Oklahomans have slogged through it for decades.
And, yes, there is an “art” to propaganda, and, in this sense, The Oklahoman is a great triumph. It has shifted the definition of political centrist so far to the right and has allowed its disingenuous Washington, D.C. “correspondents” to lie about the national political scene for so long that its deceptive rhetorical structure has become ingrained in the state’s psyche and history. The paper’s editorial page never allows full dissenting views to its constant stream of lies. McClellan’s book, on a local level, shows just how far out of the mainstream The Oklahoman remains despite its new look.
As I have mentioned before, The Oklahoman would make a great case study in the technique of contemporary American propaganda. Maybe some enterprising journalism scholars at the University of Oklahoman could write a book about it. The only problem is they work at the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The family, see, has even bought off those who might fully critique its media empire for the constant deceptions it tries to pass off as mainstream conservatism.
(You want to know why you have lousy health insurance or no health insurance? Watch this exclusive Okie Funk video. Turn up the speakers.)
The health care system in this country is broken, and it needs massive and sustained reform.
When Democrats and Republicans joined together recently to vote to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) from $5 billion to $35 billion over five years, they did so out of this pressing and vital need. The bill’s underlying philosophy is that we, as Americans, should at least take care of our children in terms of health care so they can thrive and become our future.
Many working people these days cannot afford health insurance. Those who can afford it often pay exorbitant co-payments and deductibles. Most Americans, even those with health insurance, are one major medical crisis away from financial ruin. Many working Americans go without adequate health care because it is simply too expensive.
The American health care system is based on feeding the greed of many doctors, insurance companies and health management organizations. European models of health care have proven to be much more successful than our system. They are less expensive and provide better care to their patients. Doctors in European countries are also well compensated.
Yet Imperial President George Bush, with support from his warmongering cabal of right-wing extremists, vetoed the bill on purely ideological grounds despite wide majority support. The bill, according to the president, could lead to socialized medicine. Note the word “could.” There is nothing in the bill, which simply insures more children, that argues for socialized medicine or universal health care. There is no trick here, no gimmick. People need health care. SCHIP is a program that helps people ensure their children. The program’s expansion would mean more children qualify for help.
Consider this: Taxpayers spend more in three months for the Iraq occupation than they would spend over five years for this one program. (Look at this site for more comparisons.)
The Oklahoma Congressional delegation voted against SCHIP, of course, on the same ideological grounds as the president they so adore. The Daily Oklahoman has relentlessly editorialized their support for the veto. To his credit, U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, the only Democrat in the delegation, has said he will now reverse course and vote to override the veto in the House. The House will vote on the veto override tomorrow, but the effort is expected to fail. There are apparently enough votes in the Senate to override Bush’s callous disregard for basic humanity.
But should we blame just the politicians? Bush’s veto, if sustained, will go down in historical infamy, for sure, but it also will be remembered as the one event that clearly showed Americans lost their moral foundation at the turn of the twenty-first century. We deny our children adequate health care, test them relentlessly under No Child Left Behind, leave them massive financial deficits, and make them grow up under the philosophy of endless war. That is who we have become under the Imperial Presidency of George Bush.
(Update: The House fell 13 votes short Thursday of overriding Bush's veto)
(Check out this little flash movie we put together here at Okie Funk. Be sure to turn up your speakers. Also, play a new game based on U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe's most famous outrageous quotes. Shoutout to Crooks and Liars for the link!)
Okie Funk has been calling for the impeachment of President George Bush for literally years now, and it continues to support all political efforts that would remove both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney from office.
Only through such a formal, legal act as impeachment can the structures of our democracy be preserved for future generations. As it stands now, the entire democratic structure of American government has been changed by the Bush administration. Bush or any future president can now rule through imperial-like decrees and commit consistent illegal acts.
Republicans who still support Bush and the ideals of democracy should remember the president’s term is almost over. What would prevent a future Democratic president, such as Hillary Clinton, from assuming power under the new rubric of the imperial presidency? The impeachment of Bush/Cheney in all reality should be non-partisan.
Here are Bush’s most obvious impeachable offices: (1) He committed fraud when he lied and ordered or allowed his surrogates to lie to the American people about the reasons for invading Iraq. (2) He continues to sanction the torture of prisoners in American custody. This violates American law and the Geneva Conventions. (3) He sanctioned the illegal wiretapping of millions of innocent American citizens.
Beyond the legal offenses, Bush has been a disaster as president. His execution of the illegal Iraq invasion and subsequent occupation has been relentlessly incompetent, leading to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent American and Iraqi people. He has blocked basic medical advancements to appease this country’s religious fundamentalists. He refuses to deal with the country’s serious domestic problems, such as shoddy, expensive health care and stagnant wages.
He has caused great damage to our country’s military, made the United States a reviled nation throughout the world and squandered billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars.
Yet impeachment has always been a larger issue that transcends the mediocrity of an individual president. If we, as a country, allow Bush’s impeachable offenses to go unpunished in some formal manner (censure could be another avenue to explore), then these illegal actions will be codified in law. Presidents in the future will be allowed to wage unilateral wars based on fraudulent claims and order their operatives to secretly wiretap, arrest, imprison, torture and murder. Fascist government, then, could eventually become “normalized,” perhaps even supported by people more interested in the nonsense of Paris Hilton’s latest spectacle than current government policy or even their children’s futures.
If we do not at least try to impeach Bush and Cheney for such obvious illegal offenses will it mean then impeachment is no longer a viable alternative for Americans when faced with a tyrannical president? Is impeachment only reserved for minor sex scandals? What type of country have we become under Bush and his corporate media lapdogs, who report his lies without question?
The impeachment process will be messy, and most corporate media outlets will not support it because it will show once again their own immoral culpability in the rise of the tyrannical imperial presidency. But the Democratic-controlled Congress needs to go through with it. They should do it for the sole reason of preserving the country’s democratic structures. This is not about politics. This is about saving our democracy.