Friday, October 14, 2005



  NEWS DISSECTOR October 14, 2005

Keep the Faith, Baby



I did some atoning and complaining last night, surviving a day without e-mail in the fleeting hope that we can easily fix the technical and other problems confronting and confounding MediaChannel. It is an uphill battle. At points, we felt like we were fighting a losing war against a faceless enemy of hackers, zombies and bots that refuse to communicate except through nihilism.

Please indulge me: We are in the process of seeking financial support and grants to keep MediaChannel alive. To that end, we are reworking our mission statements (see below) and proposals. Our present plan/hope is to turn readers into members because the site will only survive the long run if we all share the responsibility of sustaining and promoting it.

Toward that end, I welcome your written endorsements of our work in a form I can show funders, as well as your own ideas for moving forward. What can we be doing better? How can we best involve our community in strengthening our site and network? What are our strengths and weaknesses? How can we find new allies? Think about it. And get back to us, please.


I am off to London tonight on my frequent flyer miles for two screenings of WMD and in hopes of finding support overseas. If you live there, please come by and say hullo. If you have friends there, pass the word on.


Nonprofit work such as ours is often a work of faith, where you fly on a wing and a prayer. That’s why I was so fascinated by the report that it was God who told President Bush to invade Iraq.

I would love to see that as a defense in a court of law, a "God Made Me Do It" defense. The only people who got away with that were the Blues Brothers when they were on their "mission from God."


Marl Moroford (?) of the San Francisco Chronicle speculated this week on what “God Really Told Bush:"

Scene: White House private residence, night, not long ago. President Bush present in his most favorite guns 'n' bunnies PJs. Laura asleep, knocked out by a combination of too much Good Housekeeping and excessive hair-spray fumes. Suddenly, a burst of black smoke. A deep, resonant voice speaks:

"Psst! George! God here, taking a break from supervising the well-being of eight billion troubled souls along with infinite galaxies of unimaginable vastness to speak with you directly one more time because, well, you're special, aren't you, George? Yes you are! Yes you are! OK, stop giggling. I have more commands. Get off the damn hobbyhorse, George, and get a pen and a notepad. No, not a crayon. I don't care if blue is your favori -- George! Get a pen! OK? Good. Here we go:

"As you know, I'm not quite what everyone thinks. I am not all benevolence and love and light. In fact, I have a downright dark side, mean and nasty and cunning, and I want you, George, to continue to be my special right-hand man. My special little guy. In fact, you shall help enact my wrath, Dubya. Doesn't that sound fun?

"There are three things I love, George: war, revenge, suffering. Oh, and smiting the heathens. OK, four things. And kickboxing. Five things. There are five things I love, Dubya. You with me? And you and your demon monkeys are enacting the first four admirably, George. Don't be shy, go ahead and tell those Palestinian officials you were commanded by God to 'restore peace' in the Middle East by bombing nearly defenseless, pip-squeak Iraq and Afghanistan to smithereens. They love that stuff.


If that’s one twist on a common narrative, here’s another. It's from Michael Gaddy, the father of a soldier just back from Iraq. He writes:

“Please Don’t Support My Troop”

I have a personal request for all of you George W. Bush supporters and Christian warhawks: please do not support my troop. I have visions and aspirations of having him around, seeing him settle down and start a family at some point, and being near as I grow older. Your support would mean that he would be sent back to this war started and continued on lies to become a target for those who would rather live their lives without the interference of a foreign, empire-seeking, new-world-order, invader.


Politics is also about culture, and American culture is being twisted and changed in the fulcrum of all the polarization we have experienced. Sam Smith, a writer
I admire, delves into this in a must-read essay in his Progressive Review:

Thomas Jefferson saw it coming. He warned, "From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our right shall revive or expire in a convulsion."

Among the conceits of our elite and media is the assumption that America, in the form that they wish to imagine it, is immortal. Part of this is the arrogance of the big, part comes from an admirable if naïve faith in progress, part of it is pathological delusion. For a host of reasons, beginning with our own survival, it is long past time to permit the question to be raised: is America collapsing as a culture?

It is easy to forget that history is strewn with the rubble of collapsed civilizations, entropic remains of once sturdy cultures, societies we now remember only thanks to a handful artifacts guarded in museums.


Now, back to Washington and the great guessing game.

Who is about to take a fall -- and for what? At the New York Times, the debate about Judith Miller is as intense as it always was. A Times reporter reminded me that Miller once wrote for the Progressive and appeared on Pacifica’s WBAI radio. Many there didn't like her or respect her track record, even before the Iraq debacle.

Many are hoping that her account, when it finally appears (as early as this weekend), will restore her reputation and the reputation of her newspaper. Some fear that many on the right -- and the left as well -- hope this controversy will weaken the paper even more.

The debate about Miller’s role is only a sideshow to the many rumors about who was involved in Plamegate and where it might lead once indictments are returned, if they are.

Justin Raimondo thinks he knows:

It isn't generally known that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff -- now revealed as New York Times reporter Judith Miller's source in the Plame affair -- is a novelist, as well as a policymaker. Aside from being a co-author of the Bush administration's narrative of "weapons of mass destruction" and Iraq's alleged links to al-Qaeda -- a story that turned out to be a fable -- he is also the author of The Apprentice, published in 1996, a novel set against the backdrop of the Russo-Japanese war.

Unlike Lynne Cheney and Richard Perle, whose literary efforts in this vein have garnered less than stellar reviews, Libby appears to have some genuine talent as a fabulist. "As a work of prose, The Apprentice is easily the best of all neo-conservative novels ever written," writes the journalist Jeet Heer, adding: "A dismal compliment, you could say, given the competition.

Still, Libby has written a strong first novel that convincingly re-creates an exotic world." Since becoming the vice president's chief adviser and confidante, however, Libby has had little time to indulge his artistic imagination. In a profile of Libby published in the National Journal at the beginning of Bush's first term, he said:

"I try to stay up somewhat with fiction. I am looking forward to writing again some day. But the job is pretty demanding, and I haven't been progressing very
far on the next novel."

It could be that Libby will have plenty of time to work on his next novel in the very near future -- that is, if federal prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has anything to say about it. A stretch in prison could very well give Libby the space to hone his literary talent and fulfill his promise as the foremost neocon novelist -- a possibility that seems increasingly likely.

. 3D8690


The Financial Times' Guy Dinmore reports:

Conservatives and exiles desert war campaign

Even among the strongest advocates in Washington of the war in Iraq there is a sense of alarm these days, with harsh criticism directed particularly at the draft constitution, which they see as a betrayal of principles and a recipe for disintegration of the Iraqi state.

Expressions of concern among conservatives and former Iraqi exiles, seen also in the rising disillusionment of the American public, reflect a widening gap with the Bush administration and its claims of "incredible political progress" in Iraq.

Over the past week, two of Washington's most influential conservative think-tanks, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation, held conferences on Iraq where the mood among speakers, including Iraqi officials, was decidedly sombre.


BBC reports:

A U.K. lawyer who helped free the Guildford Four in 1989 is joining the legal team to defend ex-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on mass murder charges. Anthony Scrivener QC joins the defence for the Iraqi-run trial, which is due to start at a secret location next week, the BBC's Newsnight has learned.


Bill Arkin reports in his blog distributed by the Washington Post:

The Joint Chiefs of Staff has quietly halted preparation of a new nuclear weapons doctrine, pre-empting Congressional protests over the document's portrayal of potential nuclear first strikes against terrorists and adversaries like Iran or North Korea.

A draft Senate letter addressed to President Bush and intercepted by this blogger expresses "deep concern about the draft U.S. nuclear weapons doctrine."

And I save the worst for last:


A flu pandemic could happen at any time and kill between 5-150 million people, a UN health official has warned. David Nabarro, who is charged with coordinating responses to bird flu, said a mutation of the virus affecting Asia could trigger new outbreaks. "It's like a combination of global warming and HIV/Aids 10 times faster than it's running at the moment," Dr. Nabarro told the BBC.

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Our Media At Work


TOM OREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of political tension here in Washington and bloodshed over in Iraq. Two important issues at this point. A U.S. soldier was killed today in the latest roadside bombing outside Baghdad despite stepped up security before Saturday's vote on a proposed constitution there.

President Bush set the stage for that vote today in a highly choreographed video hookup with U.S. forces in Iraq. Our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux has more on that event and these very big stakes for Mr. Bush -- Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tom, of course, there's a lot of discussion over the videoconference that took place because of a rehearsal that took place before that. For many of us who cover these White House events, that is nothing new. These are hand-picked audiences when he goes before to speak to people, the format is highly rehearsed, they're not spontaneous events.

But Tom, what makes today's so unusual is that you, me, and many of our viewers get a chance to see a rehearsal actually taking place. You're looking at a satellite feed. And it really pulls back the curtain, if you will. You see U.S. troops actually being fielded questions that are expected by the president, practicing the responses.

There are 10 American soldiers as well, an Iraqi official in Tikrit that are running through this kind of dress rehearsal of the video conference, if you will. And what you're hearing is a senior Pentagon official, Allison Barber, who is prompting their responses. Let's take a quick listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (@0:04:48.0 ): The president will open up with some remarks. He's going to kind of shape this discussion today by highlighting the importance of what you're doing, by letting you know how much the American people appreciate your hard work, and how important this vote on Saturday is to the process in Iraq. And so you'll hear him shape those comments today.

MALVEAUX: So Tom, not surprisingly, what we heard in the conference following that shortly after, the president asking the questions that were very much anticipated. How are things going in Iraq? How are you working with the Iraqi people when it comes to trying to vote on that constitution in the days ahead?

Now, the White House initially said that this was an unscripted event, that it was a chance for the president to ask kind of Q and A, back and forth, with the troops, and they seemed generally caught off- guard when they got a lot of questions in the briefing early today, as well as some criticism over this event. But the White House was unapologetic.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is an event where there's coordination that goes on, and we work closely with the Department of Defense. They work to pull together some troops for the president to visit with and highlight important topics that are going on right now on the ground in Iraq.

The president's going to continue speaking out what we're working to achieve in Iraq, and he's going to continue talking about the vital mission that we're working to achieve there. (END VIDEO CLIP)




THOMAS: What does the President mean by "total victory" -- that we will never leave Iraq until we have "total victory"? What does that mean?

McCLELLAN: Free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East, because a free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a major blow to the ambitions --

THOMAS: If they ask us to leave, then we'll leave?

McCLELLAN: I'm trying to respond. A free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the broader Middle East will be a major blow to the ambitions of al Qaeda and their terrorist associates. They want to establish or impose their rule over the broader Middle East -- we saw that in the Zawahiri letter that was released earlier this week by the intelligence community.

THOMAS: They also know we invaded Iraq.

McCLELLAN: Well, Helen, the President recognizes that we are engaged in a global war on terrorism. And when you're engaged in a war, it's not always pleasant, and it's certainly a last resort. But when you engage in a war, you take the fight to the enemy, you go on the offense. And that's exactly what we are doing. We are fighting them there so that we don't have to fight them here. September 11th taught us --

THOMAS: It has nothing to do with -- Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

McCLELLAN: Well, you have a very different view of the war on terrorism, and I'm sure you're opposed to the broader war on terrorism. The President recognizes this requires a comprehensive strategy, and that this is a broad war, that it is not a law enforcement matter.

MORAN: On what basis do you say Helen is opposed to the broader war on terrorism?

McCLELLAN: Well, she certainly expressed her concerns about Afghanistan and Iraq and going into those two countries. I think I can go back and pull up her comments over the course of the past couple of years.

MORAN: And speak for her, which is odd.

McCLELLAN: No, I said she may be, because certainly if you look at her comments over the course of the past couple of years, she's expressed her concerns --

THOMAS: I'm opposed to preemptive war, unprovoked preemptive war.

McCLELLAN: -- she's expressed her concerns.


The other day, I commented on 60 Minutes' selling of former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s new book. The Nation's David Corn has some thoughts on that, too.

Freeh's Next Book

I was called to service this weekend to defend Bill Clinton, in a way. After news broke on Friday that former FBI director Louis Freeh had written a book in which he lambasted Clinton for being a moral reprobate and for forcing the FBI to waste its time on investigations targeting him, Fox News rang and asked if I would discuss the book on air. Talking about books I haven't read is one of my favorite pastimes. I said yes. After all, enough facts about the book's contents had leaked that would easily fuel a four-minute segment. (Give me an hour of airtime, then I'll read the book.)

My tactic, of course, was not to praise Clinton. Where's the news, I noted on air, in questioning Clinton's internal moral guidance system? "Everyone knows his moral compass pointed south," I said. I quickly added, "Pun not intended." But then I amended my remarks: "Okay, pun intended." Due to a technical glitch, I couldn't really hear my debating opponent -- a Las Vegas talk show host named Heidi Harris, whom I've never heard of -- but I think she said something like, "Oh my," and laughed. Best I could tell Harris was upset with Freeh for writing any sort of tell-all book because she apparently doesn't like tell-all books, period.

The big news, so to speak, in Freeh's book -- which had a 60 Minutes launch on Sunday night (is CBS trying to make up for the Bush MIA debacle?) -- is Freeh's charge that Clinton did not press the Saudis to help the FBI in its investigation of the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing (in which 19 Americans were killed) because he was more interested in hitting up the Saudi royal family for donations to the Clinton presidential library. I noted that until Freeh acted like any self-respecting FBI agent and provided evidence to back up this explosive accusation, there was no way to evaluate it.(Clinton's people have said it is BS; Freeh was not at the meeting where this foul deed supposedly transpired. Clintonites who did attend that discussion claimed Clinton did press the Saudis on the investigation and did not pull back in order to rattle a tin cup for his library.)


Josh Marshall reports:

According to Roll Call, the Free Enterprise Fund is set to start running "saturation" anti-Ronnie Earle TV ads in Austin before taking the ads nationwide.


"Battle-blogging for profit" -- Yahoo, China, and news as entertainment:

As Blogs become big business, Internet giants have begun trying to profit from new forms of journalism, including war coverage. The results are not encouraging.

Yahoo's hypocrisy is even more shameful because it is also in the news business. The company recently opened a news production division with promises of hard-hitting stories that U.S. mainstream media are afraid to report.


Let me close with some humor in these oh-so deadly times. Here’s TV host/comic Bill Maher on Harriet Miers:

New Rule: George Bush must meet some new people. You know, when Americans see their president giving every job to the same old cronies, they use words like "loyal to a fault" and "stubborn" and "close-minded," "lives in a bubble," "sock-puppet," "asshole." "Worst president ever." But they're missing the point. The problem isn't his political philosophy -- "kill people and animals and take their gas" -- the problem is he has to expand his circle of friends beyond his mom, Karen Hughes and the House of Saud. Which is why before George Bush makes another political appointment, he has to join Friendster.

This week, President Bush had to nominate a Supreme Court judge, and he picked the most qualified person within 30 feet of his office. Her qualifications: well, she is a lawyer and former commissioner of the Texas State Lottery. And she's seen every episode of "Judging Amy." Abortion, affirmative action, separation of church and state. Yeah, let's ask the lady who! peddled scratch tickets to liquor stores.


This is a film set in El Salvador that opens today in New York. It is about the plague of child soldiers and is done brilliantly. Here is a description I was sent:

The Innocent Voices of War-Affected Children

Near the end of director Luis Mandoki’s film Innocent Voices, the lead character, 11-year-old Chava, must choose whether to kill another boy while in the midst of a firefight between El Salvadoran army troops and guerillas with the FMLN. Sadly, it is a choice made by too many children throughout the world today. Though the setting of the film is in the turbulent early 1980's El Salvador, the wartime experiences it recounts are still being replayed.

Based on the life of its screenwriter, Oscar Torres, Innocent Voices is arguably one of the most powerful movies ever made about the impact of war on civilians. As a young person growing up in the Central American nation, Torres and his peers feared reaching twelve years old, as that was the age at which the government army forcibly recruited boys to fight the leftist insurgency.

More information about the film can be found at:

To load the film web site:

To load video in normal-sized window:

To load video in gigantic-sized window:

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Our MediaChannel Mission


We are opening our internal processes for your input and improvement. We want to strengthen our work with your help and participation.

"We Need a Media Channel to Challenge the Other Channels and Reform Media Practices:" Mission Statement
(draft, Oct. 2005) is a nonprofit, public interest web-based network founded
in 2000 and dedicated to raising public awareness and promoting citizen action around global media issues. We seek to do more than encourage structural reforms and regulations; we seek more responsibility, accountability and transparency within media organizations. We work to defend media freedom while encouraging better journalism globally to serve the public interest.

Launched by award-winning professional journalists, advised by top scholars and practitioners and now connected to more than1,300 affiliates, MediaChannel is a robust internationally respected on-line media platform for an informed non-partisan and post-partisan discourse about the critical link between media and democracy featuring solution-oriented media analysis, education, research, criticism, debate and activism.

We report on the media but also inspire citizen engagement by participating in industry conferences, speaking out on radio and television, producing books and encouraging films, while campaigning to challenge and change media practices.

The Media Channel Difference

In an era of declining public confidence in the media, there seems to be two strategies in response.

One emphasizes domestic partisan politics and legislative reforms mostly at the national level. Its focus is challenging government policy and the positions of political leaders. It concentrates on regulation, rule-making and left-right critiques. Its target is largely the right.

MediaChannel goes deeper, while taking part in national coalitions to press for media reform. We place a stress on democratizing journalism worldwide, reforming corporate practices, building new media, pressing the press to report the truth and encouraging dialogue between the independent media sector and the mainstream, engaging all points of view. We want to find ways to encourage common ground agendas like the campaign that united conservatives and progressives in the fight against FCC media concentration “reforms.”

MediaChannel supports more bottom-up reforms including media literacy education and on-line campaigns that encourage readers to think through policy choices and confront corporate practices that lead to the dumbing-down of news and the proliferation of exploitative programming.

What We Do

MediaChannel is concerned with the political, cultural and social impacts of our media system, large and small. MediaChannel exists to provide comprehensive news, information and diverse perspectives to inspire collaboration, action and engagement through citizen journalism and reform. Making sense of the steady stream of info-tainment requires background, context and interpretation. It demands outreach and inspiration. It is essential for reviving our democracy.

MediaChannel is unique in offering news, reports and analysis from our editors and an international network of contributors, media-issues organizations and publications, as well as original features from contributors and staff. Our highly visible and diverse team speaks widely at universities and events worldwide, organizes well-attended public events and appears on radio and TV.

Our editor Danny Schechter directed WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) a widely distributed award-winning film on the media coverage of the war and has written five commercially distributed books based on MediaChannel research and reports. Two new books, The Death of Media (Melville, 2005) and When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War (Select Books 2006) deal with important media issues. He represents MediaChannel globally. His articles appear on many websites, in books, newspapers and magazines.

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With more than 50,000 members, MediaChannel also launches on-line campaigns through its Media For Democracy affiliate. This includes the current “Keep the Light on Injustice Campaign” to press media outlets for follow-up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We are also now involved in various “show us the war" initiatives to urge better coverage of the conflict in Iraq.

Products include a daily comprehensive report, the Media Savvy newsletter and two blogs, one a counter-narrative to the daily news by News Dissector Danny Schechter, and Media Is A Plural, a more in-depth blog of original reporting and research by veteran journalist Rory O’Connor. David DeGraw directs Media Channel. Jackie Newberry, a Houston-based reader, is director of outreach and Vicki Assavero handles board relations and development. Pat Hortsman supervises management of finances. Jody Kolodzey edits the News Dissector blog and various submissions to the MediaChannel website. We are building a team of volunteers to take on key tasks.

Resources include innovative blogs, thematic special reports, action toolkits, media literacy projects, forums for discussion, an indexed directory of hundreds of affiliated groups, and a search engine constituting the single largest online media-issues database.

Our slogan: “While the media watch the world, we watch the media.”

MediaChannel is unique in the world and on the web. Support comes from funders and members. We are seeking grants to help us build a membership base to enhance the capacity to sustain this work in the years ahead. Produced by Globalvision as a project of The Global Center, an IRS-approved 501 ©3 organization. The MediaChannel was the first media and democracy supersite on the Internet.

What did we leave out? How can we improve this statement?

Input welcome to:
(I hope our email will be fixed soon.)

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