Friday, February 16, 2007

The Media Are the Menace

Via Atrios, the Washington Post's Dan Froomkin sums it up:
It seems almost inconceivable: The White House actually invites the press corps to hold it accountable -- but when the time comes, and a key benchmark is missed, the press is silent.

And yet that's exactly what has happened.

Back in January, when President Bush announced that in spite of the public opinion against the war in Iraq he was going to send in more troops, he repeatedly insisted that what was different this time was that the Iraqis were finally serious about stepping up.

Responding to reporters who were skeptical -- after all, they'd heard this many times before -- White House officials urged them to judge for themselves whether that would happen....

And President Bush yesterday insisted that everything's going according to plan: "Our new commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, is now on the ground in Baghdad," Bush told the American Enterprise Institute. "He says the Iraqi government is following through on its commitment to deploy three additional army brigades in the capital."

But at a Pentagon press conference yesterday, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Peter Pace acknowledged that only two of those three Iraqi brigades are there: "You've got two of the Iraqi brigades in -- that were going to plussed up in Baghdad in Baghdad now. The third one is moving this month," Pace said.
Did the White House Press Corps challenge Bush on this blatant contradiction? Guess.

And Greg Sargent, at Talking Points Memo, offers a simple comparison of the Watergate era's Press Corps to the grinning fools we now have. Back then, the Press agressively pursued the facts. Yesterday, Bush was asked about the revelations at the Libby trial that three of his top aides had leaked the highly classified identity of an undercover CIA agent to reporters. Bush evaded the question and made an insipid joke. The Press Corps laughed along.

It's a reminder that tolerance and even jadedness towards official mendacity and stonewalling have become about as pervasive and unremarkable as the air you breathe. I mean, here you have testimony saying that three of Bush's senior officials helped destroy the career of a CIA officer. The President blithely refused to say whether he authorized it. And the response is...laughter? What the hell's so funny about this?

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