Portrait of a Villager: Then and Now

Howard FinemanDigby wrote a great article this afternoon, 10 Years On: the Press Reconsiders. In it, she looks at a new article by Villager Extraordinaire Howard Fineman in which he discusses the mistakes the media made in the run up to the Iraq War. To be fair, Fineman calls himself to task. But Digby shows with the help of his own writing at the time that his sins are far worse than he now admits. And then she shows that his current reporting is every bit as partial towards power as it was then.

I hate Howard Fineman. When he took over at the Huffington Post, I knew that website was doomed. And truly, there isn’t nearly as much good content as there once was and there is a hell of a lot more middle-of-the-road Villager coverage. But mostly I hate coming upon him because I know that all I’ll hear is the same old Washington insider bullshit that all Villagers trade in. In fact, Digby wrote something about this that is exactly my own experience:

Well, I don’t travel in the corridors of power like Fineman, so I suppose I had the advantage of not needing to flatter the men and women who will feed me information to uncritically regurgitate. But, to me, it didn’t take a professional journalist to see that George W. Bush and the Cheney cabal were warmongering liars. After all, they’d signaled their intentions for years. It was even on the internet.

I remember the early days of 2003. It boggled my mind that pretty much everyone accepted the administration at its word. Digby quotes Fineman saying exactly what I’m talking about, “If he’s a cowboy, he’s the reluctant warrior, the Shane in the movie, strapping on the guns as the last resort because he has to, to protect his family, drawing on the emotions of 9/11, tying them to Saddam Hussein, using the possible or likely rejection vote from the U.N. as a badge of honor.” What?! Are we really to believe that Fineman thought that Bush was reluctantly going to war? As Norman Solomon shows in War Made Easy, presidents always claim that the last thing they want to do is go to war. They’re always doing everything they can to not go to war. And yet, somehow, they are always pulled into war despite all their efforts. How many times can the media be fooled?

This is the problem when a sizable portion of a culture is taken over by a revolutionary group like the current Republican Party. All the installed interests—the opposition party especially—are in shock. Everyone is so vested in the system as it is that they pretend that all is well, even when the most naive among us can see that something is very much wrong.

I was just listening to NPR and James Fallows was talking some nonsense about how great it was that people like Rob Portman are able to have personal experiences that change their political outlook. If this is what we have to wait for, then we will never solve our most pressing problems. Rob Portman does not and never will know anyone from the island nation of Kiribati, which will soon be entirely under water; so Rob Portman will never care about global warming. Rob Portman does not and never will know young men who go to prison for years because an unconstitutional search revealed a small amount of cannabis; so Rob Portman will never care about the drug war. Rob Portman does not and never will know any of the working poor; so Rob Portman will never care about income inequality or raising the minimum wage. But don’t worry, because James Fallows is there to sooth everyone, “See: Republicans are reasonable if you give them enough time!”

And I think this is exactly what went on in the lead up to the Iraq War. It is the same thing that is happening now regarding Obama’s drone war on anyone he decides is an enemy. It’s all okay! We’re the Good Guys! There’s nothing to get riled up about!

Whether it is Howard Fineman or James Fallows or any of thousands of other mainstream journalists, the word is always the same: everything is as it should be and it is only fools who claim that those in power are anything but good leaders wanting to do what is best for everyone involved. There has got to be tenth circle of hell for these enabling sons of bitches!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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