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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Freedom isn't on the march, particularly within the halls of our beleagured media outlets. I, like just about everyone else, have been a vocal critic of the news media. Just this weekend I took the mainstream media to task for seeming to value sensationlistic stories about runaway brides and pedophilic pop stars more than such grave concerns as war and torture. But in the wake of this Newsweek hullabaloo, I feel it necessary to come to the media's defense and call absolute bullshit on the Bush administration and the right wing. Again.

The minute Newsweek issued its apology over the Koran desecration story, the Conservative cabal swarmed all over it. Michelle "I heart internment camps" Malkin led the charge (Ann Coulter must've been busy getting her balls licked by TIME) with a piece titled "Newsweek Lied! People Died!" Actually Michelle, Newsweek didn't lie, they made an unfortunate mistake. But hey, you know which lie did lead to a bunch of deaths? This one. In fact, it led to about 1,611 U.S. and countless Iraqi deaths, so stick that in your narrow-minded, reactionary war pipe and smoke it Michelle.

From there, an avalanche of similar missives from across the neocon landscape filled the internets, topped off by the White House's own shame-on-you proclamation, issued yesterday by press secretary Scott McLellan: "The report has had serious consequences. People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged." Now hold on a minute McShill. Granted, Newsweek's bumblefuck surely didn't help matters much, but I think our image abroad was pretty severely damaged already, you know because of the bombs and torture and stuff. A brilliant re-write of McLellan's statement can be found here.

The administration isn't upset about errant reporting, its upset that it was reported at all. It isn't as though allegations of disrespect for Islam haven't surfaced before, today's Daily News mentions but a few of them in its accounting of the story. But the Bushies idea of image control is not to abolish the questionable practices, but rather to hope those practices never see the light of day. And if it does, whoo boy, look out. In fact, don't be surprised if an 'errant' Patriot missile lands on the Daily News building sometime in the near future.

This case is just another attempt to bully the media into submission so they'll be hesitant to print stories like this (i.e. uncomfortably truthful ones) in the future. Because when they've got false wars to promote, the last thing they need is a pesky press to call them on their bullshit. By undercutting the media and making it out to be the enemy, they hope the public will stop paying attention, allowing them to get away with anything.

Sad thing is, it appears to be working. An alarming poll recently revealed that 22% of Americans feel the government should be allowed to censor the media. Go ahead, read that again if you need to, because its shocking. Nearly a quarter of the country essentially believe in the abolishment of a free press. Unbelievable. You better watch what you say, redux.

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The Censorship Campaign Gets a Boost
The Resignation of Scott McLellan
AgitProp: Flushing Democracy
LAT: Selective Outrage
Slate: Flushing Newsweek
CJR: The Story of the Story Isn't the Story At All
Kos: A Rewrite

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