Dick Cheney And The Surrender Of American Media

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[Beneath The Radar]

Where is Dick Cheney's shame? And where is the shame of the people who are supposed to be covering him?

Dick Cheney was walking around demanding that we place our troops in harm's way like a veteran who begged for combat, then won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service.

The way he's strutting around, lecturing America and saber-rattling for war, one would never know that when the nation called for him to serve, he ran like a weasel on high potency steroids to avoid military service - and the mainstream media is just as gutless for not pointing that out.

What's passing for the press in this country has proven without a doubt, that they've literally degenerated into a group of glorified ambulance chasers.

They've been staked out under Tiger woods' toilet seat for the last week trying to get an exclusive on Tiger's sex life. At the same time, they're completely ignoring the most pertinent news in the nation -- a draft dodger and former CEO of a major military-industrial corporation pressuring the president to rush our troops into harm's way before the decision to send 30,000 more was made.

Why isn't the media holding Dick Cheney accountable for his deplorable hypocrisy? Why aren't they holding Cheney accountable for anything?

I can think of several questions that the media should demand that Cheney answer every time he sticks his head out of his undisclosed rat hole.

What were the "other priorities" that he claimed was more important than America when he sought, and received, five deferments from battle when it was his turn to fight? What hardships were those deferments based on? Were they more important than the hardships in the lives of men who responded to the nation's call, then fought and died?

Who approved Cheney's deferments, and were they valid?

Was it just a coincident that his daughter and fellow chicken hawk, Liz Cheney, was born virtually nine months to the day after the selective service declared that married men would be called for duty, but married men with children would remain deferred? The rules of deferment were changed on Oct. 26, 1965. Liz was born on July 28, 1966 - nine months and two days later.

Cheney got his final deferment Jan. 26, 1966 - because his wife was pregnant. Now there's some sexual prowess worth looking into.

In addition, considering the nation's sacrifice in both lives and treasure isn't it worth investigating who was involved and what was discussed in Cheney's "secret meeting" prior to the Bush Administration taking us to war in Iraq? Who decided to award no-bid contracts before going into Iraq? And who decided what corporations would receive no-bid contracts and what criteria was that decision based upon?

And here's a question that just begs to be asked - didn't they consider it a conflict of interest that Halliburton, the corporation that Vice President headed before entering office, was awarded the largest no-bid contract in Iraq?

The mainstream media also seemed to have been out to lunch regarding the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Isn't that treason? So why was it handled so casually by the press? Revealing the identity of a CIA agent is the very height of treasonous irresponsibility for any citizen, and the fact that it could be done by the Vice President of the United States is simply unfathomable. When that incident took place it should have alerted every citizen of this country about the instability of the Bush administration; virtually anything was possible - oh, but sounding that alarm is the job of a responsible and diligent fourth estate isn't it?

We have a very serious problem in this country when citizens have to depend on late-night comedians to put the shenanigans of our government into perspective. Renowned newsman Edward R. Murrow once said that "A citizenry of sheep begets a government of wolves." I wonder what he'd say about a press filled with ostriches with their head in the sand?

Murrow would immediately recognize that even the most informed citizen relies on the press to sound the alarm when government goes astray. The founding fathers depended on that as an important element of keeping America free.

That's exactly why the freedom of the press was incorporated into the nation's founding documents. But what passes for the press today has gotten so caught up in the economic, egocentrism, and self-service of our political environment, that they've become next to useless on the issues that really count. They seem to be afraid of angering a demagogue by asking him the obvious question.

Even though our troops were dying under the nation's mandate to capture the people responsible for 9/11, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) alleges that the Bush Administration purposely allowed Osama Bin Laden to get away so they'd have an excuse to invade Iraq. The congressman said: "That was done by the previous administration intentionally let Bin Laden get away. If they would capture al Qaeda, there would be no justification for an invasion in Iraq."

He went on to say, "There's no question that the leader of the military operations of the U.S. called back our military - called them back from going after the head of al Qaeda."

So why isn't all hell breaking loose in the press? Why isn't that all we can hear about on every channel, and the headline of every newspaper? In other words, why isn't it being given the Michael Jackson treatment? Instead, all we can hear on every channel is how many women Tiger Woods is allegedly sleeping with, and whether his wife went after him with a putter or a nine iron.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm just as nosey as anyone else about whether or not a billionaire who's the most recognized sports figure in the world can get a girlfriend. But I prefer my national news not being preempted by such frivolity. I can wait to get that information on the Wendy Williams Show (How you doooin', girl?) - and I'm virtually certain that most Americans agree. Well--maybe not, but that's grist for another mill.

Edward R. Murrow brought an end to the grip that Sen. Joe McCarthy's hypocrisy had on the nation with just one commentary, and one commentary by Walter Cronkite essentially spelled the beginning of the end of the Vietnam conflict. These journalists provided a valuable service to the American people. But the electronic commentators now on the air are so self-aggrandizing and prop-laden that they lack the dignity and clot - and the few true journalists left are treated like field hands.

While CNN does make an effort to maintain some semblance of journalistic standards as far as they go, they are just as guilty as the rest of the networks of failing to pursue issues of vital importance to the nation. And I wouldn't even mention Fox in a news context, since they're clearly nothing more than a public relations firm for the Republican Party, but they're significant because their appeal to the very worst within us is what's responsible for dragging down the journalistic standards of the electronic news media as a whole.

A perfect example of that can be seen in the programming of MSNBC. The network has great talent on their staff, but they've lost credibility by allowing themselves to be reduced to spitball fights with Fox in order to gain ratings.

Take Keith Olbermann, for example. He's a great talent, but his talent doesn't come close to matching the size of his ego. When I watch Olbermann I get the feeling that the news is secondary to showing how witty he can be. On the surface Keith's antics may seem harmless enough, until one tries to imagine either Murrow or Cronkite throwing copy at an imaginary window, or quoting people in the news in cartoon-like voices. It's only then that one begins to recognize how far downhill we've come.

Okay, maybe it's just fun and games, but when you play games with serious issues like a politician blatantly lying to the American people about healthcare, or the meaning of torture, or about a competing network purposely misleading the American people, you leave the impression that the offense can't be all that serious, otherwise, you wouldn't be joking about it. So they contribute to the perception that lying and corruption is nothing to become alarmed about - it's just the way the game is played.

So in that regard, their behavior is just as irresponsible and damaging to our society as Fox News.

For more commentary by Black Star News columnist Eric L. Wattree please see  http://wattree.blogspot.com

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