Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Biggest Danger

The worst danger facing us is not terrorism. It is a growing inability to speak truthfully about events.

Veteran reporter Helen Thomas, in a moment that will be part of her legacy, looked around the White House press room at her colleagues this week and said, "Where IS everybody?" She had just been fed a line of evil Orwellian mind-grease about the United States torturing people - something the President this month admitted he knew about and approved. What the administration has done to finesse this is to stick to a legalistic definition of "torture" and deny that waterboarding is torture.

It is a transparent machination, yet the professional truth-tellers, those paid and entrusted to ask hard questions and milk the truth out of spokespeople for the federal government, played their game politely and did not challenge the doublespeak and the lies.

The current government has perhaps robbed us of something even more sacred than a few civil liberties. And with one of the major candidates for President shamelessly making up stories about being under enemy fire and then dismissing the outcry by saying she "misspoke" (lied? hallucinated? what does that mean?), I don't know if elections are going to cure it.

Ten days ago, the New York Times exposed a domestic propaganda campaign carried out by the Pentagon with the complicity of major news networks, sending out retired generals as military analysts, briefed and paid by the government to promote favorable coverage of government war policy. Not the first time, by the way, this government has tried to plant operatives in the news media to shape news coverage. They planted this guy in the press corps - remember him? Or those columnists who were on the payroll? Remember the fake news conference?

And with all the problems we face, I open up the news this morning to read more stuff about Rev. Jeremiah Wright, about how much the Democrats really believe in Jesus, and the compelling national issue of whether Miley Cyrus should apologize for being photographed by Anne Leibovitz.

Where IS everybody? Helen Thomas looks to her fellow reporters. I look to my fellow Americans. Where ARE we?

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