Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Investigative Journalism?

Jed Lewison asks the disturbing question, “If the mainstream media put had put 10% of the effort they are expending into finding out if Treasury Sec. Tim Geithner or Sen. Dodd (D-CT) stripped anti-bonus legislation out of the stimulus bill into examining the Bush admin.’s bogus claims about WMD in 2002, what are the chances we’d have gone to war with Iraq?”  Considering that Thursday marked the 6th anniversary of that invasion, 6 LOONG years for an illegal, unnecessary, war of choice against a nation which had not attacked us and had NO MEANS TO DO SO, that”s a very important question.  (As just one example of the journalistic malpractice that happened in the run up to the invasion, how many “journalists” STILL owe apologies to Lt. Col Scott Ritter, a highly decorated marine veteran of Gulf War I, who had been chief weapons inspector in Iraq under both Pres. Bush I and Pres. Clinton.  When Col. Ritter kept refuting the Bush admin.’s claims that Iraq had WMD, numerous TV talking heads questioned his patriotism–even accusing him of being in Saddam Hussein’s pay.  He was right; they were wrong; no one has apologized. The Obama  admin. should give Col. Ritter the Medal of Freedom.)

March 20, 2009 - Posted by | Iraq, media reform


  1. I submit that investigative journalism has largely been submerged by the tidal wave of personality driven media who mostly give their own opinions and in many cases have loosely veiled political agendas.
    Liberals and Conservatives alike are guilty of such perfidy.

    Comment by Paul | March 21, 2009

  2. Believe it or not, Paul, I agree. The root cause is MONEY. It used to be that no one expected the news media to make money–even though they had corporate sponsors. The TV networks would expect to make money on their shows, but not on the news. This all changed with CNN: the first 24 hr. cable news network. Even then it didn’t change quickly–not until the 1st Gulf War. CNN’s reporters got the close battle scenes and inside story and blew the networks away. Suddenly, the news was all about money. Then Ted Turner sold CNN and the new, public, firm replaced serious journalism with ratings conscious personalities.

    Then Fox (News Corp.), previously known only for envelope-pushing shows like The Simpsons and owned by a former Australian businessman named Rupert Murdock, followed suit with Fox News Network. Run by Roger Ailes, Fox had noticed that CNN’s “Crossfire,” a show where a liberal and a conservative “host” screamed at each other and called it “debate” (satirized mercilessly by the “Even Stevens” [Stephen Colbert vs. Steve Cavell] segment in the early years of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) had huge money and great ratings. So, they copied it with “Hannity and Colmes”–but Fox went further. Noticing that the nation was, at that time, moving in a more conservative direction led by Rush Limbaugh and the other “angry white men” of Talk Radio (and the occasional angry white woman like Dr. Laura Ingraham), Ailes and Fox News decided that the conservative Hannity would always “win.” They would give him tons of guest help and Colmes would be constantly shouted down and derided. Then the entire “news” would be given a rightwing perspective with one rightwing talking head after another.

    CNN began recruiting more rightwing talking heads, too. Then NBC coined its 24 hr cable version MSNBC with a very similar format. At first, MSNBC was also dominated by conservatives, though more reasonable ones than those on Fox News. Not until Keith Olbermann took over Countdown in 2002-3 did MSNBC discover that a liberal perspective on the news could also generate ratings. (Air America Radio, led by Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now: The War and Peace Report” and by the “Al Franken Show” from 2001-05, was also showing that liberals could compete on talk radio.) Gradually, MSNBC decided that the conservative end of the spectrum was more than full, and that the mood of the country shifting, they began adding more liberal shows–but they are just as personality driven as the other networks.

    About the only place one can find old fashioned journalism left in the USA is National Public Radio (and it relies on far more biased sources–usually conservative–than it once did) and Public Broadcasting System news (especially Now and Bill Moyers’ Journal). If one is lucky, one can get BBC America on cable. My NPR news station has the BBC overnight. Every once and awhile, one gets a glimmer of real news out of CBS’ 60 Minutes.

    But, for the most part, real journalism is dead in the U.S.–and our democracy is the worse for it.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 21, 2009

  3. Geez Michael we agree on something…:-)

    Comment by Paul | March 22, 2009

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