Independent Christian Voice


Rise of the 'patriotic journalist'

Robert Parry writes a nice piece examining the changing role of journalists. Here's a snippet:
When Republican rule was restored in 2001 with George W Bush's controversial "victory", major news executives and many rank-and-file journalists understood that their careers could best be protected by wrapping themselves in the old red-white-and-blue. "Patriotic" journalism was in; "skeptical" journalism was definitely out. That tendency deepened even more after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks as many journalists took to wearing American flag lapels and avoided critical reporting about Bush's sometimes shaky handling of the crisis. [...] In November 2001, to avoid other questions about Bush's legitimacy, the results of a media recount of the Florida vote were misrepresented to obscure the finding that Al Gore would have carried the state - and thus the White House - if all legally cast votes were counted. [...] In 2002, as Bush shifted focus from Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan to Saddam Hussein and Iraq, the "patriotic" journalists moved with him. Some of the few remaining "skeptical" media personalities were silenced, such as MSNBC's host Phil Donahue, whose show was canceled because he invited on too many war opponents. In most newspapers, the occasional critical articles were buried deep inside, while credulous stories accepting the administration's claims about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction were bannered on page one. [...] Only gradually, over the past two years as Iraq's WMD never materialized but a stubborn insurgency did, the bloody consequences of "patriotic" journalism have begun to dawn on the American people. By not asking tough questions, journalists contributed to a mess that has now cost the lives of nearly 2,000 US soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis. Retired Army Lieutenant General William Odom, a top military intelligence official under Reagan, has predicted that the Iraq invasion "will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in US history". [Read entire article]
"Patriot" journalism should dispel any remaining notion of a "liberal" mainstream media. Journalists have become beholden to the people in power and have lost their primary mission of independent, critical observation and reporting of the government's actions. The Fourth Estate was supposed to be one more check on government power; now it's become complicit in its unchecked abuse of power.


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