March 9, 2010 Leave a comment
Let's stick with the theme of the media's interest in GOP-talking point ratings over honest journalism with the utterly deplorable case of Liz Cheney's organization releasing an ad referring to the Department of Justice as "Department of Jihad" because it employs lawyers who have worked defending Guantanamo detainees (most of whom we actually know were innocent, not "the worst of the worst." For the moment, we'll hold off on how scurrilous, anti-American, and morally shameful this attack is and take a look at how CNN covered the matter. Via Glenn Greenwald (you really should read the whole post, here's the key excerpts):
On Twitter yesterday, I wrote: "How media figures treat Liz Cheney after her vile McCarthyite smear campaign will say a lot about their character."
CNN's Wolf Blitzer spoke volumes today about himself and his "news network." First, on Twitter earlier today, he excitedly promoted
his upcoming story about what he called the "intense debate about Obama
Justice Dept bringing in lawyers who previously represented Gitmo
Blitzer first teased the
segment as this on-screen logo appeared, taken directly from the Cheney/Kristol ad: "HAPPENING NOW: DEPT. OF JIHAD?"
The next time he teased the story, CNN flashed this logo – "Al Qaeda 7?"
– also taken directly from the Cheney/Kristol ad, as Blitzer explained
that numerous Justice Department lawyers have been — as he put it — "accused of disloyalty"
by a national security organization headed by Liz Cheney. The
final Blitzer tease came as these words were flashed on the screen: "Are Justice Dept. lawyers disloyal?"
story itself began when Blitzer posed this question: "Should there be
a loyalty test over at the Justice Department?" He then introduced
CNN Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve, who — echoing Liz
Cheney — introduced her segment by asking about the Obama DOJ: "Should it really be called the Department of Jihad"?
segment then included, without any judgment, various opinions on these
questions, with "some" saying that lawyers shouldn't be judged by the
clients they represent while "others" explained that these lawyers'
presence in the Justice Department presents a serious national security
issue. None of the facts compiled earlier today by ABC News' Jake Tapper
– such as the fact that the Bush DOJ also hired lawyers who had
represented Guantanamo detainees, just as Rudy Giuliani's firm had,
without any objections from the Right — made it into CNN's story, as I knew would happen.
Meserve's breezily neutral, "each-side-says" report, Blitzer hosted a
"debate," featuring right-wing lawyer Victoria Toensig defending the
Cheney/Kristol crusade, and some criminal defense lawyer meekly and
lamely objecting to some (though not all) of Toensig's
arguments. Blitzer passively let Toensig ramble uninterrupted and
dominate the exchange, asking not a single challenging question. The
entire time as Meserve's story itself was being broadcast and the
"debate" took place, this was the logo CNN had on screen: "DEVELOPING STORY – ARE JUSTICE DEPT. LAWYERS DISLOYAL?"
The two segments, from start to finish, were constructed based on the
exact McCarthyite narrative Cheney and Kristol puked up, and although
Blitzer did note that even some Bush officials found the ad to have
gone "too far," the entire 30 minutes of broadcast time — both when
the story was repeatedly previewed and when it finally appeared –
continuously reinforced the smears with both graphics and Blitzer's
As much as conservatives mindlessly believing in the "liberal media bias" annoys me, I don't think anything annoys me more than the absurdly mistaken belief that CNN, in particular, has a liberal bias. What they have is pathetic standards for journalism. And, on the merits of this disgusting smear, Eugene Robinson has a nice column highlighting the criticism from very conservative (yet, still with integrity) legal scholars. Of course, the Post in there ongoing efforts to show "we're not part of the stinkin' Liberal Media" has hired former Bush speech-writing hack, Marc Thiessen, who actually tries to defend this.