The American corporate media is comprised of political
operatives for the Bush administration. They have been there all
along, but it is the judicial process, not their colleagues, that
has brought their brazen behavior out into the open for all to
The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward is the most recent
example of a reporter who has turned out to be nothing more than
a Bush spokesman. Woodward made a name for himself on the Watergate
story more than 30 years ago. His reputation as the crusading,
hard-hitting journalist may have been deserved in the 1970s but
Woodward profited from that image years later than he should have.
Despite years of being a Washington insider who long ago lost
his journalistic truth seeking inclinations, Woodward’s name still
gave him credibility.
Now we know that Woodward is a liar, a liar on behalf
of his powerful friends. Woodward is one of the journalists who
were given the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame in an effort
to discredit her husband, a critic of Bush administration policy.
He never said so until he was deposed under oath by special prosecutor
Woodward spent months discrediting Fitzgerald personally.
He saw no reason to tell anyone, including his editors at the
Washington Post, that a “senior administration official” had told
him Valerie Plame’s identity before the now indicted Lewis Libby
told anyone else.
It was bad enough that Woodward kept quiet about
his involvement in a criminal investigation, but he spent months
making public comments disparaging the grand jury. He made these
remarks about Fitzgerald on CNN’s
Larry King Live:
A prosecutor is supposed to “look under rocks” and
in this case he had to talk to journalists. Woodward eventually
apologized for failing to mention that he would have to talk to
Fitzgerald, but neither he nor his paper has said one word about
Woodward’s numerous statements making light of the investigation.
What did the big wigs at the Washington Post have
to say when their star reporter made them look like jerks? Why,
they made excuses for him of course. Len Downie, his purported
boss, said that Woodward “made a mistake” by not telling him that
he was a part of a story his paper was reporting. Former editor
Bradlee was even worse. He made this comment about Woodward’s
It gets worse. Woodward asked colleague Walter
Pincus, “not to mention him” in his reporting on the Plame
case. Woodward says he told Pincus that he knew about Plame. Pincus
says he thought Woodward was involved but doesn’t recall being
told about Plame. Just as there is no honor among thieves, there
is no honor among Washington’s access hungry press corps.
The Post isn’t alone in failing to act the way a
newspaper is supposed to do. The New York Times has no shame about
the boot licking that masqueraded as reporting when they helped
the administration argue in favor of the occupation of Iraq. They
finally canned Judith Miller, but not before allowing her to insult
readers with a bizarre, self-pitying letter on the op-ed page.
Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger felt compelled
to talk about Miller, but he would have been better off if he
had just shut up. He called l’affaire Miller “a rather small bore
issue in the big scheme of things” and added that it “paled” in
comparison to the Jayson Blair scandal.
The New York Times defends Judith Miller because
she did their dirty work for them. The Times promoted the neocon
plot to occupy Iraq because it represents their world view as
well. They are now making lame excuses and telling intelligent
people what they already know, that they should have reported
the WMD story differently.
Miller, Sulzberger, Woodward and Bradlee are at
the top of the corporate media food chain, and their behavior
tells us why Americans aren’t being told anything they ought to
be told. Woodward uses his access to make a fortune writing about
the Supreme Court or various presidential administrations. If
a journalist’s priority is writing best selling books based on
the amount of access gained with the powerful, then truth telling
goes out the window.
Patrick Fitzgerald has done the public a great service
as he looks under rocks and puts the likes of Miller and Woodward
on the hot seat. On the previously mentioned segment of Larry
King Live, Woodward was asked about a rumor that he had a “bombshell”
to report on the Plame case. He responded, “I wish I did have
a bombshell. I don't even have a firecracker. I'm sorry.” Woodward
definitely had a bombshell and he saw it every time he looked
in the mirror.
It isn’t enough to say that the American corporate
media are biased. Their first priority is staying in the good
graces of the people running this country. Some act out of cynicism,
while others, like Sulzburger, clearly feel an affinity with their
policies and want to help promote them. It all means that the
citizenry come last. If we get the truth it will be because of
“junkyard dog” prosecutors, not because the media is doing its
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears
weekly in BC. Ms. Kimberley is a freelance writer
living in New York City. She can be reached via e-Mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.