Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Continuing the conversation

Mark D Lew at Benzene 4 has posted an extended response to the comments to his thoughtful letter I posted previously discussing the the Media Revolt Manifesto.

I'll have many more comments that tie in these responses as well as others in a similar vein. But for now, two quick observations:

-- Anyone who thinks that, for example, "Travelgate," "Filegate," "the Mena plot," "Vince Foster's murder," "the Paula Jones affair" and yes, even "Whitewater" -- all of which, I must point out, were widely flogged in the mainstream press, not to mention the focus of endless right-wing frothing -- were genuine scandals and not pseudo-scandals concocted almost solely for political advantage or out of paranoid hatred of Clinton simply has not examined the evidence fully. I'm not interested in exploring all the details of these scandals in any manifesto, but I'm quite comfortable asserting that these were phony affairs ginned up out of whole cloth and on the thinnest evidence; they certainly did not deserve even a quarter of the half-life they enjoyed in the so-called liberal media. (On Whitewater, I recommend Gene Lyons' largely unrefuted Fools for Scandal as a primer.) And in all these cases, they really were examples of shallow and thoughtless media pack behavior at its worst.

-- I am far from convinced that nonpartisanship at this point is even constructive. I specifically wrote the manifesto as a call to arms for liberals, who at this point are most reliably the serious opponents of the kind of perversion of the national discourse that has resulted from the conservative propaganda campaign of the past decade. I've watched too many self-described centrists who succumb (either as consumers or practitioners) to the phony sort of "he said/she said" reporting that passes for "balance" in today's journalism, which in turn has provided cover for both Bush's policies and his destructive presidency, not to mention his continuing mendacity. I'm not sure that the usual tepid support from waffling centrists is even desirable. The thrust of the manifesto was along the lines of a call for serious energy: lead, follow, or get out of the way.

But mebbe I can be convinced otherwise.

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