Monday, October 11, 2004

Tangled Webs

What a world we live in! The Bush Administration has gone after their best friend at the New York Times, Judith Miller, over sources. Miller has been called a 1st amendment Martyr by Slate reporter Jack Shafer because of her refusal to name her sources for an article she was researching on the Valerie Plame case to a federal grand jury. The LA Times at has written a good piece on whether or not her case meets the guidelines handed down by the Supreme Court as to when a reporter must reveal her sources, but the larger issue here is why go after her? They claim they want to find out who outed Plame as a CIA agent, but since she didn't even write a story on the issue, and Robert Novak did, why is she the one being held in contempt? Could it be because Novak is one of the most important conservative columnists in America, an even bigger ally then Miller? Remember, Miller was one of the few reporters to back up the administrations rationale for going to war in Iraq, reporting on Iraqi WMD programs and using sources which were later shown to be untrustworthy. Perhaps they're going after her because when no weapons were found she blamed our government for botching the job. Perhaps they're going after her simply because she works for the New York Times. Perhaps, maybe, they even believe it is the just and legal thing to do.

But that is not the problem. The problem is what the LA Times called in the same article the Bush Administrations war against the press. This administration hates the press, hates public scrutiny, hates being challenged, hates all those things which make American democracy work. Bush rarely grants interviews and when he does it is usually to conservative reporters who are going to give them softball questions. They have bullied and intimidated their critics, including the press, every time an objection has been raised to their policies. Their slash and burn tactics of discredit, confuse and destroy have been brought to bear not only against Richard Clarke and Plame's husband Joseph Wilson IV, but also against reporters like Miller and against the news media in general. Not since Nixon has a president struck such an antagonistic position toward the press (though in Nixon's case it proved to be true that they really were out to get him).

This president clearly tries to do more then stay on message. He tries to control the message and, more then that, to stamp out dissent. He may believe that a free press is essential to a free state, but he doesn't act like it. The current occupants of the White House are openly antagonistic toward the press. In another display of their contempt for the constitution they swore to uphold, this administration acts as though it is the press' job to act as mouth pieces for administration policy and cheerleaders for administration actions, and when things go against them and the press has the gall to act independently or objectively these guys turn into Liberty Valance, breaking up the newspaper office, destroying the printing press, and horse whipping Edmund O'Brien. The attack on Judith Miller is just one part of the big picture.

Rent the DVD.


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