Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Archives: Why I am Mad at the New York Times...and Media in General:

The 2000 Election and How the Media Utterly Failed Us All

Letters
Columbia Journalism Review,  Mar/Apr 2001  


MEDIA MALFEASANCE


Thanks to Christopher Hanson for "All the News That Fits the Myth" (CJR, January/February). I used to be so proud of America's free press. Then I found myself reading lie after easily detectable lie. There would have been no election coup if the press had told the truth.


Christopher Hanson, thank you for calling a spade a spade. Unfortunately, it's a bloody shovel.


ABIGAIL QUART New York, New York


The overall problem with the press coverage - or should we say noncoverage - of Bush's many chunks of hidden history ("Missing the DUI Story," CJR, January/February) is that, unlike any previous politician or even celebrity, there was no media storm demanding he release his medical or school or military or criminal records.


This was and is unprecedented. I belonged to a team of concerned citizens who researched the missing years and when we talked to The New York Times and George magazine about this matter, both admitted that Bush and his people in Texas were stonewalling the press and refusing even minimal cooperation with normal everyday questions.


So I wrote to both publications and requested that they have headlines saying BUSH CONCEALS QUESTIONABLE PAST and then detail the stonewalling coupled with cries for release of records, especially the missing military records we needed.


They bluntly refused. I couldn't figure out why. Tompaine.com also tried to budge our media into at least pressuring Bush to come clean, but they were all intent on figuring out if Gore really said he was in Love Story. When we got under their skins, they told us that the missing two years of 1972-1973 were too long ago. They also said no one cared, yet whenever we polled the public on our own always there was intense interest in the information concerning the missing military years. So the real question here is why our media suddenly got cold feet whenever any subject of Bush's malfeasance arose.


And why the press changed the explosive DUI story from questions about Bush's past, one that has more than three arrests, to who revealed this essential information.


We smelled a rat here and the corpse still stinks.


ELAINE SUPKIS Berlin, New York


The mass moaning over the missed George Bush DUI story is all well and good, but it is a minor aspect of campaign coverage of Bush. A larger story that had been studiously avoided during the campaign despite the pleas of informed citizens was set to break in a big way on the Friday before the election. Medal of Honor winners Senators Kerrey and Inouye had conducted a press conference calling attention to George W. Bush's year-- long absence from his post of duty with the Texas Air National Guard during wartime - a charge that could have resonated with millions of veterans poised to vote. That scandal was obliterated by the lesser DUI story within just a couple of hours.


Over six months prior to the election, the AWOL story was addressed only minimally by a few media outlets, despite the fact that thousands of e-mails, faxes, and phone calls had been made to members of the press and to members of Congress providing careful detail and documentation, including his own damning records that were obtained through FOIA by a citizen activist. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of flyers had been distributed, demonstrations held, and call-ins made to talk radio.


And yet, like so many other aspects of the unexamined George, the national press for reasons we can only assume were sloth, cowardice, or collusion - was mostly silent. In any other profession this would be malfeasance.


We won't be making the mistake again of trying to convince established news outlets to properly inform the American people. We will simply develop more avenues that go above and around the print and broadcast media. Eliminate the irrelevant middleman. (That would be you all.)


Too often now we are seeing citizen activists who are ahead of the pundits and the reporters, who simply burp up superficial stories provided by the spinners. You all can pay attention and catch up, or you can be in the dustbin.


EILEEN SMITH Salem, Oregon

Historical note: all three of us worked online on investigating Bush during the election. Our headquarters was at the Salon Table Talk forums. I was the one who went to and from DC during this time.
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