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Tuesday, May 18, 2004


FUCKING A
Kevin Drum gets it exactly right on Jonathan Alter:
My problem is that Alter presumably sees the Bush administration up close on a daily basis and is paid to express his opinion about them, but he's not really doing it. His column is typical column stuff: thoughtful, nuanced, critical of the administration but still optimistic that Iraq will be peaceful someday, and with a conclusion that has just the barest hint of partisan preference ("...restoring America's prestige is a means to an end, and the presidential election, a referendum on which man can best change the picture that the whole world sees").

But guess what? It turns out that's not what he really thinks. What he really thinks is that the Bushies are "astonishingly incompetent," they are "clowns," and they are accomplished liars. He is gobsmacked that in so many parts of America "the perception is still of them as solid citizens."

Why should he be so surprised? His advice on the radio was that "The only way you can sort of start to let the public know is to say, no, they don't know what they're doing. They're clowns." But if that's the case, why doesn't he write that in Newsweek? After all, he's the guy with both inside access and a big megaphone, and if he doesn't say it, who will?
That's right. And instead, what we have is this silly idea of "balanced" journalism, whereby any criticism of an overwhelmingly awful thing has to be balanced by an equal amount of praise - and the consumers of this ground-up media mush are left in the dark.

Imagine "Nightline" with Adolph Hitler and Elie Wiesel. Ted Koppel introduces Elie Wiesel, who says the Nazis are gassing Jews in labor camps and burning their corpses. The segment closes with Hitler decrying the statements as "absurd lies made up by my political enemies."

"Hard to imagine these things could be true. Only time will tell. This has been Ted Koppel with Nightline." Fade to commercial. God bless America.

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