The pundits on public television and radio are as firmly entrenched in the village as are those on the major networks and cable channels. They interview each other, socialize with each other, and rotate in and out of government service, journalistic positions, and think tanks with the changing of administrations and corporate ownership of media. Ray Suarez, for example, can more often be seen on Fox News as a champion GOPher whose contract states that Fox can no longer identify him as being with NPR (they, NPR, were embarrassed to be associated with his views as stated on Fox). While his reporting for NPR may be excellent, I cannot watch it without doubting every word he says, knowing what his own personal views are on the subject. Granted, every journalist and pundit has an opinion, but a good reporter keeps it to him or herself. For a journalist to be a pundit, and an extremely biased, conservative one at that, on one network, and attempt to be an unbiased reporter on another, makes all he or she reports suspect. I do not think one can be both.
A classic example is Cokie Roberts on NPR recently discussing the recent attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day and the ramifications for the president. She stated that,
Hello? Did I miss something? When was President Bush in the military? Vice-President Cheney? Secretary Rice? Oh right. Bush was in the National Guard for a few minutes, although the records show that he was absent more often than not and received his plum spot because of his last name rather than ability. Cheney managed five deferments and his obvious fears for his personal safety were evident in that and his behavior on 9/11 and thereafter. Republicans are very, very good at sending poor young men into combat and their own to officers' training school where they can avoid danger. Democrats who served honorably and earn medals (Kerry?) are smeared.
"Well, it's always politically difficult for Democrats when they are dealing with an issue like terrorism. It remained the Republican's only winning issue through most of President Bush's second term, and it's a particular problem for a Democrat who hasn't served in the military. But the policy problem is that it takes up a great deal of the administration's time, and will from here on out - particularly when the Senate Intelligence Committee starts hearings in a couple of weeks." [h/t Crooks and Liars]
Democrats prefer a party of imclusion, reaching consensus, accommodation, and policies of social justice, so therefore are perceived as weak. Republicans are a party of "I got mine, screw you" and therefore are perceived as strong (by whom, I wonder?). The American ideal of pulling one's self up by one's bootstraps implies that anyone who does not is a failure (that good old Calvinist work ethic again). This ignores the fact that for over 200 years, a very heavy boot remained on the neck of many, many men and all of the women, ensuring that they had no bootstrap to pull.
Waving a magic wand and saying "it's all good now" does not instantly create the back-room networks available to all the good old boys, or change the mindset of the Cokie Roberts of the world that Democrats, especially those who did not serve in the military, are somehow incapable of responding to terrorist or other threats. If President Obama were to have an (R) beside his name, would he then be capable? Is his lack of service any different than Cheney's or Bush's? Or all the other members of Congress who did not serve but yet enact law and set policy?
Did any of these pundits comment on Bush or Cheney's lack of military experience after 9/11? When they planned to go to war? Ever? I didn't think so. So why do we listen and give credence to them now when they attack Obama's lack of military experience as a problem when dealing with terrorists?
What is particularly telling in this statement by Roberts, is her comment that "...the policy problem is that it [terrorism] takes up a great deal of the administration's time." Umm. That's a problem? Isn't terrorism one of the biggest issues facing our country today? We have the economy, global warming, healthcare, and the sub-issues under the economy of jobs, banking reform, and re-regulating some of the areas de-regulated under Reagan and Bush, but still, terrorism and the two wars begun because of terrorism would seem to me to be at the top of the list of important policy issues. Perhaps if Bush and company had spent a little more time on the policy problem of terrorism, President Obama wouldn't have to spend so much of the current administration's time on an issue that Ms. Roberts feels he is so unsuited for.
The Villagers are truly idiots, reporting on serial stupidity. We somehow continue to chant the mantra that NPR and PBS are liberal bastions of the media elite when in fact they are as conservatively biased as the network and cable pundits to whose village club they belong.
Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.