Thursday, May 29, 2008

ABC spiked stories that conflicted with pro-war propaganda

[On Wednesday night, CNN's Jessica Yellin talked to Anderson Cooper about Scott McClellan's tell-all memoir and agreed with the former press secretary that White House reporters "dropped the ball" during the run-up to war.

But Yellin went much further, revealing that news executives — presumably at ABC News, where she'd worked from July 2003 to August 2007 — actively pushed her not do hard-hitting pieces on the Bush administration. [See update]

"The press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president's high approval ratings," Yellin said.

"And my own experience at the White House was that the higher the president's approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives — and I was not at this network at the time — but the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the president, I think over time...."

But then a shocked Cooper jumped in, asking, "You had pressure from news executives to put on positive stories about the president?"

"Not in that exact.... They wouldn't say it in that way, but they would edit my pieces," Yellin said. "They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical, and try to put on pieces that were more positive. Yes, that was my experience."]


Monday, May 26, 2008

Why hysterical Hillary hate?

Reading political blogs lately, even progressive ones, reveals an extraordinary amount of bile poured out on the presidential candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton, akin to what normally describes President Cheney.

Without dog in this fight-perhaps a poor choice of metaphor but I will work for whomever the Democratic party selects--the depth of rhetoric shocks even my jaded sensibilities, coming as it does from bloggers I read regularly like Americablog, sorry Mr. Aravois.

Wih the recent ginned up controversy over HRC's metion of Bobby Kennedy, otherwise normally rational people rushed to claim she should not even use the word "assasination" and equated it to sme racist comment when the selfsame bloggers used it detailing security breakdowns at Senator Obama's campaign appearances.

For the sake of the US constitution in mortal peril under a McCain/Cheney administration, seems to me we ought to tone down the rhetoric, get a beer or other libation of choice, and watch a sunset with no laptop, ipod, 'net connections or other tools of the devil to hand for it occurs instaneous communication breeds excessive vitriol on all sides.

The inimitable Paul Krugman agres with me in his column today, "So what should Mr. Obama and his supporters do?

Most immediately, they should realize that the continuing demonization of Mrs. Clinton serves nobody except Mr. McCain."

Also with 2 talented nieces, both of whom I'd like to become US President someday, the conundrum facing succesful women--a take charge female boss gets perceived as a "bitch" while identical actions by a male manager evoke descriptions as strongwilled--makes me fear them someday bumping up against a glass ceiling.

This has a historical context also, perhaps starting with literal witch hunts in Middle Ages when some reports exist of female populations nearly wiped out in some areas.

Please read the Chicago Tribune column in entirety at,0,4333714.column

[...Revealed in the coverage of Clinton's campaign is the persistence of an ancient and distasteful cultural theme: the powerful, ambitious woman as cackling fiend, as fantastically terrifying ghoul threatening civilization. And because this creature (or "she-devil," as MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews called Clinton) is not human, the only solution is to kill it. Not just derail its career—obliterate it. Smash it to smithereens. Vaporize it. Leave not a trace of the foul beast behind.

Hence the appalling preponderance of violent, death-infused imagery in conversations about Clinton, smuggled into otherwise ordinary political discourse like a knife taped on the bottom of a cake plate: On CNN, pundit Alex Castellanos said democrats must realize that "it's time to take the family dog to the vet." Matthews' MSNBC colleague Keith Olbermann expressed the hope that "somebody will take her into a room—and only he comes out." CNN's Jack Cafferty gleefully floated the specter of Clinton being run over by a flatbed truck. A recent Tribune editorial compared Clinton to a euthanized Kentucky Derby contender...

One of the most barbaric medical procedures ever performed legally in this country was the lobotomy, and a look at its early history is chilling. As Jack El-Hai recounts in his book, "The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness" (2005), the frightening operation that could leave patients catatonic or dead often was employed as a way to deal with "difficult" women, with wives and mothers who had minds of their own, with willful daughters and headstrong sisters. The message was clear: Do whatever you have to do—but shut her up.

The notion of a powerful, driven, influential woman as a hideous threat—a threat that can be curtailed only with her death—ripples through literature, from the D.H. Lawrence novel "Sons and Lovers" (1913), with its protagonist's conviction that he must escape the clutches of his looming, clingy mother if he is ever to realize his destiny, to the 1962 novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey, with its way-scary female character: the loathsome, larger-than-life Nurse Ratched. The joyless, hulking harridan who wants to keep her patients drugged and miserable so she can control them. From the Furies in Greek literature onward, the women-as-mythical-monsters theme has shrieked, flapped and lurched its way through the arts.

These observations, by the way, have nothing to do with the issue of Clinton's or Obama's continued candidacies. That's a subject to be debated on the editorial pages, not here. This corner is reserved for cultural imagery, for a spirited exploration of the way a shared belief or preoccupation ultimately manifests itself in our entertainment products. Such an idea is like a splinter driven so deep, resting undisturbed for so long, that for a time you may not even be aware of it. Then slowly, slowly, it begins to work its way to the surface. One day, the sharp tip breaks the skin, and you see what's been down there all along, spreading its poison.] emphasis added

So please give my hope for my nieces a chance.