Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Libby Commutation

The Libby Commutation -- the President of the United States, in broad daylight furthering a conspiracy to obstruct justice -- would, in a country with a healthy, democratic politics, spark a firestorm without equal.

But, the United States does not have such a healthy politics, and the reason is clear: the Media has been consolidated into a monolithic, corporate, right-wing propaganda machine.

Media reporting on the Libby commutation reveals this state of affairs quite clearly, as various news "outlets" and pundits carefully avoid the most sensitive aspect of the case, and, instead, concentrate on promoting narratives, which distract and disceive.

The PBS NewsHour offered "differing views" on the Libby Commutation: those of a non-partisan expert on the pardon process, who confessed to knowing nothing about Libby's case -- why he was prosecuted, etc. -- and a Republican partisan, who was able to put forth one Republican talking point after another, unrefuted.

The N.Y. Times, never hesitant to publish a White House press release, as long as it is marked "secret", produced a lengthy article based on anonymous (Republican) sources about how the President examined the case at length. (It was really touching, reading about how the man, who had cut in half to fifteen minutes the time he wasted on Texas death penalty cases -- over 150 of them -- anguished for weeks over the case of Libby.)

The pundits were on duty, of course. I won't bother with David Brooks phoning in Republican lies to the N.Y. Times op-ed page, but take a look at the liberals. Timothy Noah, at Slate, was one of the very few, who acknowledged the obvious implication that it was a "payoff for Libby's failure to implicate Vice President Dick Cheney, and perhaps even Bush himself, more directly in the Plamegate scandal", but tellingly, Noah does not endorse this implication or explore it. Noah, instead, argues: "What Bush did was just and fair. It was the right thing to do." Is Noah looking for a better job, or just securing his future at the Washington Post Company?

Of course, the always cautious candidates for the Democratic nomination and the Democratic leaders in Congress did little better. While Republican pundits and politicians spew their carefully focus-grouped talking points, the Democrats seem scattered, cautious and confused.

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