Wake Me Up When This is Over

Forgive me the pessimism, but can you really blame me?  I feel like the Republicans are winning because the mainstream media is letting them and despite the best efforts of those who are, you know, dignified Americans against torture.

There is something profoundly wrong with journalism today if Jake Tapper at ABCNews isn’t comfortable calling it torture.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but well exemplifies the problem.  In the interest of being “fair” to all sides, Tapper qualifies his statement:

In a letter from the Justice Department to a federal judge yesterday, the Obama administration announced that the Pentagon would turn over to the American Civil Liberties Union 44 photographs showing detainee abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush administration. The photographs are part of a 2003 Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU for all information relating to the treatment of detainees — the same battle that led, last week, to President Obama’s decision to release memos from the Bush Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel providing legal justifications for harsh interrogation methods that human rights groups call torture.

Emphasis mine.  It is torture.  I’m willing to bet Tapper thinks so too.  But today’s binary journalism insists that we must give both sides of a debate equal say, even if one side of that debate is wrong.  We should have a Republican and a Democrat on to chat about an issue, we should print everyone’s opinion, we should qualify all of our answers just to make sure no one out there thinks we’re not being objective!  Objectivity be damned.

I don’t care a wit about objectiveness.  That’s not what news writing should be able.  If you have an opinion, state it openly.  And then tell us what you think.  Don’t try and pansy around an issue and pretend that everyone is always debating an issue in good faith.

The job of a journalist is to speak truth to power, to root out the wrongs and make them right, to find the lies and expose them.  But somewhere along the line, this duty became muddled with making a lot of money, getting famous, and Twittering all day long about what you’ve eaten for lunch.

Explain to me why the same pundits/journalists who were so concerned with bringing “respect” back to Washington after the Clinton years, who were certain we needed a reconciliation commission of sorts of find out just where Washington had gone wrong, are so silent now?  Just want to keep walking?  Are willing to debate the efficacy of torture when COME ON PEOPLE TORTURE IS WRONG.

I fail to see what is conservative or Republican about torture.  I’m shocked that despite Bush and Cheney’s unpopularity the Republican Party is willing to defend them — it makes me sick to my stomach to think that there’s a contingent of people out there who are really okay with having done these sorts of things, with crimes having been committed — with actual power-mongering in the style of a banana republic, and yet they have the audacity to say that Obama is the one being dictatorial.  It’s truly disgusting.

I should add that I’m cringing also at a New York Times article from yesterday in which budget reconciliation was described as an obscure tactic, in reference to the Democrats hoping to use it as a last resort if Republicans obstruct healthcare reform with the filibuster. No! Budget reconciliation isn’t an obscure tactic at all! As Steven Benen wrote:

Reconciliation is not “obscure”; it’s a procedure used many times in recent years, usually by Republicans. Reconciliation was used to pass welfare reform; it was used to pass Bush’s tax cut plans; and more recently, GOP lawmakers even wanted to use reconciliation to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Washington Post also made this unprofessional error.  And their supposed to be liberal papers?

Seriously — I’m thinking of turning off the computer and going to live as a hermit. If the Democrats are in the majority and have won some sort of mandate, it sure doesn’t feel like it.


2 responses to “Wake Me Up When This is Over

  1. Did it occur to you that Tapper adheres to news practices set by ABC News, and using a legal term such as “torture” might be up to higher-ups, and not up to him? You might think the term “pro-choice” is accurate and fair, but mainstream news organizations have standards all employees must follow.

  2. From my original post:

    Emphasis mine. It is torture. I’m willing to bet Tapper thinks so too. But today’s binary journalism insists that we must give both sides of a debate equal say, even if one side of that debate is wrong.

    I wasn’t impugning Tapper per se, but the system of journalism that feigns objectivity with a default two-sided debate. I’m well aware that news organizations have their own stylistic standards (that’s how Paul Krugman ended up writing about Astroturf — the company — when he really meant astroturf — the fake grass; the NYT style requires all copy to read Astroturf), but that doesn’t mean it serves the purposes of good journalism.

    Additionally, I don’t understand your analogy here. I do think the term “pro-choice” accurate and fair. If the media wanted to be fair, they would always use the term “anti-choice” to refer to the opposite side of that debate; instead they use the term “pro-life” which implies that those on the other side are somehow “pro-death”.

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