Double Deja Vu
One of the strangest institutional behaviors I’ve watched in the last 15 years is the US journalism corps, in a totally mysterious truth voodoo mojo dance, snap out of their self-satisfied sycophancy and behave precisely like normal healthy professionals in times when we still had the country. Jon Stewart remarked upon this phenomena the week it became crystal clear Rove was up to his neck in the Plame case: the White Press corps became a pack of fierce snarling righteous truth-bearers, beating the shit of Scotty McClellan for days and prompting Stewart to wonder if aliens had descended, taking over our journalism corps to actually make them functional.
Just last week we’ve watched it yet again with the daily expose of The Dark One in the Washington Post, seeing Atrios describe it as shock in this post, prompting the strange powerful wave of deja vu at the phenomena of propagandists-turned-journalists as the packets swirled in from the ether following the link to Josh Marshall’s place.
Upon arriving the deja starting vuing in a weird double-whammy I’ve never experienced, for Josh has seen the phenomena too years before and written a post precisely the same in tone and context, it was when the press, in another fit of the truth voodoo mojo dance, seriously reported the laughably false wmd administration claims in the run-up to the Iraq war. Josh used almost the same precise text prompting a powerful bong-bong of political memories I don’t want to feel again: the story had been out there for years if anyone wanted the easy task of piecing it together, nothing new to be seen here.
That double deja vu is nasty, I totally sympathize with anyone hit with it.
Gratefully cruising back to normal perception at Glenn Greenwald’s place all of a sudden there was an interview with a rare real journalist, the incomparable Helen Thomas, where she incorrectly stated that our journalists became pod people propaganda zombies after 9/11.
[I wish I could convey how uncomfortable it makes me to contradict Ms. Thomas, for I worry that there’s no way to be respectful about it and it’ll be a mistake. I fucked up my tone in my last piece to Howard Dean and I still feel terrible about it, I don’t know how to fix it yet. It’s never my place to criticize or judge Helen Thomas or Howard Dean, I’ll never be the humans they are or have their accomplishments, ‘n this is just a tiny subjective element I could easily be in error with.]
The US journalism corps starting devolving into pod people right after Clinton got elected in 1992. The base got into a huge fight about who should be appointed the plum administration jobs, and all of a sudden the press got into this queasily sick narrative that the Clinton presidency was a failure before it ever started, the transition was a nuclear disaster that ruined everything. I remember a cartoon about it too, it showed a jogging Clinton in an executive suit, missing a toss of balled paper to a wastebasket while the pod people shrieked the missed toss trashed the entire Clinton presidency.
Then came Whitewater from the industry’s standard-bearing (I know, barfola on what standards those clowns formulate) New York Times, narratives that featured the incredibly obnoxious Newt Gingrich and thus the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. By 1996 Fox News had broken in and it was really all over, they were proud and up-front about being pod people and the US journalism corps has been trying to clumsily copy them ever since.
They’ve done an extremely good job, too, except for these very strange episodes when they somehow snap out of it and perform the rare act of journalism such as the Washington Post Cheney expose, so rare it’s seized upon by bloggers with a frenzy to desperately try and keep our journalists from instantly turning back into pop people propaganda creeps again.
So far nothing has worked, we’re all extremely sorry to know, but someday internet publications might, so chained to our machines we will stay. We can’t get our country back without a real journalism corps, and with the Lehrer News Hour seriously giving a platform to some reactionary freak last night actually trying to tell Americans that Dick Cheney’s fourth branch of government, never seen before in 220 years of our once-great democracy, is a proper understanding of our government, well, we obviously have a long, long way to go.
Pretty pod person Gwen Ifill droned along, never asking this amazing idiot what kind spaceship he came to earth to or if he had the arrogance to actually sit there and tell them next that the sky really is green. It wasn’t as creepy as double deja vu, no, but it was still pretty bad.