This is a major story that won't be covered by the corporate news establishment. One of their own is denouncing the journalistic establishment. Dan Rather, a major news figure for decades, is essentially blowing the whistle. This is some of what he had to say:
In our efforts to take back the American press for the American people, we are blessed this weekend with the gift of good timing. For anyone who may have been inclined to ask if there really is a problem with the news media, or wonder if the task of media reform is, indeed, an urgent one... recent days have brought an inescapable answer, from a most unlikely source.
A source who decided to tell everyone, quote, "what happened."
I know I can't be the first person this weekend to reference the recent book by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, but, having interviewed him this past week, I think there are some very important points to be made from the things he says in his book, and the questions his statements raise.
I'm sure all of you took special notice of what he had to say about the role of the press corps, in the run-up to the war in Iraq. In the government's selling of the war, he said they were — or, I should say, we were "complicit enablers" and "overly deferential."
These are interesting statements, especially considering their source. As one tries to wrap one's mind around them, the phrase "cognitive dissonance" comes to mind.
The first reaction, a visceral one, is: Whatever his motives for saying these things, he's right — and we didn't need Scott McClellan to tell us so.
But the second reaction is: Wait a minute... I do remember at least some reporters, and some news organizations, asking tough questions — asking them of the president, of those in his administration, of White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and — oh yes — of Scott McClellan himself, once he took over for Mr. Fleischer a few months after the invasion.
So how do we reconcile these competing reactions? Well, we need to pull back for what we in television call the wide shot.
If we look at the wide shot, we can see, in one corner of our screen, the White House briefing room filled with the White House press corps... and, filling the rest of the screen, the finite but disproportionately powerful universe that has become known as "mainstream media" — the newspapers and news programs, real and alleged, that employ these White House correspondents — the news organizations that are, in turn, owned by a shockingly few, much larger corporations, for which news is but a miniscule part of their overall business interests.