The White House Press Corpse
http://www.tvnewslies.org March 2004
No, that is not a misspelling; the word really is corpse, not corps. The body of so called journalists that comprise the entity known as the White House Press Corps died on the same day that George W. Bush was sworn in as President, as ordered by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Definition: corpse – n. A dead body, especially the dead body of a human.
During the past three years, the only greater threat to the survival of American democracy than John Ashcroft and our secretive, non-accountable Bush administration has been the catastrophic collapse of the American journalist. It is painfully obvious that the closer one gets to the White House the harder it is to find any real journalist doing his or her job: reporting important news and investigating the issues that affect the nation and the world.
The independent journalist has always been the standard bearer of truth and justice in this nation. That protection is no more. Today, one can only imagine the consequences of having no alternative sources of information other than the corporate media. For Americans who rely on mainstream sources, the world is becoming more and more removed for reality. For reliable vital information, greater numbers of Americans must scour the fine print of Internet publications from around the world for the most vital information about our own nation. How ironic that the international press has become a far more reliable source than our own media for information about what is happening right here at home.
Our television news networks deliver such little real news as to be a sad joke. It is amazing that these ersatz reporters actually keep straight faces as they pretend to be serious journalists. There is hardly a smirk as they present the latest wrinkle in the Scott Peterson trial as important news. . They seem like children playing grown-up as they pretend to seriously investigate, with great journalistic flair, one irrelevant story after another. As they pass their tabloid features onto the public as real news, they bring to mind a house cat using its hunting instincts to creep up on a can of cat food. There’s something really wrong with that picture!
And yet, these castrated TV news reporters and paint-by-number print journalists almost rise to the heights of an Edward R. Murrow when contrasted to the George W. Bush White House Press Corps. During the entire Bush presidency there has not been a singe real presidential press conference. Not once has George Bush had to answer a question that was not prescreened, pre-approved or asked by a Bush-friendly PR person who happens to have a press pass. And that is an outrage.
In these three years, there actually was ONE press conference where this pathetic group actually behaved like journalists. But it was not President Bush who faced the group, it was Press Secretary Scott McClellan, and the topic was George Bush’s military record. This issue should have been addressed more than 3 years ago, and at this point in history has no relevance on the nation or the world. Still, if you watched that conference you might have thought the reporters were trying to get to the bottom of an issue as important as sending the nation to war. You might have thought they were asking how a cataclysmic event akin to a new Pearl Harbor could have happened under the watch of people who had expressed the need for just such an event. But you would have been wrong. Not a single vital issue has even been the focus of serious questioning. Not one.
The White House Press Corps willingly accepted its collective demotion from journalist to dictation specialist by ignoring the removal of Helen Thomas from her traditional seat in the press room. Not a single member of the group voiced outrage when this occurred. They could have demanded that a free press be preserved, and they could have sent a loud message to the White House by walking out en masse. Instead, the anemic press corps meekly accepted a verbal spanking just as Kevin Bacon did in the movie Animal House. With each question evaded by a press secretary, with each choreographed Bush press conference, and with each follow-up question not asked, you could almost hear these journalists wannabe’s uttering the phrase made famous in that classic film: Thank you sir, may I have another? And so it has continued.
Tune in to a press briefing once in a while. Scott McClellan looks like a man who just swallowed a handful of Viagara. The power he wields over the cemetery in front of him must pump his ego like nothing else possibly could. If a line of questioning suggests that a real answer may be required, all McClellan has to do is point to the next raised hand. He knows for certain that the next timid voice will not dare to risk banishment, or even worse – risk the loss of a Bush-anointed nickname. He knows that they know that there are penalties for following up on the prior topic regardless of how vital it may be to our nation. He knows that they are, after all, a most compliant Press Corpse.
Ironically, the current administration has more questions to answer than the previous 5 administrations combined. Still, the very people charged with holding the President and his cronies accountable have abjectly abandoned the First Amendment. The have obviously decided that their paychecks are more important than democracy. Perhaps, if we consider the record of the Bush administration, we can’t really blame them. Maybe the members of the White House Press Corpse worried that their jobs might be outsourced to India. Not a great loss, considering their productivity.
For nearly a year, TvNewsLies has made a concerted effort to illustrate how the TV news industry has betrayed the public. But we have yet to find a greater disgrace to journalism than the current White House Press Corpse. We have reached the stage where someone should end the agony and just call an end to the farce that is the daily briefing. It is embarrassing, it is sad, and it is a chronic symptom of our increasingly vanishing democracy.
White House Press Corpse: Rest in Peace. We mourn your passing.
Last updated 29/03/2004