UPDATE: After I wrote this post this morning I saw Keith Olbermann put on a heroic performance on MSNBC on this very issue. He covers the Military Commissions Act in exactly the way that it deserves. This is true journalism! Brave journalism! You must watch him take on the Bush administration in a way that no one else on TV has done (not even Jack Cafferty). Watch it here.
We fight this lawless, out of control Bush administration every day on our show -- but not this eloquently. So, God bless Keith Olbermann!
And obviously praise must go to the new management at MSNBC for putting this on-air. I know they just made cuts, but Olbermann survived the cuts and Dan Abrams and others clearly understand this is the one thing that is working on MSNBC. Credit where credit is due. Where I bash the other news directors, we must also give credit to the people who have the courage to do it right. Congratulations, MSNBC.
Now, finally, where is CNN? What have they done to cover the Military Commissions Act? What experts, lawyers or professors have they had on? What have their anchors said about this heinous Act? Let me guess -- neutered neutrality. Something like this: Some people say the bill strips away American freedoms (I doubt they even said this) and others say it is vital to protect us from the boogeyman (you know the one Bush never caught, though we never mention that on-air either).
CNN's cowardice is made all the more stark by MSNBC's new found bravery. Get a backbone, start covering reality or stop pretending you are giving us the real news.
Here's the original piece from this morning:
For a long time now, I have been attacking the mainstream press for not covering this administration properly, for being intimidated and cowered into a submissive neutrality. They are so wrong they have forgotten who they are.
The job of the press is not to be neutral, it is to be objective. There is an enormous difference.
Here's neutral: The Jedi rebels say the Death Star is a peril to the universe, but Darth Vader assures the universe that the empire is trying to protect us from the insurgent terrorists that seek to do us harm.
Here's objective: It's called the Death Star. Its objective is complete control. Darth Vader's tactics are brutal and dictatorial.
But, of course, it's even worse. The headline today would read: Vader Says He Will Keep Us Safe.
That's no joke. Watch me flipping out over a USA Today headline that says almost exactly that here.
People who disagree with me, including my co-host Ben Mankiewicz, say that I get all my information from the mainstream press. That almost all of my quotes are from articles from the major papers, magazines and news organizations. They are right.
I'm an open minded guy. Unlike the current environment where everyone must always be right and never change their opinion or their party loyalty, I can change. I was a Republican until five short years ago (no, five very long years ago). Clearly I am open to new facts and ideas. So, they are right. It's not the reporters. It's the editors. They're the ones who must be fired.
Perfect case in point: The Military Commissions Act. I have now read dozens of articles and even editorials clearly stating how outrageous this Act is. How it fundamentally changes our country. It is a bill that changes the very idea of America. They killed freedom in the middle of the night - and no one noticed.
Why? Not because it wasn't reported. Not because there weren't voices of dissent. But because MOST of the people never heard about it. The editors chose not to highlight it. No headlines. No leading stories. No prominent explanation of the rights that were taken away. No sense of the magnitude of the crime.
I can guarantee you that an overwhelming majority of Americans have no idea what their Congress just did to them. Would they really agree to give up their right to a fair trial? Or any trial for that matter? Would they really be in favor of stripping away core constitutional protections against arbitrary and indefinite detention and an all powerful executive? Would they really want to take down one of the founding principles of Western civilization - the writ of habeas corpus established in the Magna Carta in 1215? We'll never know because they don't even know.
All the public knows is what the headlines read - Bush Says He Will Keep Us Safe!
Oh, that explains it. The cowardice of so-called moderate Republicans, the appeasement Democrats (12 in the Senate, 32 in the House), and the timid, pathetic, putrid editors in the major so-called news organizations in the country will not be forgotten. These are the people who had no faith in the American public. They thought so little of them that they were afraid if it was explained to them, they were sure the people would vote against democracy. So, in their pathetic fear, they decided not to explain it at all.
I can smell the cowardice of the editors from here. If they bother to read this, they will be trembling with anger now. The kind of sweaty anger a coward has when he knows he's been caught. The indignant gasp before submission.
Fight me. Prove me wrong. Tell me the bill wasn't important. Show me how it doesn't undermine our principles. Tell me how Americans wouldn't have stood up for democracy even if you told them the truth. Tell me sweet little lies about how you accurately represented the gravity of the story. Tell me how you stood up for America when it counted.
It hurts, doesn't it? You know you can't tell me those things because they aren't true. Here's the reality. The right wing played you for the fools that you are. They complained and whined and bitched for thirty years about how you were liberal to the point where you were scared of your own shadow. You set out to prove them wrong. You were going to show them you weren't liberal - you were neutral. Neutral, right or wrong. And while you were trying to prove them wrong, you proved them right. If challenged, you would submit. You would report things that aren't true and hide things that were to show them you were neutral.
The facts aren't always neutral, and it's not your job to make them so. Your job is to report the facts, no matter what side they come out on.
The difference between critics of the press on the right and the left is that the right wants the press to report their side of the issues; we, on the other hand, don't demand that our side be covered, we demand that the facts be covered. We believe that the job of the press is invaluable. We don't want to destroy the press; we want to help them get back the courage they need to do their jobs.
Now, you can hate me. You can kill the messenger. I don't care. As long as you get your head out of your ass and start PROMINENTLY reporting what is true. They killed America in the middle of the night. It is now day time, will you run the right fucking headline already?!