An empty-headed newsreader on CNN just invited me to watch the second part of Wolf Blitzer's interview with Michael Moore, "if," she added, "you can stomach it." She was doing her bit, I suppose, to defend Wolf and handsome Sanjay against Moore's attack yesterday, in which he vigorously demanded an apology from Blitzer for having trashed Fahrenheit 9/11 three years ago. CNN was wrong on every count, Moore raged, and so helped lead us into this terrible nightmare. Moore demanded that Blitzer and CNN apologize for having failed so dismally to do the crucially important job of a free press in a democracy: to find the truth, to disseminate it, to speak it unflinchingly to power.
The comely newsreader and opinion-purveyor (her primary qualification apparently her cheek bones) also referred with haughty disdain to Moore's "ranting and raving." She would have used just that tone, I think, if the story crawling in front of her had been about the rude way Jesus behaved with the money-changers in the temple, and I can only imagine her horror at having to report on Samson and the Philistines. She reminded me of a similarly vacuous partisan, a character in Jean-Claude van Itallie 60s play, America Hurrah, a cheerleader who chanted "Burn yourselves, not your draft cards, Burn yourselves, not your draft cards!" It's another war, another time, but the same battle lines have been drawn again. Whose side are you on? And if you're not for us, you're against us.
The newsreader and her employers should know that a large and growing part of the American public has no trouble stomaching Michael Moore, who is doing the journalists' abandoned work of speaking truth to power. What we can no longer stomach is the neocon fellow-travelers, people who attack Moore so sneeringly, the very people who from their positions of influence have done and continue to do this country such incalculable damage. Why would CNN position itself in opposition to Moore? What are they thinking, the pundits and poobahs? Whose side are they on?
Stomach Michael Moore? But Moore was right! CNN, like the rest of our craven, dishonored media, was comfortably embedded in the worst administration in history, CNN did trash Fahrenheit 9/11, CNN did help lead us into this nightmare, CNN did fail us, and CNN does owe Michael Moore -- and all of us -- a profound apology. All Main Stream Media are guilty of this abominable dereliction of duty. I used to think CNN was better than most, in the days before the execs decided to go whoring after Fox numbers. (How can CNN provide Glenn Beck a regular platform to dispense his bigotry and ignorance with cheerful self-deprecating bully-boy smarm?)
America is seething with anger. More of us every day want Bush, Cheney, the rubber-stamp Republicans, and the American journalists who were and are their willing accomplices out of power and out of sight, off the stage they have so disgustingly fouled. Why doesn't Blitzer apologize, as Moore asked him to? It's a good idea. Let CNN be the first network to apologize, and then let it commit itself to decent, competent, honest work again. That would be so astonishing, and so welcome, it might even bring in viewers -- viewers with intelligence, heart, soul.
Do better, Wolf. Be worthy of your calling. Tell the truth. Admit when you have made mistakes. The time for pompous business-as-usual is over. And please, please stop embarrassing yourself by shilling for "the best political team in television!" Why do you do that? How do you think that makes you look? Do you have any journalistic heroes -- Edward R. Murrow, say, or Walter Cronkite? Can you imagine either of them repeating, over and over, such a tedious and insipid slogan? "This is Edward R. Murrow, speaking for the best political team in television. Good night, and good luck."
Repent, CNN. Judgment is nigh. Good night. Good luck.