Friday, November 26, 2004

Tom tom club

We watched the Brokaw 2 hour wrap up show tonight, and it wasn't as excremental as I thought it might be. They picked unarguably important highlights of American history over the last 3 decades, and reported them ...well, fairly straight.

Watergate was given a properly sober review, and while it made it clear that the undoing of Nixon was by his own hand, it didn't really discuss what an evil bastard he really was. Nor did it touch on Nixon's comparison as a Republican to today's Party. The movement conservative of today wouldn't recognize Nixon as one of their own if he were a contemporary figure. In fact, as far as policy goes, he was in many ways to the left of Clinton (EPA anyone?).

And Reagan, saintly charismatic figure as he was portrayed, was not connected with any of the truly despicable acts that took place under his watch (air traffic controllers, United Farm Workers).

And the only presentation of GWBush was, interestingly enough, an interview by Brokaw shortly after the election. To paraphrase:

Brokaw: Pres. Clinton is leaving office with a 68% approval rating, that would indicate that most Americans are happy with the direction he was leading America.

Bush: Yeah, well, I'm the President now.

With that much grace and charm presented by a politician, better to let his own words speak volumes.

But the real insight was in watching Major Tom as a young'n, reporting on, for example, Watergate. With some fire, and with some actual injection of opinion, he stated that "It is clear that the end is near." Not just the talking points, but actual reality.

Doesn't he get the irony, that today's braying yet emasculated press personalities simply will not, except in few cases, actually state WHAT THEY THINK!. The right wing press comes close, sadly, with Hannity, O'Reilly, et al stating their pre-programmed points: "The Left sucks/is morally bankrupt/is not to be taken seriously/is still in the thrall of Clinton" etc. etc. etc.

And yes, there are comparitively minor players out there: Al Franken & Air America Radio, Molly Ivins, Jim Hightower, Robert Scheer, Greg Palast, David Brock & Media Matters as well as all the wonderful bloggers working for the progressive movement (see my links, and follow those to even more).

But Tom sadly points out his own irrelevance, as he has fallen into his dotage, where he and the tragic Dan Rather, once the young lions of the press, not afraid to take on the icons and powers of the day, have been reduced to mere scribes, reporting not news but kibble fed to them by political machines.

I'm sure somewhere tonight, Walter Cronkite was watching, and I'm sure he was saddened. We've gone from journalists who dug, clawed and fought for the truth, to Tim, Chris, and Tom, paper tigers with no substance.

If Watergate happened today (WMDs in Iraq, Florida 2000, Abu Ghraib) it would be treated as a minor burglary, and quickly forgotten while we discussed Kerry's cowardice in Viet Nam, Dean's scream, Edward's hair...hey, wait...that's exactly what happened.

Arrrggghhhhhhhh! I though it was all a bad dream!