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||THE CASE OF THE VACUOUS PRESS CORPS! Wasting time with worthless experts, Meet the Press showed us what the corps lacks:|
MONDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2002
HARDY BOYS BOOKS WERE SMARTER THAN THIS: The following conversation is numbingly worthless. Unfortunately, it opened yesterdays Meet the Press segment about the sniper killings:
TIM RUSSERT: And we are back. Welcome all. John Walsh, what kind of person or persons would kill innocent men, women and children?
Lets say it: Walsh and Fox have no way of knowing who is behind these killings. In particular, they simply dont know if the killer is al Qaeda-related. But clearly, these experts dont know that they dont knowand their type now dominates news channel chatter. Yesterday, we were reduced to having their blather kill time on Meet the Press.
WALSH: Well, this is my opinion, that its a homegrown American psycho, someone that is relishing in their 15 minutes of fame, which has now been extended past the 15 minutes of fame; somebody thats relatively smart and very, very lucky. They figured out, you know, how to kill people, how to terrorize an area, how to cross jurisdictions and how to get away fastget on a beltway, get on a streetthey know the area very well, but, you know, all these theories that it may be terrorist related I think is bunk. If its terrorist related, you know what? The terrorists would be doing it in Los Angeles right now. Theyd be doing it in New York. Theyd be paralyzing those cities.
JAMES FOX: Let us know who they are.
FOX: They would not want us to think that its some psycho from the D.C. area.
WALSH: Yeah. Yeah.
FOX: They would want to take credit for it.
FOX: They also wouldnt be shooting just ordinary people.
FOX: They would be going after prime targets. And certainly they wouldn't be using language like, I am God. So I would agree with you, its not terrorism.
When this guy is caughtand he will be caught; believe me, he will make a mistake and the American public will be the one that breaks this caseit probably will not be law enforcement, well see that its just another homegrown American psychopath who wants to play God and loves his 15 minutes of fame.
Read through the transcript of this worthless session. Russerts questions ranged from the fatuous to the incomprehensible, and the experts are anything but. In the past few weeks, for example, Candice DeLong has been unavoidable on our air. But how hapless is this ballyhooed expert? Stunningly hapless. Read this:
RUSSERT: Candice Delong, before we go, what should a prospective witness, how should one prepare to be a witness?
How far has Americas discourse devolved? Were reduced to learning on Meet the Press that we ought to look for a getaway car, and that we ought to jot license plates down! But in the midst of all the low-IQ chatter came a puzzling claim from DeLongthe claim that the sniper hasnt changed vehicles yet. On what basis can the brilliant gumshoe say this? On Saturday night, the sheriff in Hanover County explicitly said he had no credible description of a suspect vehicle. Any schlemiel watching TV knew this; unsurprisingly, our high-octane expert did not. Finally, Walsh noted that the sniper may well have changed cars. But what does it mean that the brilliant DeLong can make such stunningly uninformed comments? Average viewers know more facts than the experts peddled on Meet the Press. Russert, by the way, didnt challenge DeLongs peculiar misstatement.
DeLONG: Well, if I was in the vicinity of hearing a shot
DeLONG: after I took cover, I would immediately start looking around. Look for a vehicle thats leaving the area quickly. Look for someone getting in a vehicle. And dont rule out the possibility that the shooter may change vehicles. I cant imagineIm wondering why he hasnt changed vehicles yet.
RUSSERT: Dont have tunnel vision simply looking for a white van.
DeLONG: Correct, correct. And
RUSSERT: And jot numbers down.
DeLONG: Jot numbers down.
What does it mean? What does it mean that this addled discussion was offered on what was once our leading mainstream news show? It shows many things about our current press cultureits lack of seriousness; its lack of judgment; its love of repetition and thirst for familiar characters. But mainly it showed a troubling traitit showed our press corps lack of intelligence. In the long run, democracy cant work where the fatuous rule. Do the fatuous now rule your press corps? More tomorrow on the choice of topics on this Sundays talk shows.
YOU WONT HAVE TO WORRY YOUR PRETTY LITTLE HEADS: Before Meet the Press began its sniper coverage, Russert interviewed Colin Powell. Russert asked Powell about the charge that the Admin withheld news about North Korea:
RUSSERT: Many Democrats are now expressing grave concern they were not told about the situation with North Korea before they voted on a resolution for Iraq. Should the administration not have told Congress, members of both parties, so they had this information about North Korea and had a chance to weigh it, as they cast their vote on Iraq?
Powell left a plain impressionthe Congress, in fact, had been briefed. It was odd, then, to hear Trent Lott on yesterdays Late Edition. Had the White House briefed Dems, as Powell claimed? According to Lott, he himself had not been briefed about the Korea matter. Were relying on the CNN transcript; watching the show, Lotts disavowal of knowledge was clear:
POWELL: Its an absolutely false charge. We began briefing Congress on the existence of this program in early September. Once we had our facts straight, once we were sure of the information, beginning about the 10th of September, we began to brief different members of Congress. A number of them took the briefing; others were not available. We briefed their staffers, and theres a whole series of briefings still waiting to go to members of Congress. After Assistant Secretary Kelly got back from North Korea with the news that the North Koreans had admitted this, we also then began briefing people around the 10th of October. So we have kept Congress briefed on this. Not all members of Congress. But it is not right to charge the administration with not having told Congress that we were concerned about what North Korea was doing and we had evidence that they were participating in activities to enrich uranium. Congress has known this. Members of Congress and both parties, both houses, have known this since beginning about the 10th of September.
RUSSERT: The Democratic leadership of Congress.
POWELL: I can get for anyone who wishes to see it the entire list of briefings. It goes to about two-and-a-half pages long.
BLITZER: Senator Lott, theres been reports that the White House did not, did not inform you about the latest North Korean admission about developing a nuclear bomb in advance of the vote on Iraq authorizing the president to use military force if necessary. Should they have at least informed you, the top Republican, the minority leader of the U.S. Senate, of that bombshell?
Clearly, Lott seemed to contradict Powell. But if you read the Washington Post, you wont have to worry your pretty little heads about the apparent contradiction. In this mornings paper, Michael Fletcher couches Powells remarks in a much more general way, and he forgets to mention what Lott said. Fletchers reassuring lead? Two of the Bush administrations top foreign policy officials yesterday refuted charges that the administration withheld North Koreas admission of a nuclear weapons program from key congressional Democrats. By the way, note how Fletchers quotes from Condoleezza Rice do not address the charge in question. Maybe Fletcher dont reed reel gud. But his performance is baldly incompetent.
LOTT: Well, certainly it's very troublesome to hear that the North Koreans have been going forward with this secret system to develop nuclear weapons, even after they promised not to do it in multiple accords. And theyve been getting economic aid because of it. As to when we were notified and how, Im not sure that the mistake was made there. I did not know before the Iraq vote. We were getting briefings as we went along, but they were focused on Iraq and the terrorist threat. So I dont know quite what the timing was.
Of course, this is nothing new for the Post. On two successive recent Sundays, ombudsman Michael Getler used his column to complain about the Posts Iraq coveragein particular, to complain about the papers failure to report anti-war statements by major public figures. And the press corps in general has been very lax in pursuing the Administration for puzzling misstatements. You know the values of that Washington press corps! They were very concerned by the thought that Al Gore was dissembling about those troubling earth tones. (They produced no evidence that he was, by the way.) But when Rice said that no one could have dreamed of planes flying into buildings; or when Bush said that an IAEA report has settled a matter; or when Powell says one thing, and Lott says anotherthe trembling, frightened boys and girls slink off and forget to discuss it. Dissembling about war? Thats A-OK. Dissembling about clothes? Deeply troubling. So deeply troubling that the boy and girls were prepared to pretend that it happened.
Does this issue actually matter? Apparently, Americas major talk hosts think it does; the question was raised on most Sunday shows, and Lott plainly seemed to contradict Powell. If the question was worth asking, the contradiction deserves resolution. As usual, though, the rapidly devolving Washington Post took a pass on the contradiction. Lets see if anyone else tries to scan it. Or is it A-OK to say whats untrue, so long as you dont discuss clothing?