Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Truth to power, then & now

Think my previous post was a little too rough on the fourth estate?

Consider this Vietnam-era story by the recently late, great David Halberstam:

On this particular day, the briefing was different, given not by a Major but by a Major General, Dick Stilwell, the smoothest young general in Saigon. It was in a different room and every general and every bird Colonel in the country was there. Picture if you will rather small room, about the size of a classroom, with about 10 or 12 reporters there in the center of the room. And in the back, and outside, some 40 military officers, all of them big time brass. It was clearly an attempt to intimidate us.

General Stilwell tried to take the intimidation a step further. He began by saying that Neil and I had bothered General Harkins and Ambassador Lodge and other VIPs, and we were not to do it again. Period.

And I stood up, my heart beating wildly -- and told him that we were not his corporals or privates, that we worked for The New York Times and UP and AP and Newsweek, not for the Department of Defense.

I said that we knew that 30 American helicopters and perhaps 150 American soldiers had gone into battle, and the American people had a right to know what happened.

And then this story, by the unfortunately still very much employed at the New York Times Elizabeth Bumiller:

I think we were very deferential, because in the East Room press conference, it's live. It's very intense. It's frightening to stand up there. I mean, think about it. You are standing up on prime time live television, asking the president of the United States a question when the country is about to go to war. There was a very serious, somber tone that evening, and I think it made -- and you know, nobody wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time.

I guess if I was as pussified as our press, I'd be afraid of arguing with that dipshit, whiny-ass excuse for a man what's currently sitting in our White House, too.

Except I'm not. And at the risk of causing undue excitement in any agency that might be monitoring this blog (Hey boys. How you doing? Love your tie.) for seditious speech, let me tell you that if I ever met up with that Karl Rove motherfucker at some fancy dinner party, one of us would be wearing his entree home.

(Quotes from Glenn Greenwald's wonderful tribute to Halberstam and condemnation of the Washington press.)


cheer34 said...

I like your fighting spirit. Can you cover the White House press room? I believe the era of indendent and ballsy news gathering is over. To many are trying to be politically correct, afraid of losing a job, not intelligent enough to question the information being released, and plain lazy.

I was happy to see that the Tillman family has the balls to say what is what. Gotta love the mom.

Skylers Dad said...

Can we start a fund raiser to send Vikki to meet Karl? Now that's a cause I could get behind!!

deadspot said...

Oooooooh! It's ON! Vikki and Karl are gonna throw down...

I'll kick in, as long as I get to watch.

deadspot said...

We should start raising bail money too.

Spooney said...

Man, you should have seen what Vikki did to Rumsfeld that time we saw him at The Viper Room!

My Side of The Bed said...

Our current press corps should be ashamed. Not digging for extra info because you're on live TV? Give me a break. It is your JOB! There is a great PBS special airing tonight about how the press were Bush's lapdogs in the lead-up to war. Check out www.thinkprogress.org for a teaser clip.

Great post!


Chris said...

Nowadays, the closest thing we have to a reporter holding someone's feet to the fire can be found on Comedy Central. Sad.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Cheer34: I like your taste!

SkyDad: Just like a liberal, to try and solve a problem by throwing money at it.

DeadSp: You can pony up for the pay-per-view just like everyone else.

DeadSp2: Um, I don't know if you've heard, but when you fuck with BushCo, there is no "bail."

Spooney: Baby, that wasn't Rumsfeld. That was Jeremy Piven.

MSotB: Good call on the Moyers plug: http://thinkprogress.org/2007/

Chris: Yeah, it's a crazy phenomenon, isn't it? If it's any consolation, surveys have shown that the people who watch Comedy Central know more about the news than those who watch Fox, as well.

dad said...

When I read your previous blog, I pictured you as a WH reporter, knowing you would be respectful but insistant and framing your questions so well that avoidance would be realy difficult. I also remembered how Sam Donaldson and Dan Rather stood up as WH reporters. It helped them advance their careers.

I can see you saying something like, "Mr. Turd Blossom sir, now that the WH has been pressured into admitting the existance of global warming, how do you plan to demonstrate that its not related to carbon dioxide emissions cause by fossil fuel use and has the decider determined its all part of God's plan?"

vikkitikkitavi said...

Dad: It's like you WANT to see me in Guantanamo.

Larry Jones said...

Damn! This post reminds me that I forgot to watch Bill Moyers' PBS special tonight. He was on this morning for a whole hour with Amy Goodman on her great show "Democracy Now" (KPFK 9-10 AM).

Must find out when they're repeating it.

Johnny Yen said...

This shit has gone on since Reagan, and I'm tired of it.

Isn't it ironic that as an alternate source for news-- the internet-- has grown by leaps and bounds, the traditional sources of news have pussified, and dropped the ball, and sat there wondering why people are leaving their media in droves.

sv said...

One of my best friend's brothers is a columnist for the Washington Post who played a roll in the Scooter Libby drama. A few years ago, my friend and I were talking about how neither of us would want to have anything to do with the Beltway scene. I asked him how his brother does it. He said that his brother someday hopes to break really big story. Then, as now, I didn't think that being lied to daily would be worth it.

sv said...

Roll? Role. Dang, I need keyboard lessons. Is your dad available?

redcap said...

They just don't make 'em like Halberstam et al anymore. Am I right in guessing that the Neil with him in that conference was Neil Davis? He was one of the old school too - an absolutely kick-arse photojournalist.