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Gwen Ifill to vastleft, a million dead Iraqis, 4113 dead Americans, and our children who owe $3T: "Fuck off!"

vastleft's picture
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vastleft*:

Many people believe the press failed to do its job in the run up to the Iraq war. Has Beltway reporting changed as a result?

Gwen Ifill:

I am not sure what you mean by "Beltway reporting."

Do you mean the New York Times reporting that exposed the Justice Department's wireless wiretapping?

The Washington Post reporting that exposed the poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center?

Or do you mean the reporting done by Pentagon reporters from the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan?

I continue to maintain that, on balance, reporters tell us more than we would otherwise know, and that the breadth and importance of the stories we break, easily outnumber the ones we miss.

Gwen, thank heavens the media didn't give us more than a few scraps of honest reporting during the run-up to the war! Otherwise, those Pentagon reporters wouldn't have been able to file all that historic Iraq War correspondence (no war = no new Stone Phillipses)! There wouldn't be all those kids with their faces and limbs blown off to add color and heft to your Walter Reed reporting (empty hospital beds = no story)! And if it weren't for the debased media coverage of the Clinton years and 2000 campaign, we wouldn't have had the heroic president who ordered that "wireless wiretapping" (damn you, 802.11g)!

Please forgive me for undervaluing your profession's Serious work: reporting on the damage it's been so instrumental in facilitating!

No doubt you covered many stories broader and more important than the lies and corruption that have pushed our nation to the brink of ruin — with a Constitution in tatters and an economy spiraling out of control — and into the role of a pariah state whose baseless preemptive war destabilized the most volatile part of our planet. And you helped install an incompetent and valueless president and vice president dripping in petroleum while the global environment was ravaged, perhaps beyond repair.

Oh, and God bless you all for protecting America from a candidate with an unacceptably expensive haircut. Thanks to y'all, we dodged a bullet on that one, eh? And probably without a well-earned word of thanks from an ungrateful public.

You're not sure which media I mean, Gwen? I mean this media. And this one. And this one.

I'm sorry I asked you such a trivial and wrongheaded question. If I can get a mulligan, please try this one instead: "What was it like tossing back PBRs with Tim Russert?" Inquiring minds want to know.

---

* UPDATE:

Thanks to Paul in comments for reminding me that the question PBS attributes to me is not the question I asked.

My actual question was as follows:

The media all-but-unanimously pronounced Colin Powell's fact-challenged Feb. 2003 UN presentation "compelling."

As a direct result, the public supported a disastrous and unnecessary war.

What has changed in Beltway reporting as a result of this deadly fiasco?

If this doesn't show the power of the media, I don't know what does. When I saw the post with Gwen's reply, I wondered for a moment why I'd phrased the question in such a bloodless way. I shrugged and assumed I must have been bending over backwards to "play nice."

They actually convinced me that I'd said something in a way that I hadn't said at all! Unfucking believable.

Who, I wonder, rewrote my question? Who had the balls to strip my question of its context and urgency? To deliberately misquote me to keep the Fourth Estate's Oh-So-Serious Mellow unharshed!?

Was it a functionary who thought that Gwen and her colleagues and readers might find plowing through 40 whole words hard work after an exhausting couple of weeks cataloging St. Timothy's miracles?

Or did Gwen rewrite it, so she could take a T-ball swat, shooting toy-derringer blanks about "wireless wiretapping"?

It's verifiably true: The Village is a sac of pus waiting to burst.

Luckily for them, my tone here (though not in my politely written original question, and certainly not in the castrated counterfeit they posted) is "uncivil." This post includes words like "fuck" and "balls." So, clearly, Gwen and her noble industry are on the high road, by greasing the skids for the total debasement of everything America used to stand for (or might have), and enjoying tasty BBQ at John McCain's house, while DFHs like me ruin everything with our petty insistence on truth and integrity and our tiresome concern about the lives and treasure squandered when the most powerful country on earth operates without the barest degree of oversight, despite the billions of dollars spent (and made!) on creating the illusion of news coverage.

In any case, I appreciate that the post was titled "Five Good Answers from Gwen Ifill." I had mistakenly thought otherwise, so it's helpful to know that her answers were, in fact, "good."

UPDATE #2:

Here's what I wrote to PBS's ombudsman...

Dear ombudsman, please ombuds:

http://tinyurl.com/57dr2c

Pardon the lack of civility in the linked post. I’m not very happy with the quality of news media we have in this country at present, and I’m particularly not very happy to have words put in my mouth on the PBS website and to receive an incredibly snotty and ill-considered response to a sincere and important question.

Perhaps next time Ms. Ifill thinks about smacking down a concerned citizen with the high-handed pretense that she has no idea what s/he’s talking about regarding the biggest (missed) story in the history of American journalism, she might instead consider watching this fine PBS program:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/wa...

Thank you in advance for your attention re: this matter.

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bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

"You can lead a horticulture,
but you can't make her think."

Media whores + garden blogging + arcane literary luminary reference = today's commentary trifecta.

Thank you very much, I'll be here all week.
Try the baby seal!

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

Here is the question you asked...

The media all-but-unanimously pronounced Colin Powell's fact-challenged Feb. 2003 UN presentation "compelling."

As a direct result, the public supported a disastrous and unnecessary war.

What has changed in Beltway reporting as a result of this deadly fiasco?

and here is the question as filtered by PBS and asked of Ifill...

Many people believe the press failed to do its job in the run up to the Iraq war. Has Beltway reporting changed as a result?

personally, I think you should raise holy hell with the person who took an excellent, hard-hitting question and turned it into mush with your name attached to it.

Submitted by lambert on

I'm feeling a "heh" coming on.

In fact, more like a "haw."

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by lambert on

I just posted a comment on Ifill's page. Go thou and do likewise, as Paul already has:

Ifill's rhetorical question on Bush's surveillance program is riddled with errors; let's unpack them. She says:

Do you mean the New York Times reporting that exposed the Justice Department's wireless wiretapping?

1. The program was not the "Justice Department's," but Bush's. In fact, portions of the still-secret program were so nefarious that John Ashcroft refused to sign off on them from his hospital bed, when then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales tried to force him to.

2. Worse, the shorthand for the program is "warrantless wiretapping," not "wireless wiretapping." That Ifill gets this wrong is doubly unfortunate; first, because the illegal and unconstitutional nature of the program comes precisely because it is "warrantless"; second, because "wireless wiretapping," considered technically, makes it sound like the program is about tapping telephone lines, when, as we have come to understand, the program is about capturing all Internet data, including email.

3. Even worse, the Times story is an example of complete journalistic malfeasance, since Bill Keller, as then ombudsman Bryan Calame pointed out, suppressed the story until after George Bush had been safely elected, yet another example of the press picking our president for us.

4. And even worse, with presumptive nominee Barack Obama's support of the FISA reform bill, which includes a provision that grants the telcos retroactive immunity for their participation in the program, "warrantless surveillance" has now become an issue in the Presidential campaign. How can Ifill be expected to cover this story if she's ignorant of basic facts on the issues? Wait, wait, don't tell me: The same way our famously free press covers ALL the issues. I knew that.

Unfortunately, I think the only thing NPR understands is money, just like our political parties. Therefore, I won't be renewing my subscription to my local public broadcasting affiliate, which carries NPR. It's unfortunate that they must suffer the pain you created, but there it is; it's the only way to get your attention.

Bottom line: Don't give them money. It's the only leverage we've got.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I wrote:

Your site rules pose a challenge

No profanity? So how am I to properly respond to Gwen's "answer" to my question.

Actually, I take that back. It wasn't my question. It was PBS's lovingly neutered version of the question I asked, but with my name still attached to it, and without any indication (unless one bothered to read a linked page) that it had been edited. I wonder if even Fox News would have done such a thing.

Well, for those who can stomach a four-letter word or two but not a media that has lost virtually all respect for the truth and the solemnity of its mission (as opposed to its aggrandizing and unearned sense of its own Seriousness), my full response is found here:

http://tinyurl.com/57dr2c

Card-carrying_Buddhist's picture
Submitted by Card-carrying_B... on

Might that be because I keep reading things like this that make it explode?

Submitted by lambert on

They never answer me when I ask them questions!

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I've got to take lessons in commenting after spilling my brains on the floor with my rage....

Auntie Meme's picture
Submitted by Auntie Meme on

May the Flying Spaghetti Monster touch you with her noodly appendage.

Submitted by jawbone on

(PBS does have one, right????).

Not only did they change your question, but they attributed words which were not yours to you. Now, I realize the MCM loves to take words out of context, to make shit up, to misquote, etc.; but this is a simple question. There was no need to break journalistic ethics to "shorten it." It was fairly brief to begin with.

WTF???

This is journamalism at its most obvious. And on the PBS website--sickening. Ifill is too compromised to maintain her position on Washington Week in Review.

What a day! Reading this, after reading BTD's take on Obama's new rationalization for supporting the FISA abomination. BTD linked to Greenwald who pointed out that Obama clearly lied, and then to Justice Brandeis who had written about how important privacy rights are.

http://www.talkleft.com/story/2008/7/4/1...

Kinda takes the happiness of the holiday out of one....

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I'm doing my best to make this case in public. Thanks to our friends at Mike's Blog Roundup at C&L and No Blood for Hubris, at least a few folks are getting an eyeful (lame pun alert!) of Gwen's snotty and clueless defensiveness.

I'm more interested in people understanding what the problems are than getting some perfunctory apology via an ombudsman.

As much of a violation as the rewording was, I am even more struck by the astounding lack of perspective evinced by Ifill's haughty response.

The media, through its inattention and/or duplicity on 2/5/03 alone, sealed the fate of millions of people and trillions of dollars.

My grandma used to tell me, "Vasty, if you ever play a major role in the squandering of more lives and money than you can count, try to at least act a little chagrined if someone notices it." My grandma was a very wise woman, but not very powerful. Ifill, it seems, is the opposite.

If there's any living being left to wonder what happened to this once-great republic, founded right around this time of year some time back, if memory serves, he, she, or it need look no further than any surviving media from our famously free press.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Dear ombudsman, please ombuds:

http://tinyurl.com/57dr2c

Pardon the lack of civility in the linked post. I'm not very happy with the quality of news media we have in this country at present, and I'm particularly not very happy to have words put in my mouth on the PBS website and to receive an incredibly snotty and ill-considered response to a sincere and important question.

Perhaps next time Ms. Ifill thinks about smacking down a concerned citizen with the high-handed pretense that she has no idea what s/he's talking about regarding the biggest (missed) story in the history of American journalism, she might instead consider watching this fine PBS program:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/wa...

Thank you in advance for your attention re: this matter.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Like you, I think it is more important that people know just how awful she is. I am constantly amazed at the number of otherwise intelligent people who think that she is one of the good guys.

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

I have no respect for Gwen Ifell. She is a tool, a tool's tool.

Funny that one of the commentator's mentioned Condi Rice. One of the worst interviews I've ever seen anywhere was one conducted by Gwen of Condi; I don't remember whether it was during the first or the second Bush term; I think the first, when Condi was National Security Guru, hee haw. The mess in North Korea was in the news, a mess created entirely by the Bush administrations dumping of all of the work of the Clinton administration, and the talking point of the month from the administration was that the "Agreed Framework" negotiated by the previous administration, which had closed down North Korea's use of spent fuel rods to make plutonium, had been cheated on "before the ink was dry."

This happened to be untrue, because the agreement was strictly monitored, through inspections, through seals on the nuclear plant from whence had come the spent fuel rods, and through surveillance from satellites. You could see that Rice was anxious to get those key words out, about cheating before the ink was dry, but Ifell was so excited to be interviewing such an important personage, she stepped on the line, and Condi spent the rest of the interview trying to get back to N. Korea to get the line in. She finally managed it, and of course, Gwen knew as much about the history of non-proliferation as she does about the 4th amendment, so nothing Rice said was challenged.

Okay, now the quibble.

Lambert, why do you insist on undermining either PBS or NPR by suggesting they are worthless. Yes, Ifell is an embarrassment. But the only piece of journalism that she is able to totally ruin is Washington Week, which has always been worthless, except as a clinical example, because it is the very essence of what is wrong with the SCLM. Even the News Hour retains genuine worth, despite her presence. If PBS is forced to shut down, and that is not an idle speculation, that is what the right has been trying to do for decades, and it is what the Bush administration is coming close to succeeding in doing by means of arbitrary cuts in Federal support for PBS, in particular, it will be an incalculable loss, because the reporting that's done there, as well as on NPR, is being done nowhere else.

Without their example, there will be nothing to which to the utter vacuity of what appears on commercial enterprises like the so-called "Learning Channel," or the Discovery Channel, or the so-called cable news outlets, which do no actual documentary work anymore, except for lurid pieces on jailed prisoners, or phony, even more lurid, investigative work on predatory males, can be compared.

It also happens that the model of a private/public corporation is an important one to keep alive, one that is applicable to all kinds of other programs worthy of government support.

If PBS and NPR are so worthless to liberal/progressives, why has the right always been so keen on shutting it down?

None of the above means that we shouldn't be critical of specific aspects of the performance of either PBS or NPR, but insisting that it isn't worth supporting because of someone like Ifell is actually doing the work of the Bush administration. Believe me, Gwen doesn't care; she can always get a job in what passes for the news divisions of the major networks, whether on their cable outlets or on their network stations.

Submitted by lambert on

Feh. It's not like we haven't tried to get their attention by being nice. So we have to get their attention in other ways.

And that the right wants to do A, doesn't make not-A good, by definition, surely? I mean, Grover Norquist is for Amtrak. Does that mean I should buy a car?

Call it tough love. Hardly undermining. If anybody's doing any undermining, it's Ifill herself. I can't think of a better way of getting rid of her than by causing contributions to drop. Eh?

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

...that we should be complaining about the fact that Ifell didn't answer the question as it was asked; they do have the Ombudsman, I believe, whether it was her doing, or someone else's.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

No it doesn't. Lehrer is just as bad, although he is far more clever with lies of silence, rather than out right lies. During all of 2002 and early 2003 he was one of the worst offenders for conflating 9/11 with Iraq.

Lehrer is also one of the worst offenders in promoting the phony social security crisis.

He has kept silent through out the entire FISA controversy even though it is one of the biggest news stories out there. He sat on the CIA leak story.

He is like Cardinal Law, he knows perfectly well what is going on, but he keeps covering for it.

brucedixon's picture
Submitted by brucedixon on

and the most true. He says they haven't broken a story in at least 15 years. Not one. And he's been saying that at least 3 years.

Whatever they broadcast has always been done before by the Wa Post, the NY Times or somebody else. Seriously, can anybody name ONE story they broke?

Bruce Dixon
www.blackagendareport.com

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

http://www.pbs.org/engage/blog/five-good...

On July 4th, 2008 Sarah Hays says:
I would like an honest answer to the original question sent in:

The media all-but-unanimously pronounced Colin Powell’s fact-challenged Feb. 2003 UN presentation “compelling.”
As a direct result, the public supported a disastrous and unnecessary war.
What has changed in Beltway reporting as a result of this deadly fiasco?

Has the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the NPR's Washington Bureau, the New York Times' Washington bureau, or any of the four "major network" news broadcasters -- CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX -- changed any of its policies, procedures, protocols, or editorial agendas as a result of the more than 4900 GI deaths caused by their chorus in favor of a needless, endless, goalless war in Iraq?

Or are those media outlets still so enchanted with the trappings of power and the camaraderie of the politicians they're supposed to be covering that they no longer realize how co-opted they are?

Notice: no profanity.

No "personal attacks".

Now let's see what happens.

We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill today! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Broke the Rhenquist voter suppression story, the Ginzburg pot story and the Clarence Thomas sexual harrassment case.

But all of those were a long time ago.

Can't think of anything else, but I gave up listening to NPR in 1998.

One good thing WETA has done is given up NPR for all classical music format on their radio station.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Any clues to where that Media Matters link is supposed to point? I've tried searching the archives but can't find a link to this post.

Submitted by lambert on

I think it was on a main page listing of some kind, not an article. That's only a vague memory, though....

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.