Monday, August 16, 2010

Just a Final Word about Robert Gibbs

I think he was right.
He may not be the most naturally popular person in Washington or even in the Administration, but part of his brief is to keep an eye on the media for the White House and to report back to his boss about what’s being said as such.
I guess Gibbs is a company man as much as anyone who works for an establishment, having to listen, day in and day out, to various and sundry spin spun your way about your company or your brand. It’s never a good company man who turns tail and agrees with the person making the insinuations.
The media tries this all the time. How many politicians have you seen sit in front of a pundit-cum-interviewer and how many times have you seen them try every trick in the book for a gotcha moment?
It’s been well over a year since the first of the Obama-criticisms emanated from the Left, or that part of the media which considers itself Left. Bill Maher, a real Leftie – a Progressive who believes in the Death Penalty, who’s anti-Union and believes in stringent gun control whilst admitting to owning a gun, himself – bragged all of the second part of last year about how he started the real criticism of the President, by saying he’d done nothing after 6 months of holding office. He ended the year with a series of tweets, calling the President “Barry” and likening him to George Bush.
For all of the past 8 months, Gibbs has heard the Professional Left nitpick, parse, second guess, misinterpret and deride everything this Administration has achieved, and – admit it or not – the Administration has achieved a lot – a significant lot. Each time these thought manipulators were proven wrong, they blithely ignored their mistakes and, instead, parsed about the Presidents comments, actions, what-have-you for something else about which to criticize, carp and complain.
They took purism to a new level and, in doing so, became as guilty of deliberate misinformation and delusion as anything for which they ever derided Fox News. In fact, they descended to the level of Fox News in sensationalism, obsession and sheer tripe.
They have become blatant to the point that when they are genuinely challenged, by a colleague or even a politician, they are adamant in righteous indignation, as if they can only be the ones who are right about what a President should say or do, and everyone else is wrong. They willfully take advantage of viewers who, in their own way, are as incapable of critical thought and interpretation as any of their counterparts who populate the Teabagging Rightwing hanging on every word of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.
I read the words of a Spanish-born naturalised resident of Washington state, desperate to be considered a member of the Progressive Left, assuring members of a like-minded forum that she gets her news from Ed Schultz and Keith Olbermann and reads Huffington Post as her “daily newspaper.” Rachel Maddow blithely admits to David Letterman that people watch opinionators’ shows to find out the opinion of the person whose name is on the billing.
Why? What happened to people digesting facts and forming their own opinion.
The saddest thing about all of this, is that the people who buy into this deliberate misinformation, from Rush’s dittoes to theh people who swear by Keith Olbermann and Bill Maher as gurus, political aspirants and saviours of the country, bristle and bite back with belligerance against anyone who dares to criticize these imperfect demagogues’ interpretation of how the President is getting it wrong. They defend these corporate media whores with the same ferocity as a religious fanatic defends his faith, never mind their obvious contradictions. Bill Maher praises the public option all season long on Real Time, then – at the season’s end – discloses to Bill Frist, in an unguarded moment, that he doesn’t trust government-administered healthcare. Ed Schultz berates listeners on his radio broadcast last week to boycott voting in the Mid-Terms to SHOW the White House what they think of them, in reaction to Gibbs’s venting, then praises the White House, smilingly on his television program the following day.
The faithful public don’t bat an eyelid, and the demagogues laugh all the way to the banks which contain their off-shore accounts.
Gibbs was right. He hit back and gave the pundits of the Professional Left a taste of their own bitter medicine, and the ones at which he aimed, showed that they couldn’t take the dosage.
And I applaud Gibbs’s non-apology too. At the beginning of the Obama administration, in the wake of Rush Limbaugh’s announcement that he wanted the President to fail, several ranking Republicans, including Michael Steele, made disparaging remarks about Rush in public statements. Almost immediately they said these things, they rushed to apologise, in an act akin to scores of mafiosi kissing the hand of the reigning don. More than anything this confirmed the fact that Rush Limbaugh, media figure, is the de facto head of the Republican party.
For Gibbs to have attempted any modicum of apology would have been tantamount to admitting that the likes of Olbermann, Schultz, Chris Matthews, Bill Maher and Arianna Huffington controlled the Democratic party and pulled the Presidential strings.
Imagine a country polarised by and controlled by the likes of Rush and Beck on one side and their counterparts Schultz, Olbermann and co on the other. It doesn’t bear imagining.
What’s saddest of all is that two elected Congressmen, both facing stiff competition in the Mid-Terms, should call for Gibbs’s resignation. Keith Ellison was the first, who did so in an interview with Huffington Post, then later tried to wriggle out of that in an interview with his local paper, intimating that Huffington Post lied. While I’m first on the list to question the veracity of HuffPo, with their murky anonymous sources purporting to know the minds of public figures, even they wouldn’t risk a libel charge of actually saying someone said something he didn’t without printing a retraction. No retraction is forthcoming, so one is left to assume that Ellison thought better of his remarks, thinking that perhaps he might need some campaign help from the White House.
I would think that Ellison, the only Muslim member of Congress, might have been better off directing his comments elsewhere, like at the growing Islamaphobia being not-so-subtly encouraged by the Republicans throughout the country, rather than taking time to make petty comments about the President’s Press Secretary which have nothing to do with him at all.
Ditto Alan Grayson, a man I actually admire very deeply for his political passion, courage and conviction; but Grayson’s on television – and specifically on certain programs on MSNBC – a lot lately, and I fear he’s in danger of believing his own hype. To call for Gibbs’s resignation, when Gibbs was directing none of his remarks to Grayson is one thing, but to infer that “a lot of people he knows” refer to Gibbs as “Bozo the Secretary,” was conduct unbecoming a member of Congress. Had Gibbs made comments about Congress in particular, spleen could be explained; but the media serve Grayson and Ellison at their whim, and they’d be well advised to remember that today’s hero is tomorrow’s villain.
Fifty-two years ago, in a speech given to a media convention in Chicago, the great Edward R Murrow, a giant to whom Keith Olbermann dares compare himself in action and mannerism, offered prescient warnings about the state of television, and the danger of it being used, in all spheres as an instrument to entertain, amuse and insulate. Those qualities have entered into the news sphere in a particularly pejorative way, and Murrow is probably spinning in his grave at some of the political hackery practiced by the man who considers himself Murrow’s spiritual son, amongst others of his ilk today.
Let’s take stock of Murrow’s speech, herein recreated by the actor David Strathorne from the film, “Good Night and Good Luck”:-

For those of you who are unfamiliar, it might be a good idea to read about Murrow’s media fight against Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist pogroms against innocent citizens. Throughout it all, Murrow offered little opinion in the way of Special Comments. Instead, he showed the McCarthy proceedings and interviews on film and let the public – a public considerably more innocent and less educated than the public today – decide for themselves.
I would love it if Americans could find their own opinions again, without the help of media bullies like Limbaugh, Schultz and others.

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