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Press Silence on Impeachment
Text of Radio BC audio commentary
October 6 2005
The corporate media in the United States can hardly claim to fill a journalistic role, anymore. The first duty of a real newsperson is to ask questions. But the corporate press can’t bring itself to ask even the most obvious questions, including on issues that are important to a high proportion of the public. When we refer to the corporate media, we’re also talking about the major polling organizations, that work hand in glove with the leading newspapers and broadcast outfits.
To date, only one pollster, Zogby International, has inquired about public opinion regarding the impeachment of George Bush. That was four months ago. Zogby found that 42 percent of respondents would favor impeachment if Bush "did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq." Other polls show that something around a majority of Americans are now convinced that Bush and his crew did, indeed, not tell the truth. The implication is clear: if the corporate media would raise the issue of popular opinion on impeachment, they would find evidence for strong public support. But only Zogby raised the issue, and even they refuse to ask the question again unless somebody pays them to do so. This, as Bush’s polling numbers continue to fall, indicating that there is probably more support for impeachment now than there was back in June.
This corporate media abrogation of responsibility stands in sharp contrast to the frenzy of impeachment discussion to which President Bill Clinton was subjected, less than a decade ago. And Clinton was only accused of bad personal behavior – not of starting a war under false pretenses. We are also reminded of the meekness of the corporate media when President Ronald Reagan employed blatantly illegal means to wage war against Nicaragua, repeatedly lying to the congress in the process. The reason is simple: corporate media is just that – corporate, and corporations prefer Republicans. Corporate owners actively discourage real journalism, lest it threaten their fellows among the rich and powerful. Instead, we get quipsters on cable and pure political hacks like Judith Miller at the New York Times. The market for real journalists has virtually disappeared in the U.S . Journalism schools at universities now share the same department as public relations schools. The difference between the two has blurred to the point of virtual nonexistence.
Thus, an eminently impeachable president whom a near-majority of Americans believe should be held accountable for lying, gets off scot-free in the media. A coalition of anti-war groups is now raising the money to hire a polling outfit to ask the question that the press and pollsters should be asking on their own: should George Bush be impeached?
In the United States, you can’t get news or an accurate account of public opinion, unless you pay for it. Journalism is all but extinct. For Radio BC, I’m Glen Ford.
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