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What Would Independent World Television Do for Downing Street Minutes Coverage?
An interview with the creator of Independent World Television
BuzzFlash: I want the BuzzFlash readers to know what you anticipate doing is not just news, but a full-fledged broadcast schedule. The news is one part of it, but there's so much more going on. But I want to get your response as to just how you would see your network handling the Downing Street memo, as compared to what has happened. As soon as it appeared in the Times of London, we had it up on BuzzFlash. Several readers sent that to us, and it was our headline story all that Sunday. The Washington Post didn't run a story for twelve days on the Downing Street memo. Walter Pincus, one of their writers, wrote a piece, which ran on page 18 of the front section, almost two weeks after it appeared in Britain. And most papers in the United States just didn't cover it. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune recently ran a piece by their ombudsman that tried to explain why they didn't cover it. He said we didn't know about it until about a few days later, when a reader of BuzzFlash -- and they mentioned BuzzFlash by name -- wrote to him, the ombudsman, and said I'm reading all these stories about the Downing Street Memo on BuzzFlash.com. How come you're not covering it? And so the guy went to BuzzFlash.com. And the ombudsman for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune said, oh, gee, you know, how come we don't know about this?
I don't know quite what to make of that. Then he brought it to their editor, and they ended up writing a very, very strong and critical editorial lacerating Bush on Memorial Day, which was the first, if not the only, major American paper to call him a liar, and saying basically that our soldiers have died for lies, which was an astonishing editorial for an American paper. But even so -- even though this was a paper that went that far -- they simply didn't appear to know about the Downing Street Memo. I find this unfathomable. How would your network prevent something like that happening?
Paul Jay: This is the whole point of why we need this network. Even when things break through on the Internet, the fact is 80-85% of the people still get their news from television. If you can't break through on the TV, it doesn't break through into the popular consciousness. Of course, we would have covered this. We would have been all over it. You know, Robin Cook resigned from the British Cabinet after seeing all the data. I mean, from the very beginning, we know that the British Cabinet and Cabinet members have said that this case -- and this is just the gun -- we've already had the smoking gun.
What we think is, if you don't do it on TV, it doesn't break through. But if we break through with it on television, then it makes it much more difficult for the rest of the television media to simply ignore these stories.
What television is doing, and to some extent the big-media print press -- is they're treating propaganda as news. They're allowing political forces and corporate forces to create a façade of how the world looks. And they're reporting on the façade as if it's real. I liken it to professional wrestling, about which I made a film. Wrestling press can talk about wrestling theater as if it's something real, even though everybody knows it's theater. Well, the same thing's happening here. If you try to step outside that as a journalist, they call you partisan.
This is what I think was a great problem in the political discourse, particularly in the United States -- if you do good journalism, and you allow yourself to come to the conclusions the facts lead you to, you're called partisan. You're called a liberal if those facts lead you to a critique of the White House. We have to break that discourse. We have a right to come to conclusions based on facts, and not have those facts demeaned with these political labels. I won't buy into that and our network won't buy into that. We'll go where the facts lead us. We're not calling ourselves a liberal network, a progressive network.
The current political culture in the United States is character assassination. Shoot the messenger. "Sixty Minutes" had a story on Bush's military record. The issue becomes, was the document forged, not that the fundamental story about Bush was true. The same thing takes place about the issues of the Koran in Guantanamo. The issue is did Newsweek actually get exactly the right source or not -- but, as it comes out later, the substance of the story was true. Character assassination is being used to refute journalism. Not to say there may have been mistakes in the way "Sixty Minutes" handled something or Newsweek handled something. Maybe there were. But the rest of the media is allowing what may have been mistakes to overshadow the substance of the story, which turned out turned out to be true.
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