I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Bush administration's chosen journalists -- Sean Hannity and Pam "Atlas"

The Bush administration has adopted an array of tactics to control the news, from threatening journalists with criminal prosecution to paying pundits and manufacturing and distributing propaganda videos disguised as taped news segments. One such tactic, used with increasing frequency and obviousness, is that when Bush officials need to do an interview in order to address some brewing crisis, they will sit with only the most sycophantic and Bush-loving "journalists" who will shower them with praise and adoration in lieu of scrutiny and real questions.

When Dick Cheney needed to do an interview over the hunting scandal, he ran to sit with Bush lover Brit Hume, who, throughout the "interview," sounded like a loving, supportive son as he comforted his kind-hearted dad during a troubled time. Hume had previously conducted one-on-one worship sessions in the White House with the President which would have made Kim Jong Il's press aides envious. Cheney's favorite venue for defending the government's policies is Rush Limbaugh's show. And on Friday, when the Israel-Lebanon U.N. Resolution was announced, Condoleezza Rice chose to discuss it with geopolitical analyst and widely respected, hard-hitting journalist Sean Hannity, who asked her "questions" like this . . .

HANNITY: Our war, the president said yesterday, is with Islamic fascists. Some people took issue with the use of that word today, but that's really what it is, isn't it? Isn't it? Is that the right terminology?

and like this . . .

HANNITY: A lot of people have been using the analogy of the rise of Nazism, and the world fell asleep. There were a few people that tried to wake the world up, Winston Churchill the obvious example.

RICE: Yes.

HANNITY: There were other people that thought that they could negotiate with Hitler their time and have peace in their time. Do you see that analogy? Is that applicable in this particular case?

and . . .

HANNITY: If we assume that Ahmadinejad and his incendiary rhetoric continues, if his pursuit of nuclear weapons continues, must America and the world consider military force to stop him and stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power? I mean, assuming that somebody who says they want to wipe Israel off the map is not somebody you can negotiate with or that wants to go along with the world community, at some point a military option has got to be considered, no?

But all of that pales in comparison to the fact that U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, on Saturday, in the middle of the most pressing crisis the U.N. has faced since he was appointed to that position, decided to sit for an hour-long, one-on-one "interview" and chose as his journalistic interrogator . . . LGF commenter Pamela "Atlas" Oshry of the blog AtlasShrugs, whose views are so far outside of what is mainstream, in equal parts inane and despicable, that it would be impossible to describe fully. I could never do the interview justice -- you really must listen to it to believe it -- but these were some of the "questions" that the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. answered on Saturday:

* I mean if the Israeli, if the IDF, which is, although when I was in Israel, I gotta tell you, a bunch of baby-faced kids. I know they're always portrayed in the media with Darth Vader helmets and the Israeli war machine. I'm telling you, the cutest kids ever.

* Such stock we're putting in the Lebanese government, who is totally kowtowing to Hezbollah. You put every remark by the crying Siniora, I mean, another Godfather moment. You remember Godfather, Frank Sinatra, it was supposed to be Frank Sinatra, he's crying, you're godfather. Same thing happens, somebody slap him. So how could you have so much faith in the Lebanon government? I mean, I want to believe, John. I believe in you. I want to believe.

* So I think one of the things that we're looking at, and many others, is not just assistance for the reconstruction for the infrastructure of Lebanon, as Secretary Rice said, $50 million dollars is our first pledge --

Pamela: Yeah, where's Israel's reparations?

* I was trying to understand how they became part of the government, Hezbollah, and she was saying that, you know, listen, Osama bin Laden was one of, I don't know, 53 children, 83, I'm not sure, give or take, and he had 53 or 23, whatever. She said this is what they do. Hezbollah, 25 years ago, they have four wives, they all have children, they literally gave birth to their voting bloc.

* It's not the only terrible situation in the world, but it's unconscionable to me that this man [Kofi Annan], with, in my opinion, I know you probably don't share it, absolutely no morality, absolutely no spine, is a tool, I think he's a jihadi tool. Yes I do, to make a statement like that, and not to be called out on it, John.

It goes on and on like that. Interviews with Bush officials -- especially the intimate one-on-one sit downs -- have become contests in who can lavish them with the most praise and reverence, who can ask the most glorifying leading questions. The only "challenges" they hear are questions about why they are not pursuing their brilliant policies faster and more aggressively.

Pamela has written one love letter after the next to John Bolton over the past several months. To say that she is not a serious or even stable person is a gross understatement. To describe her accurately would require an endless list of unpleasant ad hominems. The views she expresses on her blog on a daily basis are nothing short of grotesque -- often laughably so. And yet she is the person with whom our U.N. Ambassador chose to sit for an "interview" in order to explain U.S. government policy on the crises in the Middle East.

For several days after Jane Hamsher used a blackface photograph, virtually every news organization covered that incident extensively, with all sorts of demands that the Lamont campaign repudiate her. Bolton and Oshry ended their love fest talking about the work Oshry is doing to support Bolton's confirmation:

Pamela: I know you don't say that. Speaking of political predictions, your confirmation. Where are we now with your confirmation, John?

Bolton: Well, I had my confirmation hearing in July, and...

Pamela: Oh, it provided the most wonderful fodder for the YouTube, and the rest of the...

Bolton: But the Senate foreign relations committee will vote on it, or at least is scheduled to vote on it on September the 7th, and Senator Frist, the majority leader, has expressed interest in moving rapidly. We'll have to see.

Pamela: We have that petition up. Everybody's signing that petition. We're behind you.

Bolton: I really do appreciate all this support. It's just amazing.

Pamela: It's amazing that it's even happening, I have to tell you. It's shameful that it's happening.

Bolton: Keep your fingers crossed.

Does John Bolton support the sentiments which spew forth every day from his supporter, journalist Pamela Oshry? Bush officials have long gotten away with kowtowing to the most virulent extremists who compose the base of their support. Now they are using those same extremists as pretend journalists who "interview" them. Maybe some of the intrepid journalists who wrote all about the fascinating Ned Lamont blackface scandal can take a look at some of the statements made by John Bolton's favorite supporter and see if there might be a story there about the sentiments which are routinely spewed from that crowd. Is this a person to whom top Bush officials should be giving "interviews" and soliciting their support?

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