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I Was At the Birth...

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At that point I had already spent several hot Huston days interviewing delegates sporting their "The Press Lies" buttons. Some were polite, though it never seemed to dawn on them that the big-ass button staring me in the face was an insult. Others were decidedly rude. "Why should I talk to you," they'd say, "you'll just twist what I say, or flat out lie about it."

I might have pointed out that, in all my years of reporting I'd never once written anything that wasn't true and verified as such. Or that, if I had, I would have been sued which I never was, and fired ditto. But they would have brushed that aside as lies too, so why bother. (BTW, this was long before these same folks had their own media outlet, Fox News, staffed by reporters who actually do have a remarkably carefree and casual relationship with truth.)

The last day of the convention was the finale, Ronald Reagan spoke. He was, well, he was Reagan. There he was, the pseudo-folksy mannerisms, the sugar-coated nostrums, his sideways nod of the head that functioned much as Sarah Palin's wink. By that time I had reached the same point my Scottish colleague had a day earlier. I had had enough, gathered my papers and walked out in the middle of his speech. The conventioneers roars of approval followed me deep into the parking lot.

Over the years that followed I was not surprise to see the seeds of hatred, paranoia, xenophobia and racism, cultivated and nurtured by those empowered by that convention; Tom Delay, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Sarah Palin, et al.

So, when I see clips of GOP brownshirts disrupting town hall meetings I figure among them might just be some of those squeaky clean GOP youth that serenaded me and other working reporters with the ironic chant, "Be fair, be fair." Ironic because, had we been truly fair back then, maybe the nation could have been forewarned, and forearmed. But we, the media, were not fair. We pulled our punches. We were too timid to tell the truth about everything we saw, we heard and we knew about what was happening inside the Republican party. Had we reported all that, they would have accused us of being unfair. The media knew that, and blinked. We put on our blinders and let it go, unreported. Because we wanted to be seen as being "fair," while not being balanced.

And the media learned nothing since. Because, if it had it would be reporting, not just that groups of conservatives were disrupting town hall meetings, but exactly who was orchestrating those fake "grassroots" protests. But if you want to learn about that, you can't turn to CNN or NBC or CBS or ABC... you have to turn to comics, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert or activist news shows like MSNBC's Countdown and Rachel Maddow. Kudos to them, but they are too easily dismissed as biased.
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The decline of civil discord and honest political discord declined steadily after that 1992 convention. And, unless the regular working press starts doing their jobs, it's headed further south which is a terrifying prospect.

So, please, media, be fair... for real this time.
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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a (more...)

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They were angry at the media about lying because, ... by Mad Jayhawk on Thursday, Aug 6, 2009 at 12:03:58 PM
I see you got the DNC/Administration memo on using... by Mad Jayhawk on Thursday, Aug 6, 2009 at 12:19:15 PM
Mad Jayhawk makes my point. Brownshirt behavior is... by Stephen Pizzo on Thursday, Aug 6, 2009 at 1:29:22 PM
Interpretation though is another matter. The GOP l... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Aug 6, 2009 at 1:46:56 PM
Excellent piece Steve.  For more on the death of ... by Federico Moramarco on Thursday, Aug 6, 2009 at 2:15:46 PM
And to you, Jayhawk, the idea that "government opt... by daveys on Thursday, Aug 6, 2009 at 2:25:06 PM
so are Republicans. To say that media is "pro-demo... by Starla Immak on Thursday, Aug 6, 2009 at 3:12:30 PM
made about this article reference that the MSM is ... by Archie on Friday, Aug 7, 2009 at 2:29:38 PM
I see today's Republicans as nazoids.Nazoids are N... by Perry Logan on Saturday, Aug 8, 2009 at 6:04:20 AM
Say what you will, 9/11 wasTOTALLY consistant with... by kwalsh on Sunday, Aug 9, 2009 at 9:47:30 PM