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The Hagel Narrative the Neocons Want

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Cross-posted from Wallwritings

Hagel I policy forum crop

The  Daily Beast  is reporting that President Obama will name Chuck Hagel as his next Defense Secretary. Sources in Washington have told Eli Lake, of the Daily Beast, that the nomination will be announced Monday or Tuesday of next week. To read the full story, click here.

Al Jazeera has purchased the struggling U.S. network, Current, which was created by former Vice President Al Gore and Joel Hyatt. Current has failed to compete in the American market but it does have outlets which Al Jazeera covets.

Al Jazeera  has developed a world-wide reputation as a responsible non-ideological network, a fact that must have made the sale more acceptable to Gore and his partners. In addition, according to the New York Times story on the sale:

"'There's a major hole right now that Al Jazeera can fill. And that is providing an alternative viewpoint to domestic news, which is very parochial,' said Cathy Rasenberger, a cable consultant who has worked with Al Jazeera on distribution issues in the past."

For an example of why a less-fettered voice like that of Al Jazeera is needed in our national media landscape, look no further than the mainstream media battering Chuck Hagel (above) has received since word floated from the White House that President Obama was considering him as defense secretary.

The cabinet appointment of a highly qualified Republican senator would normally have been a no-brainer, until, in Elizabeth Drew's perceptive phrase, "the press fed the narrative that the neocons wanted."

Writing in a December 28, 2012 blog posting for the New York Review of Books, Drew explains how the narrative is fed:

"Controversy is so much more fun than balance. Meaningless statements by some politicians are accorded great significance and foreboding: thus a big deal was made in the press of the supposedly devastating comments made by two of [Republican Senator John] McCain's closest buddies -- Joe Lieberman, who will be gone from the Senate shortly ('very tough confirmation process'), and Lindsey Graham ('it would be a challenging nomination') on the Sunday talk shows just before Christmas."

Of course, the narrative works best when it is carried forward from both sides of the political divide. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York had "no persuasive reason to commit on a nomination that hadn't been made." Nevertheless, knowing he was speaking against the putative preference of a Democratic president, said that Hagel's "record will be studied carefully."

This was "interpreted as a serious blow to Hagel's confirmation." Schumer has played this part before in an earlier dissembling drama when he led the charge that forced the withdrawal of Chas Freeman from his appointment in the early weeks of Obama's first term in office.

NBC's Meet the Press host David Gregory has remained faithful to the narrative. On December 23, he led a discussion which reflected the narrative's concern over criticism from Israeli supporters.

A week later, Gregory scored an exclusive Sunday morning interview with President Obama, primarily to discuss the nation's fiscal crisis.

After the President gave Gregory his reassuring thoughts on the nation's economic future, there was just time left for Gregory to ask a political question about the President's second term cabinet.

As a good newsman who works for one of the major news networks, David Gregory had to pose the question: What about Chuck Hagel as a possible defense secretary? He did not mention the objections and support Hagel has received for his stands on Iran and Israel. Instead, Gregory asked the President about a 14-year-old objection Hagel had offered to a gay appointee.

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http://wallwritings.wordpress.com/

James Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced Jim's writings over (more...)
 
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