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Gonzalez's Head on a Platter: Some Thoughts about Power and the Corporate Press

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A couple of days ago, on NPR's All Things Considered, Senator Patrick Leahy was interviewed. Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was talking about the unfolding scandal involving the firing of the U.S. Attorneys.

I got the distinct impression that Leahy was not eager for any quick resignation from Alberto Gonzalez, that he would much prefer that he still be Attorney General when he comes before the Judiciary Committee to testify under oath.

If I'm right about Leahy's desire for Gonzalez to stay in place while this scandal plays out further, I would heartily agree with the Senator: much better for the president's loyal lackey to remain a vital organ in the body of this presidency as the press and the public explore the meaning of these corrupt developments.

When someone resigns, then the press and the public --or at least this is my intuitive sense of it-- give less regard to the reality that their past conduct discloses. "He's out of power now," the thinking seems to go, "so this isn't a problem that needs to concern us so much."

So I hope that Gonzalez and Bush dig in their heels, and thus keep the toxin at full strength and in full public view while the meaning of this corruption of our justice system gets excavated and displayed for the whole nation to see.


With every passing day, however, it appears increasingly unlikely that Gonzalez will survive this scandal. Republicans have begun to call for his resignation-- a sure sign that they understand that the gangrenous part is a threat to the whole Party. The picture --as revealed by the rounds of email disclosures-- becomes more revolting all the time.

The fall of Gonzalez will be a major signal of the collapse of Bushite power. Gonzalez, after all, is very close to the president. And if Bush cannot protect Gonzalez, then Bush's weakness is revealed. (This will be even more true, of course, if Karl Rove were to fall-- a possibility that will likely soon become the focal story of this unfolding drama.)

Here is my thought about an important side-effect of this scandal.

As Gonzalez (and perhaps Rove) are compelled to depart, such a revelation of Bush's weakness will lead to a significant non-trivial in the press's coverage of the Bushite regime. I make that prediction on the basis of this idea:

What governs the mainstream corporate press's coverage of politics is a simple principle. That principle is that the press sucks up to power, especially to that power that it perceives as able and inclined to reward its friends and --perhaps especially-- to punish its enemies.

Many of us have speculated on why it is that the press has been so craven and irresponsible these past six years, virtually ignoring one of the biggest stories in American history: the takeover of America by the forces of evil or, to express it in different terms, the assault on the American system of government and the dragging of the American polity down the road toward fascism.

Some of that speculation has centered around the fact that powerful corporations own these media and that they are glad to make common cause with the fascists. There may be truth to this, but I suspect it is not the central truth. (I except here Rupert Murdock who, unlike the three traditional networks, is a full ally of these Bushite forces.)

More central, I believe, is simply the cowardly craving for the ease and advantages that accrue to sucking up to power-- and particularly the safety that comes from doing the bidding of a dark and vindictive power like that of the Bush-Rove-Cheney-DeLay clique.

We've already seen, over the past two years, a gradual increase in the willingness of such craven news media organizations to expose the moral nakedness of this wolf-in-sheep's-clothing Emperor. As Bush has weakened, the press has gradually been removing its blinders.

The weakening up until now has been Bush's drop in the polls. But that drop has really pretty much stalled out for the past year, as we get down to the 30 percent or so who apparently cannot be budged by any truth.

But the fall of Gonzalez may signal a new stage in the weakening of the regime. And thus I anticipate that when that occurs, the media will suddenly "see" more of the evil of the Bushites and will just as suddenly start finding admirable qualities in the Democrats that had somehow escaped their notice before.

Such, regrettably, is the effect of power in a media system lacking in integrity.
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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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