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Dragging the Media Down Downing Street

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Dragging the Media Down Downing Street
By David Swanson, AfterDowningStreet.org

The U.S. corporate media has begun to awaken to the fact that top Bush adviser Karl Rove exposed an undercover CIA agent's identity and then lied about it. But reporters, editors, and producers remain slow to pick up on the heart of the story, namely that this was part of an extensive campaign to deceive the media, the public, and the Congress about the justifications for an unjustifiable war.

The media has also given coverage to the recent bombings in London, but in very few instances has communicated the fact that the Bush and Blair administrations took their focus off Al Qaeda in order to launch a war against a sovereign state with no ties to the 9-11 attacks, and that this was done on the basis of intentionally false claims about weapons of mass destruction and ties to those attacks. There is a danger that Blair and Bush will try to misuse the recent tragedy as they have done that of four years ago, that the media will allow them to do so, and that the result will be still more attacks.

One way to break this cycle would be to provide the appropriate public discussion and congressional investigation of the lies that launched the war on Iraq.

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On May 26, there had been virtually no U.S. media coverage of the Downing Street Minutes. On that day a coalition of veterans groups, peace groups, political activist groups, and blogs launched a campaign at www.AfterDowningStreet.org to demand media coverage and congressional action. This survey of media coverage as of May 31st shows that results were not immediate:

But by the time Prime Minister Blair visited the White House on June 7, a coalition of hundreds of blogs called the Big Brass Alliance, and the work of dozens of progressive radio shows around the country had begun to pay off. By June 16, when 35 Congress Members held an unofficial hearing at the Capitol, Congressman John Conyers delivered a letter with 560,000 signatures and 123 congressional signatures to the White House, and the After Downing Street coalition held a rally in Lafayette Square Park, the Downing Street Minutes had become news. Pundits had begun talking about how the blogosphere now served as a court of appeals when the media blacked out a story -- http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/605 -- , but it's hard to overstate the impact that new progressive radio and progressive print publications had as well.

In any event, the door had been opened. Letters to the editor had been joined by op-eds and editorials and even news stories. The White House press corps had raised the issue twice at press briefings: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/241 . The cable news pundits had acknowledged the story and yelled at each other about it. If there were serious reporters waiting for a timely hook that would persuade their editors to allow them to do their jobs, now was the moment. Alas, either there were no reporters or the editorial wall was still standing. Even news stories about how there were no news stories stopped seeming interesting to editors unwilling to do actual journalism. No polls have been done, but it seems likely that many Americans still don't know what the Downing Street Minutes say.

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In recent weeks, a FOIA request from 52 Congress Members has gone uncovered by the media. A letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee from 10 Senators has passed unnoticed. A Resolution of Inquiry is expected to soon be introduced in the House, thus far unremarked upon. And the three-year anniversary of the meeting on Downing Street that gave us the minutes is rapidly approaching, without comment. Many media outlets in the United States have done one or two stories about the Downing Street minutes. Some have done none. None have created the endless echo chamber that's so badly needed, but which is apparently reserved for celebrities and sex.

So, AfterDowningStreet.org has decided to organize events all over the country on that three-year anniversary, Saturday, July 23, in an effort to create a public discussion, as well as to gather yet more signatures on Congressman Conyers' letter, promote support for the Resolution of Inquiry and the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, and to spread the word about an investigative trip to London that Congressman Conyers is planning for next month.

Over 150 public forums, town-hall meetings, dramatic recreations of the Downing Street Minutes, house parties, and study circles have been planned for July 23rd. See this site: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/526

Now is the time to request a meeting with your local newspaper's editorial board and ask them to write in favor of an investigation. Here are talking points:

Here's another good clip to share:

Ask them to do at least as well as the editorials compiled here:

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Ask them also to run op-eds and columns as good as the ones in this collection:

And now is the time to demand that news operations report the news. Ask them politely, and then protest noisily, until they do at least as well as the articles and broadcast stories collected here:

And above all now is the time to hammer unremittingly at the corporate wall of those worst offenders among the media outlets. No media outlet has given this story the level of coverage awarded to, say, the Michael Jackson trial. But some have completely or virtually blocked it out. Others have covered it dishonestly.

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)

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