The hotly contested battleground state of Pennsylvania settled in last night for their regularly scheduled TV programming. What they were not aware of is that the GOP had decided that there was one show last night they did not want them to see. CBS aired 60 minutes at 8PM, as they always do. Last night the main story was an interview with former Lt. Governor of Texas , Ben Barnes. For those of you who may not be aware, or live in or around Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Ben Barnes has recently confessed to pulling the strings that got George Bush into the Texas Air National Guard, jumping him ahead of more qualified candidates for the coveted spot that would mean avoiding have to go overseas and fight in the Vietnam War.
At about the time 60 minutes was due to come on the air, A CBS affiliate in Scranton-Wilkes-Barre , Pennsylvania went off the air. The official excuse from a news director was that, "Our transmitter busted. " Miraculously, the "busted transmitter " was working again at 9PM, when you guessed it, 60 Minutes was over. The station was flooded with complaints which were met with derisive response such as "this is not part of a right-wing conspiracy ", "get a life ", and "take it up with CBS if you got a problem ". The station in question, WYOU has also refused to re-broadcast the episode, lending further credibility to the fact that it was pre-arranged. One angry viewer correctly noted that NBC is carried on the same duopoly in that area yet experienced no such problems with their programming.
Here is the kicker though. WYOU is one of several affiliates owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group, whose chief executive is a Texas millionaire named Perry Sook. Mr. Sook is a contributor to Republican candidates and Republican special interest groups. Now, what are the chances that a "transmitter busted " only during the one hour where someone was going to be very critical of the president, on a network that is run by a chief GOP contributor?
Nexstar is a company that puts together monopolies of local media by placing them under umbrellas. Not coincidentally, these monopolies have thrived under the non-regulatory president we currently have. Under a John Kerry presidency, these types of monopolies are in danger of being broken up. Mr. Sook has been very supportive of the current regulations, or lack thereof, of the Bush administration.
Pennsylvania was not the only location that experienced problems with the airing of this 60 Minutes episode. Two localities, one in Oklahoma and another in Indianapolis both tried to air the 60 Minutes show after 2 AM, instead of the regularly scheduled time. After many viewer complaints, the affiliates gave in and showed it in prime time. Another affiliate in Texas did not cave in and aired the show at 1:35 AM. Lastly, some Direct TV subscribers in Illinois said that they were not able to see the show either.
Now, if you think Ben Barnes is not newsworthy, you are entitled to that opinion. If you think it is not news that a sitting president who has always said he had no strings pulled for him to get into the guard, now has a witness saying that he is a liar, again, you are entitled to your opinion. What this is though, is government-controlled media. That is not democratic and not what this country was founded on. The administration of course will play dumb. The offending affiliates try to pass off fanciful explanations, which do not pass the smell test. What this comes down to for those of you in Pennsylvania is that Bush and his supporters want to decide what you should and should not watch. Last week the administration admitted that George Bush views America as a ten-year old child. Last night he hit the parental control button on Scranton-Wilkes-Barre and we all should be outraged.Story Number Two Censoring Anti-Bush Book
Kitty Kelley has a new book coming out next week, called "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty". As one can imagine, it is not entirely flattering about this president or his family. Ms. Kelley has previously done unauthorized biographies of Frank Sinatra and Nancy Reagan. In the Bush book, she recounts interviews with Sharon Bush, the former wife of the president's brother Neil. Their divorce was messy to say the least and at one point Sharon was more than willing to discuss the inner workings of the Bush Dynasty. If you do not remember there were tales of Neil having sex with women who showed up uninvited at his hotel rooms in Asia ; he had an affair and may have fathered a child out of wedlock; and he stood to make millions from businesses in which he has little expertise.
In the Bush book, Kelley reaffirms the allegations of a younger GW Bush doing cocaine regularly at Camp David . Today of course, with the divorce years behind her, Sharon disavows these comments. Unfortunately for her, Kelley has a third party witness when Sharon made the caustic allegations.
Now, I do not pretend to know if what Ms. Kelley has printed is true but the response from the administration is revealing into how much they believe they can control the mainstream media. A representative of the White House recently called Neal Shapiro, president of NBC News, to discourage the network from broadcasting interviews with Ms. Kelley about the book on its "Today'' program and on its MSNBC cable program "Hardball With Chris Matthews,'' a network executive said. Additionally, The Republican Party distributed a memorandum this week to conservative radio talk show hosts listing tawdry, unproved assertions in Ms. Kelley's previous books, especially her biography of Nancy Reagan. Ed Gillespie, the party chairman, sent a letter to supporters portraying her book as a tool of the Democrats' campaign.
"This book is fiction and deserves to be treated as such,'' said Christine Iverson, a Republican spokeswoman.
Really? First lets deal with the double standards employed by this administration. Months ago an obscure group of disgruntled Vietnam veterans appeared out of nowhere with some commercials attacking John Kerry and $200,000 in their hands from a prominent republican backer. These "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth " have been disproved multiple times. They have been exposed as liars who were only sent out to attempt to smear John Kerry. Even republican senator John McCain came out and asked the Bush administration to condemn the group and their ads. The president did not. Those in support of the president screamed "free speech " to anyone who correctly suggested the SBVT should be paid no mind. Three of the swifties have been proven now to have actually worked for the Bush campaign, which still insists on their fairy tale of having no involvement. Recently, one of the swifties was awarded a 40 million dollar contract by the Bush administration. Payoff anyone?
The point is that we have seen the SBVT on every mainstream media outlets, on multiple shows spewing their lies for all to hear. Apparently the free speech mantra only works for Bush when the speech is against his enemies and not against him. I respectfully note to Ms. Iverson that the SBVT were fiction, yet it was ok for them to be rammed down our collective throats for the past three months so what is good for the goose, as they say.
What is perhaps more frightening is that the Bushies must have thought that calling Shapiro would work. It makes one wonder what other topics they have called the media and asked them to downplay or not give airtime too. Maybe this explains why we hear more about the Vietnam War than we hear about Bush 's war in Iraq ?
Please note the other censorship attempt by the Bush administration. They handed out talking points to their conservative radio base to smear and discredit Kelley before the book is even released! This should give you a window into what you hear on talk radio. You are merely getting what Bush wants you to hear. How chilling is that? We are raised to believe that our media is there to keep us informed, but in latter day America it has been reduced to nothing short of propaganda. This should give everyone who relies on talk radio pause. The Rush Limbaugh 's of the world take their marching orders from the Bush administration. While this is no surprise to me, it may be to some loyal listeners who assumed they were getting the opinions of their favorite radio personalities, not of George W. Bush. This episode proves that the Sean Hannity 's of the world are nothing but shills, pimping for the administration while pretending to be formulating independent opinions.
While I give proper credit for NBC coming clean about this Orwellian episode one still must wonder if they are even aware of the media slant that is still given to the Bush administration. Yesterday was a day of blockbuster admissions and new proof that our current Commander in Chief has lied about his service to this country and that he was actually AWOL. New revelations include:
- Disobeyed a direct order to get a physical
- Bush asked how he could avoid required drills for five months because he would be "too busy " working on a political campaign.
- Failed to fulfill a pledge he signed, to join a Massachusetts Guard Unit when he moved to Boston .
- Bush 's commanding officer complained of being pressured to "sugarcoat " Bush 's review despite his "failure to perform " to Guard standards and the Bush "made no attempt " to maintain his flight status.
- Texas oilman admits that strings were pulled to get Bush into the Guard, contradicting years of Bush 's assertions that he received no preferential treatment.
- Members from the Alabama Air National Guard now reveal that Bush never showed up there either after his transfer from Texas .
- Appearance of some intervention on Bush 's behalf to secure his honorable discharge.
Despite all of these allegations about our sitting president, what was the lead story tonight on the MSNBC flagship show, Hardball? It was about yet another smear attempt on John Kerry backed by Bob Dole. The new documentary, "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal " is more debunked nonsense about Kerry. This time the allegations are that Vietnam POW 's were exposed to Kerry 's antiwar statements while still prisoners. Unfortunately for the people making the accusations, there are other POWs from the SAME prison camp who are on record now as calling the accusers "full of it. "
So, in light of the many substantiated accusations against Bush, which the White House has not even disavowed, Hardball spent the first half-hour dealing with more disgruntled veterans who have no credibility. That is but a microcosm of the problems in the coverage this election season. There needs to be a balance in the stories that are covered. NBC did the right thing by admitting to the strong-arm tactics of this administration in trying to get them to not cover a potentially damaging story for the president. Now we need to see how they respond with their story selection and coverage. Only then can we have some faith restored in our media and our system, to ensure that Bush does not manipulate ALL media. Certainly FOX News and conservative radio shows will always be the propaganda arm of the White House but most people do not see that as honest media anyway. It is the mainstream news that must start coming back toward the center and truly serve the interests of this country.
Anthony Wade is co-administrator of a website devoted to educating the populace to the ongoing lies of President George W. Bush and seeking his removal from office. He is a 37-year-old independent writer from New York with political commentary articles seen on multiple websites. A Christian progressive, and professional counselor, Mr. Wade believes that you can have faith and hold elected officials accountable for lies and excess.
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