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Friday, May 27, 2005

The Secret Downing Street Memo: Where We Are Going

Blogged by JC on 05.09.05 @ 10:55 PM ET

The Secret Downing Street Memo
Where We Are Going

On talk radio today, and on the Internet, there is a palpable frustration about the lack of mainstream media (or as many appropriately call it, "corporate media") coverage of the secret Downing Street memo. I share this frustration. In my view, it is inexcusable that the cable news networks and the major newspapers have failed thus far to give this story the attention it deserves. At its core, the disclosure represents a vindication of the assertions of all of us who opposed the war, and truth-telling former Administration officials who were smeared for daring to provide the public the information it is entitled to. More importantly, it shows an Administration that appears to have lied to the American people and their elected representatives, while simultaneously telling the truth to the representatives of the British people, about the most grave matter for any nation -- the decision to go to war.

To be sure, there is more coverage in the last three days about this than in the previous week. A new story by Knight-Ridder puts an appropriate context on the letter I circulated, and -- while scant -- CNN at least saw fit to mention the letter over the weekend.

However, if you will excuse the sports analogy (the NBA playoffs are in full swing and my Detroit Pistons are the defending champions), in basketball, it is frequently the case that a team will feel it is getting a series of unfair calls from the referees, and will expend so much energy worrying about the lack of fairness, that it loses track of its game plan.

A smart team, on the other hand, will adopt a two-tier strategy. They will work the refs, meaning complain about the calls, and try to urge the officials to do better. But, more importantly, they will simply play harder so that the bad calls will not be outcome determinative.

How does this apply to the situation at hand? As Eric Alterman has noted in his book What Liberal Media?, the right-wing has made its fortunes by loudly complaining when the media fails to do its bidding or -- as Alterman dubs it -- "working the refs". We must do the same. In letters to the editor, newspaper ombudsmen, calls to talk radio, and diaries on liberal websites, we must loudly decry the media's failure to cover this important story. Please continue to do your part to bring this story to the attention of the cable networks and major newspapers, as well as your elected representatives. Don't give up. I assure you I will press ahead in every way to get this story this coverage and context it deserves.

More importantly, we must put aside the dereliction of duty of the corporate media and simply fight harder for our nation. A media that fails to serve the public interest cannot be our source of validation or our barometer of political success. We must continue to beat the drum on talk radio, liberal websites and other alternative media. When you see the furor this story generates in the alternative media, that should be sufficient for you to know that many, many people recognize this serious breach of the public trust for what it is.

While a lack of mainstream media attention makes the fight for a more progressive and free America more difficult, it does not make the shift that is occurring any less inevitable. Politics is cyclical. The way things are now is not the way they will be in the near future. Let's fight to make that change happen as soon as possible.

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