Critical piece by David Cay Johnston on why reporting is so bad, getting worse and going away, all at the same time.

This problem is not with the breakdown in the centuries-old economic model, a simple model that many journalists do not really understand. Connecting buyers and sellers who are in search of one another pays the bills. What draws them is a desire to find out that which is important but that they did not know. We call this information the news.

Far too much of what we produce today is already widely known. We fill so many pages with rehashed or known information that on many days these publications could properly be called oldspapers. It’s not like there isn’t important and revealing news all around us. There is. It’s just that we seem swept up in a herd mentality with too narrow a focus and too much eagerness to rely on what sources tell us rather than asking these same people to address important facts that lie in plain sight in the public record.

Lazy, incurious, often-times just plain dumb… know anybody like that? Relying on them for your world view?

The Worst Circus

What does Glenn Greenwald mean?

But the Report also cites the “fall of the Dutch Government over its troop commitment to Afghanistan” and worries that — particularly if the “bloody summer in Afghanistan” that many predict takes place — what happened to the Dutch will spread as a result of the “fragility of European support” for the war.  As the truly creepy Report title puts it, the CIA’s concern is:  “Why Counting on Apathy May Not Be Enough”

It’s both interesting and revealing that the CIA sees Obama as a valuable asset in putting a pretty face on our wars in the eyes of foreign populations. It is odious — though, of course, completely unsurprising — that the CIA plots ways to manipulate public opinion in foreign countries in order to sustain support for our wars.  Now that this is a Democratic administration doing this and a Democratic war at issue, I doubt many people will object to any of this.  But what is worth noting is how and why this classified Report was made publicly available:  because it was leaked to and then posted by WikiLeaks.org, the site run by the non-profit group Sunshine Press, that is devoted to exposing suppressed government and corporate corruption by publicizing many of their most closely guarded secrets.

If you haven’t seen the video released through Wikileaks earlier this week, good for you – it’s wrenching. But you are going to see it. GG‘s point about how information is controlled in a democracy is one everyone should step back and consider, even and especially as we get caught up in periodic convulsions about the biases of this or that news network. The whole thing is corrupted and as undeserving of your attentions as the idea that you need to calibrate your opinions to the whims of some mythical American center, politically speaking. And you cannot convince me that our extraordinary fascination with video slaughter games had nothing to do with the tone and attitude of the pilots speaking in the video. You really can’t get that callous and unfeeling about where bullets go and what they do without hundreds of hours of practice.


I’m all ready to put up something for your friday reading enjoyment, but (accidentally) listening to NPR this morning for a little too long had me pulling an Inspector Dreyfuss, and not in a good way.

Mara Liasson, you know you know me, national political correspondent or whatever, talking about the post-election shake-out, practically encapsulates the conventional wisdom flowing from every quarter that also just happens to be a ridiculous way of thinking about politics. It’s pulling for atrophy, as one friend is want to say. I’m not linking to it, but it goes something like this:

The final score of Tuesday’s election gives Republican’s evidence of a resurgence.

People want divided government, so it can do nothing.

So they vote for Republicans, even though they don’t like them (~20% consistently self-identify as republicans).

Republican can win, if they obscure their stances on social issues.

NY-23 was an example of Republicans dividing their support, and so handing a victory to the Democrat.

CA-10… oh, Mara didn’t mention CA-10.

Moderate democrats better hedge their bets on supporting the Obama agenda… or else voters will punish them for looking like they support something and running afoul of the way national political correspondents (aka The Village) and others have grown accustomed to thinking about what the legislative branch should [not] be doing.

So, NPR donors listeners good liberals… Is this the way the news about this or any election should be delivered?