Mea Culpa, American Style
Just finished watching the Bill Moyers PBS special that many people are rightly touting today.
Excuse me for a moment while I walk to the other side of my office.
CRAAQK! THWAMP THWAMP! BRACCKKKKK! KRONNK!
I never liked that chair to begin with.
Now that some of my aggression has been channeled, I can state in a semi-reasonable tone that Moyers' examination of how the US mainstream press helped to sell the invasion of Iraq yielded no real surprises. The New York/Beltway political and media elite operate in a world of their own, and when they unite on something as grand as open-ended war, there's really not much We The People can do to stop them -- assuming said We have any desire to do so. They control the mechanisms needed to hype and launch wars, and they can marginalize or demonize anyone who gets in their way.
The work Moyers is doing is important and sorely needed. But showing the perpetrators for the murderous liars they are, several years after they've committed the crime, isn't nearly enough, for you know it will happen again. And again. And again. Then every few years a media vet like Moyers can produce a special where those who were in on the deed scratch their heads and wonder how they were supposedly fooled or led astray. In a sense, Moyers helps these fuckers to justify their actions, regardless of their "self critical" posing.
The New Republic's Peter Beinart is a perfect example of this. Shown for the pro-war idiot he was (and remains, despite his admission that he got Iraq "wrong"), he simply smiles and makes his excuses, knowing full well that he won't suffer professionally for helping to fan the war flames in the public sphere. That's the beauty of our media system: you'll get canned faster for plagiarizing than you will for advocating state violence against poor people in smaller countries, no matter how "high-minded" your rhetoric.
Still, for all of his blood-soaked hubris, Beinart has yet to become a truly smooth and efficient player. His allowing to be interviewed on camera proves that. The bigger criminals, William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Judith Miller, William Safire, and Roger Ailes, knew better than to appear on Moyers' show. After all, most of them are pushing for an assault on Iran, among other countries in their crosshairs. Revisit their lies about Iraq? Why would they do that?
I was somewhat amazed that Hitchens didn't appear. Moyers must not have invited the old bore, for Hitch rarely turns down a chance to rave on-camera, especially if the topic is his glorious war in Iraq. If nothing else, Hitch would've provided much-needed comic relief -- that is, if you find bloated apologists for mass murder funny. Humor is subjective, after all.
Moyers' program frustrated and depressed me, for the simple reason that it showed how well-protected the US state is from any real democratic challenge. And if you think that Obama, Hillary, or Edwards will change anything substantial in this regard, please take a trip to DC and spend a lot of private time with Peter Beinart. You deserve each other.