By David Swanson
It’s March 27th, my son’s due date, but it looks like he may be late being born. Maybe he’s heard what it’s like out here. I may have had C-Span a little loud during Bush’s last press conference.
Wesley has spent the past nine months preparing to enter the world. I’ve spent the past ten months trying to get the U.S. media to admit that Bush blatantly lied to them and they in turn to us.
It’s funny how things tend to all develop at once.
Ten months ago we started a coalition at www.AfterDowningStreet.org and organized people to demand coverage of the Downing Street Memos. Thousands of people had some hope of a break through and worked hard to make it happen. We had some success. The USA Today printed a list of excuses for being slow to start coverage. The Washington Post put it on the front page after editorializing that it would ignore the matter. The television news shows picked up coverage mid-story, pretending they’d been there all along. But, a few weeks later, interest dried up. And some outlets, notably the New York Times, never gave – and still haven’t given – the Downing Street Memos significant play.
In the ensuing months we’ve seen a lot of new evidence, smoking gun after smoking gun. Those paying attention are all smoking gunned out and want to move on to impeaching the owners of the arsenal. But those not paying close attention, not using the internet, not reading the international press, have never heard of many of the new pieces of evidence, which are listed on the left side of www.afterdowningstreet.org . It’s become harder and harder to motivate those in the know to bombard the media with demands to inform those who need to be informed.
The single most stunning piece of evidence that’s passed unnoticed is the memo that two months ago we labeled the White House Memo. Philippe Sands discussed this memo in a new edition of his book “Lawless World,” and the Guardian and the BBC reported on it. In fact, at the beginning of February, it was a huge story in media outside the United States Many of the articles that were published are collected here:
We set up this page to generate citizen demands for coverage in the US:
The Associated Press covered the White House Memo right away, but few papers printed the AP stories. The Christian Science Monitor did a story. The USA Today wrote a dismissive blog entry. And Keith Olbermann mentioned the new evidence on MSNBC. But that was it. Then on February 11, the LA Times printed an article, using Sands’ book as the source. But nobody else followed.
Until today. Today this story came out in a big way. And when it rains it pours. Within days of the LA Times mentioning permanent military bases in Iraq, Bush admitting he intends never to pull out of Iraq, and the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post covering the growing movement for impeachment, the New York Times has chosen at long last to acknowledge the White House Memo, and to acknowledge that Bush was intent on finding a way to go to war, that he was not – as he claimed at the time and still claims – trying to avoid war.
Now the networks are phoning around, asking how they can see the memo, hoping to assure their owners that they won’t get Dan Rathered if they run with this story. Olbermann is back on the job, with Andrea Mitchell even bringing up the Downing Street Memo on the air tonight. Chris Matthews interviewed Philippe Sands this evening.
The media has a long, long way to go still. A single day’s attention could mean nothing if it’s not sustained. The Times article avoids obvious conclusions, obscures actions with the passive voice, and fails to tie in pieces of evidence other than this single memo. Bush and Blair continue to claim that each piece of evidence is taken out of context. And they’re right: each one should be put in the context of all the others we now have. And if there are more to be leaked, Karl Rove should know how to do the leaking.
TV producers are not making the connections. They’re struggling just to learn the basics. One of them today asked me whether this new memo was the Downing Street Memo from July 2002, and if so why it was reportedly from January 2003.
And no one in the media is making the appropriate connection between today’s New York Times story on war lies and Saturday’s Washington Post story on impeachment.
Still, there is something about this week that feels better than the average one for bringing a child into the world. I have hope that others will have hope, and that this will let them press hard for action.
And there is something about bringing a child into the world that makes me want to push harder for a full measure of truth, and not be satisfied with the thrill of seeing bits of truth squeeze through.
Someone said: He not busy being born, is busy dying. That certainly goes for democracies.
David Swanson is the Washington Director of Democrats.com and of ImpeachPAC.org. He is co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org / CensureBush.org coalition, creator of MeetWithCindy.org and KatrinaMarch.org, and a board member of Progressive Democrats of America. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including Press Secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, Media Coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as Communications Coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Swanson serves on the Executive Council of the Washington Baltimore Newspaper Guild. He obtained a Master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia in 1997. His website is www.davidswanson.org.