Corporate MSM minimize, serious journalist bloggers offer appropriate coverage, condemnation
Plus: YOU can take action...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2009, 7:04pm PT  

Following up on Saturday's NEWSWEEK scoop that Attorney General Holder "may be on the verge of" appointing a prosecutor to investigate Bush/Cheney-era torture, Digby notes how the chuckling dinosaurs of ABC News' This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday snickered their way through a discussion of prosecution for torture by the Bush/Cheney regime (in our name!) as if they were wise-cracking about any old political brouhaha from inside the Beltway. (Video/transcript here, courtesy of C&L.)

Note to Stephanopoulos: How about featuring some actual journalists and bloggers who've actually been covering this issue for months (years?) before you eventually come to wonder why your show has gone the way of all the dead trees in the newspaper publishing business. Greenwald, Scahill, Wheeler, Horton all come to mind. It might bring your show up to date...or at least, up to 2006 or so.

The serious folks out there, several mentioned above, took a look at Saturday's NEWSWEEK report with the grim sobriety and analytical acumen that it deserves, while in largely shabby followups Washington Post, New York Times, and Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal all seem to float anonymously sourced trial balloons, averring the notion that only low-level rogue interrogators who exceeded the boundaries of the DoJ's illegal torture justification memos would be targeted by such an investigation.

On that point, while Glenn Greenwald charges such an approach would be arguably "worse than doing nothing," as it would "actually further subvert the rule of law rather than strengthen it," he also notes:

It's worth emphasizing here that all of these reports are preliminary and from anonymous DOJ sources, so it's a bit premature to get too worked up over a prosecution approach which Holder hasn't even announced yet. Still, given how many DOJ sources went to multiple newspapers at the same time to disclose Holder's plans, it seems clear that this was a coordinated, approved effort to disseminate Holder's intentions as a "trial balloon" to gauge public reaction.

Scott Horton's reporting counters the indications from anonymous sources in the increasingly obsolete WaPo, Times, and WSJ coverage which suggests focus on only low-level agents and contractors, rather than policy makers, by reporting that his sources at DoJ indicate just the opposite [emphasis ours]...

[T]wo sources in the Justice Department confirm to me that Holder is preparing to appoint a special prosecutor to conduct a comprehensive investigation and, if necessary, bring charges.

Horton's report is in stark contrast to Stephanopoulos' "overnight reporting", and that from the three newspapers, all of which seemed to indicate their sources said only "rogue" "rotten-apples" would be targetted.

Horton also takes pains to note, however, that "no final decision has been taken" on any of it. And, as in the original NEWSWEEK report, the White House powers that be (reportedly Emmanuel and Axlerod) said to oppose such an investigation --- because they put politics over things like actual policy, and the Rule of Law --- have a strong hand in hoping to dissuade Holder from doing what is right, what is his job.

Jeremy Scahill quotes two leading anti-torture attorneys extensively, both of whom echo Greenwald to say that such a limited investigation/prosecution would be an absolute mockery. Too bad Stephanopoulos didn't see fit to have them on his roundtable, rather than living dead tree Bob Woodward and chums.

Certainly the MSM reports and responses are all trial balloons to guage public interest, outrage, outcry. With the mainstream corporate media's ability to flip the switch any way they like (most likely towards "the public doesn't care" meme, as supported by the ABC yucksters), it's important that you take some action to try to counter what will most certainly be the mainstream dissuasion against appropriate action here.

I should note that I began writing this follow-up to Saturday's report early Sunday morning, and the Times, WaPo, WSJ, and ABC coverage was exactly what I had predicted was likely to occur in the graf above (largely drafted prior to that predictable MSM coverage.)

So, if you wish to try to somewhat balance the power of the MSM, might I recommend contacting the DoJ with your opinion (202-514-2001 or Ask others to do the same.

Also, if you haven't already, please remember to sign on to Velvet Revolution's campaign. If nothing else, those Bush attorneys who violated all professional standards to "legalize" the illegal acts of the regime need to be held accountable, if only by the slap on the wrist of disbarment. Sign on here...

[Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of]

UPDATE 7/15/09: MSNBC offers another egregious example of corporate media failure --- in this case, again, "inside the beltway" corporate media failure --- in their "coverage" of Holder's floated torture probe. Glenn Greenwald is, as usual a must read here, beginning this way today:

NBC's Chuck Todd --- who, remember, is billed as a reporter covering the White House, not a pundit expressing opinions --- was on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Tuesday discussing reports that Eric Holder is likely to appoint a prosecutor to investigate Bush torture crimes. Needless to say, everyone agreed without question that investigations were a ridiculous distraction from what really matters and would be terribly unfair.