A half century ago, Walter Cronkite, the anchor of the CBS Evening News for nineteen years and respected as “the most trusted man in America” delivered unbiased, non-partisan reporting on world news leaving it to his audience to draw their own conclusions.
The night he didn’t do that has made it into the history books. On February 28, 1968, Cronkite announced “Tonight… we’d like to sum up our findings in Vietnam, an analysis that must be speculative, personal, subjective…”
|“To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, if unsatisfactory conclusion…. it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people…”|
A month later on March 21, 1968, President Johnson announced to the world “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.” Many historians credit Cronkite’s announcement as the final nail in the coffin of Johnson’s hopes for another term. By the force of his conviction honed by an in-person visit to Vietnam, Walter Cronkite changed the way most Americans felt about the Vietnam War.
Fast forward to the present and the old rules no longer apply. The political game is more horse race than news reporting. In 2021, the media has chosen its favorite and hands down it’s Joe Biden who they assure us will put “America back where it belongs at the head of the table.”
The media fall over itself praising Biden’s highly dubious calls for unity at home and his new-found faith in diplomacy overseas. When he’s not sermonizing, Biden himself seems little inclined to follow through on his platitudes. It’s time for Biden to clean up his act. Calls for a new era of diplomacy are not a good fit with name calling and unfounded accusations. Biden has referred to Xi Jinping, top dog in China, as a “thug” and has a long history of referring to Iran as a major threat to the world —”The regime has long sponsored terrorism and threatened our interests” [Candidate Biden, January 7, 2020]
His appointees are not devotees of the art of diplomacy either. While decrying Trump’s ham-handed foreign policy decisions, Anthony Blinken, the new U.S. secretary of state agreed with him on most of them, including Trump’s decision to assassinate one of Iran’s top leaders, General Quassem Solemani (a possible war crime). Blinken — “Taking him out was the right thing to do,” How about Trump’s decision to send weapons to the corrupt government in Ukraine? Blinken was over the moon — “I support providing… lethal defensive assistance to Ukraine.” Even Obama, as war-obsessed as every other post World War II president, refused to arm the Fascist Ukraine leaders. Venezuela is another area of accord between the Trump and Biden administrations. Secretary Blinken — “I very much agree … with regard to a number of the steps that were taken toward Venezuela in recent years, including recognizing Mr. Guaidó… and seeking to increase pressure on the regime…. We need an effective policy that can restore Venezuela to democracy…”
When it comes to perpetual war leading to perpetual profit for media owners and their defense industry plutocratic BFFs, the reporters on their payrolls are unanimous. In April 2007, after the Trump administration fired 59 missiles at a Syrian airfield, the press was ecstatic — “I think Donald Trump became president of the United States last night.” [Fareed Zakaria, CNN]
He wasn’t the only self-described journalist to come to that conclusion. Van Jones, an advisor on “green jobs” in the Obama administration and now a CNN shill, made the same claim after Trump’s “blood and guts” address to Congress. But the Oscar goes to Brian Williams, the disgraced former NBC host and now on MSNBC — “We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean…I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons.'”
There’s more. No Democratic leader worth his salt would let this moment of unity pass without a little Russia-bashing. Here’s President Biden harkening back to his roots as a cold warrior in the 1970s and 80s.— “I made it clear to President Putin … that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions — interfering with our elections, cyber-attacks, poisoning its citizens— are over. “We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interests and our people.”
Quoting from the ‘liberal’ Democratic humanitarian interventionist playbook, he also threatened unspecified retaliation if Putin’s political foe, Navalny, was not “immediately released.” Perhaps this is not the best time to wonder how Biden and his humanitarian intervention buddies would react if Russia demanded the immediate release of U.S. political prisoners like Reality Winner, Mumia Abu Jama and Julian Assange.
The media can’t get enough of this old time warrior talk. Starting with his inauguration bombast, Biden has consistently evoked rapturous adoration from reporters of all political persuasions.. When the media aren’t fawning, the politicians step in.
[Biden] “gave the kind of inaugural address our presidents used to give.” [Brian Williams, MSNBC]
“I thought this was the best inaugural address I ever heard…” [Chris Wallace, “Fox News Sunday” anchor].
“…the United States and…the world was treated to a beautiful demonstration of the steadfastness of that democracy,” [Jake Tapper, Enforcer-in-chief, CNN)
“It [Biden’s inauguration] means our republic lives… Democracy will return in full spirit. … When Joe Biden walks into the Oval Office…[A] reverence for truth … A commitment to seeking bipartisan solutions [and] empathy will walk in with him. I’m overcome with the hopefulness that this ceremony brings to us.” [former vice-president Al Gore now worth $330 million]
It gets worse. Six months ago, The New York Times in anti-Trump mode ran this ‘news’ item “…a well-established pattern in the Trump administration … the president [Trump] handing over policy-making decisions to allies of special interest groups with a stake in these policies. Trump’s cabinet includes a former coal lobbyist…, a former lobbyist for the defense contractor Raytheon Technologies …, a lobbyist for the auto industry… and a former oil and coal lobbyist.” [NYT, 7/14/2020]
Six months later, President Biden announced his new cabinet— a former dairy lobbyist, a former board member of the world’s third largest defense contractor, a former consultant to the tech, finance and defense industries, an official who racked up $8 million dollars in speaking fees from the finance industry, a former executive at the fossil fuel-friendly largest asset management firm in the world, and a transition team loaded (one-third) with organizations funded by the weapons industry. [In These Times]
The NYT failed to make the comparison.
As the media goes on its merry way ‘manufacturing consent,’ the rightward drift of the new administration is ignored and unreported. The mainstream media have never been willing to report on the clay feet of their political heroes. Back in 2008, Obama the last Democratic president ,was spinning similar fairy tales that would never be realized — “There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education… This is our time…to put our people back to work … open doors of opportunity for our kids; …restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace… reclaim the American dream …. And where we are met with those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond …Yes, we can. [Obama’s victory speech, November 4, 2008]
The promises were the stuff of media legend. When they disappeared into the ether, the media had already moved on.
In an eerie reprise of that monstrous deception, Joe Biden went down the same rabbit hole — “Look, I understand that many of my fellow Americans view the future with fear and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs. I understand, like my dad, they lay in bed at night staring at the ceiling wondering can I keep my health care? Can I pay my mortgage? Thinking about their families. About what comes next. I promise you, I get it.
No he doesn’t judging by his hand-picked team of war hawks and austerity zealots and his broken promises to Georgia voters —$2,000 checks immediately to everyone who qualified for the previous stimulus payments. Turns out $2,000 has dwindled to $1,400, forty million Americans who received previous checks may not be eligible if these checks are “targeted” and immediately means when the Biden administration gets around to it.
Well-heeled donors to Biden have no worries. As he promised them throughout his campaign — “Nothing will change.”
That’s one promise he will keep.
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