Sunday, January 13, 2008

Independent media: Then & Now

As independent media seems bitten by the Bambi Bug that causes Barack Love, we thought it would be interesting to travel back to the not so distant past.

In the January of 2004 issue, an election year, The Progressive offered Howard Zinn's "The Logic of Withdrawal" (pp. 12 through 14). Yes, Virgil and Virginia, in 2004, independent media could and did cover the illegal war. (That's not a slap at Zinn, he doesn't forget the war. We've noted him because it was an important article.)

Jumping months ahead, because C.I. and Ava want to be 'helpful,' we come to the October 24, 2004 edition of The Nation. The editorial was "The Forgotten Issue" (pages 3). So that The Nation doesn't forget to raise an important issue until weeks before the election, we'd direct them to that editorial which maintained that "the future makeup of the Supreme Court should remain a top priority for progressives." Tell us, please, in all the magazine's Bambi coverage where that issue has been addressed. And if The Nation again waits until October to address it this election cycle, let's hope they have the good sense to note that among the ones "forgetting" the issue was the magazine itself.

In 2004, The Nation wasn't on its road to ruin. Victor Navasky was still publisher and editorial director while The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel was just "editor." That explains the May 24, 2004 cover story: "Exit: How To Get Out Of Iraq: A Forum with Jonathan Schell, Howard Zinn, William R. Polk, John Brady Kiesling, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Noam Chomsky, Stephen F. Cohen, Ray Close, Phyllis Bennis, Mansour Farhang, Sherle R. Schwenninger." The forum ran from pages 11 through 17.

Will we see anything like that this year? Magic 8 Ball says, "It is doubtful" and adds, "Katrina vanden Heuvel Sells the War!" Well, you heard it from Magic 8 Ball.

The magazine's October 4th editorial that year would lead off citing Seymour Hersh's book on Iraq -- yes, kiddies, back then, Hersh was known for covering real wars as opposed to the four years he's wasted predicting a war that still hasn't started. The editorial, entitled "Command of the Truth" (page 3) would rightly note of the 2004 presidential campaign, "Unfortunately Kerry is not an antiwar candidate, one reason why so much campaign debate has focused on what the candidates were doing during Vietnam, instead of what the United States is doing in Iraq." We should probably note that the campaign debate went beyond televised debates so it was probably incumbent on the part of the magazine to note that Ralph Nader, a presidential candidate shut out of the debates, was calling for an end to the illegal war. But let's move on to zoom in on the weakness of 2004 (and not a problem for just The Nation), "Kerry has another chance to combat the culture of denial and the lies that have defined Bush's campaign and his war. Let's hope he takes it."

Let's hope he takes it?

Was this an editorial?

In The Nation?

Are you sure we're not looking at an old issue of The Saturday Evening Post?

No, that was The Nation.

The press didn't make demands, including Little Media, and Iraq fell off the radar and the two candidates getting all the time refused to address it.

To switch back to The Progressive, in the May 2004 issue, on page four, Matthew Rothschild was noting:

On February 16, a jury convicted five peace activists of violating Crawford's parade and procession ordinance, which required fifteen day's notice and a $25 registration fee. The five were part of a larger group that was going down to Bush's ranch outside of town to protest the Iraq War last May 3. As they tried to move through Crawford, the police set up a barricade. When they got out of their cars, Police Chief Donnie Tidmore told them they had three minutes to get in their vehicles and turn back. When two of their legal observers asked questions, they were arrested. One other activist was arrested while talking to a TV reporter. None of the five was in the act of protesting, they say.

If you ever doubt the spark Cindy Sheehan brought to the peace movement in 2005, read over the above excerpt slowly.

In the August 2004 issue of The Progressive, page 20 would feature Colman McCarthy's "In Memoriam: A Man Who Didn't Obey" remembering peace activist and war resister Dave Dellinger.

What we found most entertaining was Professor Patti in the October 18th issue of The Nation (page 18, "Wonderland") deploring "sunny-side up" when served by Bully Boy. She loves it sunny-side up today when it's served by Bambi. But the laugh getting line comes when she recounts her recent trip to France where she encounters a 12-year-old boy who knows all John Kerry and how "Kerry's foreign policy was very close to 'that of Mr. Clinton, no?'" Professor Patti apparently thought "yes" and continued listening. In 2004, Bill Clinton was a good thing. A shock to anyone who read The Nation in 2007. The mythical 12-year-old boy (we always doubt columns that revolve around 'mythic' encounters) explains to Professor Patti that, in the campaign, John Kerry "hasn't defined himself." Professor Patti is off musing from her cloud about "a random kid in a random shopping mall in suburban western France who could define Kerry -- and Bush for that matter -- better than some American news anchors."

Professor Patti, when you float down from that cloud, remember your own 2007 hostile snapping a Mid-East woman who phoned in during your discussion with Andrea Lewis on KPFA (or was it your lecture?) when the woman attempted to point out to you that Bambi wasn't all that? Professor Patti, maybe "12-year-old boys" in France know more about politics because they don't read your dithering, syrupy columns. Professor Patti, you've had three years to write about something that matters since that column ran. We're giving you failing grade if you don't demonstrate marked improvement this year.

Since we've noted Professor Patti, for any wondering, that issue contains 5 female bylines and six males. No one wins when a Queen Bee takes over as vanden Heuvel's reign as editor & publisher has consistently demonstrated -- most obviously in 2007 when 491 men received bylines and only 149 women.

In 2004, when Katrina hadn't yet been installed, it was possible to have a lengthy forum on how the illegal war needed to end. In 2007, it wasn't even an issue unless withdrawal could be tied into elections. In 2007, the illegal war didn't end, but when Katrina takes over, you see Iraq take a back seat. Remember what Magic 8 Ball said, a completely impartial observer.

We think the change in leadership is most evident in the September 27, 2004 issue. That's where the editorial (page 3) was "Iraq and 1,000 Deaths." It began, "The price we are paying for George W. Bush's unnecessary and illegal war in Iraq keeps rising: the number of Americans killed in the war has now passed the 1,00 mark. And the price will keep rising until Washington accepts the fact that this is a war we cannot win -- and that by trying to win it, we are only further radicalizing the Iraqi people and giving life to Islamic extremists by handing them the cause of Iraqi nationalism."

For those not in the know -- possibly ones dependent upon The Nation for their 'news' -- the 3,000 mark -- under Katrina's 'leadership' -- resulted in nothing. Zilch. But when the 1,000 mark was passed and when the magazine had leadership, it was noted.

Then and now. Independent media's gotten very tired with age.
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