Thursday, January 13, 2005

Crossfired

I think--I hope--blogger is back up and running...we'll see. Anyway, I was remiss in noting that my friend Ben should get credit on the previous post for pointing out the Cohen article. And, in the same email, he alerted me to Frank Rich's euology/dismissal of Crossfire--less a lament and more a "good riddance" piece.

Rich notes that the final guest on the show was none other than Armstrong "Show me the money" Williams. Even worse was that neither Bob "Plame Gaming" Novak nor Paul "Nothing Personal, Armstrong" Begala had anything of note to ask of Mr. Williams or to say regarding what to me is sort of an "astroturf on steriods" condition.

Aside: I watched Crossfire during the 1980's, then I recently caught a bit of it here and there--it's not like it was ever "good television," but I remember the Braden/Buchanan years to be slightly better (less bloviating and/or hollering). Abbie Hoffman once made an appearance--his first suggestion was that he swap chairs with Tom Braden (he said something like "on my right I've got a former speechwriter for Nixon, and on my left a paid CIA agent?").

Anyway, like I said, Rich goes beyond the end of Crossfire to look more closely at the so-called "duped" media and concludes with this:

Every time this administration puts out fiction through the news media - the "Rambo" exploits of Jessica Lynch, the initial cover-up of Pat Tillman's death by friendly fire - it's assumed that a credulous and excessively deferential press was duped. But might there be more paid agents at loose in the media machine? In response to questions at the White House, Mr. McClellan has said that he is "not aware" of any other such case and that he hasn't "heard" whether the administration's senior staff knew of the Williams contract - nondenial denials with miles of wiggle room. Mr. Williams, meanwhile, has told both James Rainey of The Los Angeles Times and David Corn of The Nation that he has "no doubt" that there are "others" like him being paid for purveying administration propaganda and that "this happens all the time." So far he is refusing to name names - a vow of omertà all too reminiscent of that taken by the low-level operatives first apprehended in that "third-rate burglary" during the Nixon administration.

If CNN, just under new management, wants to make amends for the sins of "Crossfire," it might dispatch some real reporters to find out just which "others" Mr. Williams is talking about and to follow his money all the way back to its source.

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