Today On ‘Stuff That Makes Athenae Want To Tear Off Her Own Head And Eat It’

But propaganda during wartime is just such a haaarrrddd story, full of big words and stuff!

The Sunday-morning talk shows ignored the piece. No surprise that, perhaps, as the story suggested that news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC had broadcast the analysts’ talking points about the Iraq war and other military matters without asking too many questions about the provenance of their information.

Oddly, though, the Pentagon caper likewise seemed a nonstarter on the blogosphere, which is famed for blowing up minor PR brush fires into massive conflagrations. The left-leaning Huffington Post, for instance, offered a link to the New York Times piece but mostly let slide the opportunity to pound away at another perceived Bush lapse.

By Monday morning, the Pentagon TV story was still mostly missing from network radar screens. NBC’s Brian Williams, who’s been known to take a rooting interest in media-industry shopkeeping, didn’t even mention it on his “Daily Nightly” blog. “The talk of the staff meetings today was the Pope’s surprising visit (a huge media tour de force, by most reviews here in New York and elsewhere), and tomorrow’s vote in Pennsylvania,” Williams wrote.

That pointed up a second problem with the Times story: Bad timing. Whatever the exigencies of newspaper deadlines, it was hard to showcase a major investigation on a weekend dominated by a hotly contested primary and the pope’s visit to America. Beset by breaking news, the networks had relatively limited shelf space for an enterprise story they obviously weren’t thrilled about to begin with.

But the biggest hurdle for the story’s impact may have been one journalists have trouble seeing. Many Americans confronted with stories of media manipulation by government officials aren’t, at this point, shocked and awed. Instead they’ve come to expect it. Increasingly, they consider the media simply a mouthpiece for whoever has the most power. You don’t have to tell John Q. Public that the fix is in; he takes it for granted.


So, many Americans, confronted with evidence that TV’s talking heads are taking orders not just from government officials but also military-contractor clients, can be excused for not being all that surprised. That is the price we pay for having a government that’s not afraid to use sophisticated — and often brazenly misleading — PR tactics.


I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to scream. I know it’s rude. I know it scares the neighbors. I know it upsets the pets; Puck just emitted a little puff of shedded fur and fled the room. But sometimes, man, sometimes, I tell you … it’s either that or leave Mr. A to a long night of cleaning up beer bottles and cigarette butts, and in the end, I think screaming may be healthier. So let me just ask:


People can be excused for thinking this is okay? No they fucking can’t. Scott Collins up there may excuse them but I fucking don’t. And not for nothing, but this type of coverage, Collins’ blasé dismissal of a propaganda operation run by the US government as something most people wouldn’t be surprised by (and since when is “surprise” the arbiter of “okay,” anyway?) is part and parcel of the cynicism it purports to decry. You can’t treat everything like it’s a big ironic joke (the story broke on the wrong weekend?) and the use as fodder for your story that people have come to the independent conclusion that everything is a big ironic joke.

God, I hate this fucking dodge, where reporters write about the media and its influence on and role in society as though they aren’t part of it at all, as though they had nothing to do with it. They set the fucking place on fire and then stand back and describe the totally spontaneous flames. Why didn’t it “make a splash?” The fucking fuck I know, maybe because the people who are the gatekeepers of this conversation, like those who work at the LA Times among others, just took it as a matter of their own little superior gospel that nobody would give a shit and went back to their breakfasts.

Ever notice they only ever protest the limits of their power when they’re trying to get out of covering something they know they should have covered? Ever notice that? When they’re whipping up a frenzy over some bullshit Obama or Hillary controversy, then it’s FEEL THE SIZE OF MY MANGIFICENT PRESS MANHOOD but when somebody asks them why they can’t be arsed to spend more than ten seconds at a crack on any one issue of interest to, say, a whole swath of the country that’s been hurricaned into oblivion, then out come the timid protestations ofbut we just didn’t have the time and it hurts, mommy, stop paddling me. Fuck me blind, the level of self-absorption and responsibility-avoidance in action here is enough to stop a moose in its tracks.


15 thoughts on “Today On ‘Stuff That Makes Athenae Want To Tear Off Her Own Head And Eat It’

  1. have you tried complaining to your local network affiliate? i have — multiple times — and i get a whole lot of shoulder shrugging.
    our local abc affiliate has had a felon doing its local political punditrificating for about a year. their attitude is “huh?” the disgusting attitude goes all the way through the entire system.

  2. Rant on sister! (and Puck’s hair will grow back before the next outburst if ferret fur is anything like catzes)
    What the fuck happened to our country???? Yeah, easy/quick answer ‘bush’…and it’s not like he actually did anything prior to being anointed to deserver this insane admiration, endless pass…(nor have any of his effed up cronies)
    pardon me while I go vomit up my toenails.

  3. typos dont exist in the interbents(yeah, i could fix that, BUT I AINT!)
    the gnews are not on democracy’s side anymore. just $. therefore, they are republikkkan.

  4. “What the fuck happened to our country???? Yeah, easy/quick answer ‘bush’…and it’s not like he actually did anything prior to being anointed to deserver this insane admiration, endless pass…(nor have any of his effed up cronies)”
    It’s commonly known as the “dumbing down of America”. It’s been a concerted effort on the part of the corporate media and Repubs for at least the past twenty years. They’ve used inane and mind-numbing programming (they own all of the studios and networks) along with misleading news broadcasts for a long time. No one reads anymore, much less thinks for themselves.
    Mission Accomplished!

  5. Know what I noticed in the article?
    Few stories can thrive these days without TV exposure, and there the Times’ scoop was handicapped from the start.

    See it’s really about TV. And the story made the TV people LOOK BAD. So what producer in his right mind is going to say, “Hey this is a story talking about what a crappy job we did vetting the people who are supposed to be independent experts. Let’s book the editors to talk about THIS!” as the kids used to say – “NOT!”.
    This is the same problem I saw that Eric Boehlert had when he had his Lapdogs book out. Who wanted to have him on to talk about what lazy reporters and Presidential suck ups they were? Nobody. The media doesn’t want to cover itself.
    And here is another thing. ABC the scoop about the President and torture? Why did others not cover it? Rivalries between groups. It’s the same stupid reason that when Helen Thomas finishes a line of questions and she isn’t answered the other reporter doesn’t pick it up. “Excuse me you didn’t answer Helen’s questions. Please answer them otherwise we are all going to leave the room.”
    No solidarity with other press people. It would be nice to whip up a paper vs. TV battle but the NY Time used some of the SAME experts. I DO give them credit for doing the story though.
    I’m also so tired about the cynical stuff. The “It’s not MY job to vet anything.”
    If it is all about TV AND the Newspapers want to get on TV talking about it they need to understand better what works on TV. If they were smarter they could have gone to one of the biggest offenders and said to the producer, hey, we busted you for not vetting these guys, how about you defend yourself and your guy on the air with me. It would make great TV.” But the Times won’t do that because they don’t really want to get coverage on TV that way, they have the same attitude that they have to be nice or TV won’t cover them. TV will only cover itself when it is beaten bloody and they HAVE to cover themselves. Or if they can look down their noses at the OTHER network. Even then they don’t cover it because, “There but for the grace of god go us.”

  6. The media industrial complex, like rethuglican government, is the enemy of US democracy. Fuck THEM.

  7. My question is, why did the Times choose that day to print the story? Yes, they gave it a huge amount of column space, including front page above the fold, but why that day? When they had to know it wouldn’t get that much attention? When they could have waited a week and gotten twice the coverage (at least in theory)? This after they sat on the wiretapping story for *months*…?
    And has anybody talked to the reporters who wrote it about the timing of the publication?
    I hear the muffled screaming of a gentlemen’s agreement with the networks…

  8. Ike warned us in his farewell speech. “Beware the military industrial complex”.
    All of that wealth accumulating in the accounts of the top 0.1% of the population didn’t get there just by chance.
    Never forget – the money spent on Bush’s illegal Iraq occupation doesn’t just fly off into outer space. It goes into bank accounts of that 0.1% of the population. We aren’t talking about millions of dollars here, but hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars. Those people would kill us all to get that money.

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