Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Throughout the year, Politico has repeatedly published as “news articles” comments from Dick Cheney, which its ”reporters” faithfully write down and print with virtually no challenge, skepticism or contradiction. So extreme has this behavior become that even Beltway TV personalities such as Chris Matthews are beginning to mock it. This afternoon, Greg Sargent asked Editor-in-Chief John Harris to defend his magazine’s conduct, and Harris replied by claiming, in essence, that Cheney’s comments are “newsworthy” and that it’s Politico‘s job to “get newsworthy people to say interesting things.”
Harris’ reply is a complete non sequitur. Nobody I’ve heard objects to Politico‘s act of telling its readers about the ”interesting things” Cheney has to say. The objection is that Politico mindlessly reprints any and all claims Cheney wants to make, no matter how factually dubious or even blatantly false, without question or challenge. By definition, then, Politico serves Cheney as his official stenographer and spokesman (i.e., writing down and announcing what someone has said), rather than acting as journalists (i.e., stating what the facts are and how and why a politicians’ statements are untrue). Harris doesn’t dispute this; he simply explains that — like most establishment journalists — Politico‘s role is not to document someone’s falsehoods, but only to repeat and amplify them. We’re supposed to believe that what Judy Miller did was somehow anomalous and worthy of being disgraced, yet virtually every time “reporters” like Harris explain how they perceive their role, they describe exactly what Miller did: we get important people to say interesting things and write it down, regardless of whether it’s true.
Thus, in their last Cheney “article,” Politico let Cheney attack Obama for giving “terrorists the rights of Americans, let[ting] them lawyer up and read[ing] them their Miranda rights” — without mentioning that the Bush administration did exactly that with Richard Reid, Zacharais Moussoui and several others (see this new Jake Tapper article detailing these contradictions for how an actual ”journalist” reports on a political figure’s false accusations). Politico also let Cheney accuse Obama of wanting to “release the hard-core Al Qaeda-trained terrorists” from Guantanamo — without noting that (a) many of the to-be-released detainees are ones even the Bush administration concluded did nothing wrong and are not a threat; (b) the vast majority of detainees held at Guantanamo were completely innocent; (c) it was Bush/Cheney who released many of the detainees who have since returned to the so-called “battlefield,” including one of the alleged leaders of Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula; and (d) Obama is using the same tools used by Bush/Cheney — trials, military commissions and indefinite detention — to imprison all detainees deemed to be a “threat.” Politico also let Cheney repeatedly claim that “that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war” — without noting that Obama twice escalated in Afghanistan, began bombing Yemen, and massively ratcheted up our drone attacks in Pakistan.
In other words, they dutifully wrote down a bunch of falsehoods and lies Cheney told, and passed those claim on to their readers without noting that they were false. When confronted with their conduct, Politico‘s Editor-in-Chief blithely claims that this misleading, subservient behavior is his understanding of what “journalists” are supposed to. And it undoubtedly is. It’s true that, two days before printing its latest Cheney homage, Politico ran a good article by one of its few real reporters, Josh Gerstein, documenting that Bush waited longer to comment on Richard Reid than Obama waited to comment on the Northwest Airlines incident, but that’s only one of Cheney’s lies, and debunking it in an entirely separate article two days earlier doesn’t justify printing Cheney’s comments without challenge.
Of course, Politico will continue to serve Cheney in this way — offering him a challenge-free platform to say whatever he wants — because if they ever stopped being good little boys for Dick Cheney, he would find someone else to serve as his faithful stenographers, and then they, rather than Politico, would get the Drudge links and gossip attention which Politico, above all else, desperately craves.
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I’m not a big fan of “we-are-doomed” symbolism. But for those looking for end-of-the-decade signs of our impending collapse, it would be hard to do better than pointing to the appointment of the Executive Editor of Politico — of Politico — to the Pulitzer Committee.
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Mandela is accompanied by his former wife Winnie, moments after his release from prison February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in jail. (Reuters)
In this February, 1990 photo, shortly after his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, gives the black power salute to the 120,000 supporters packing Soccer City stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
Nelson Mandela showed his passport in February 19, 1990, shortly after his release from prison. The South African government authorized an application for himself and his wife Winnie - (Juda Ngwenya / Reuters)
In this July 27, 1991 photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas, Cuba. (AP Photo)
In this July 4, 1993 photo, President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela listen during Fourth of July ceremonies in Philadelphia during which Clinton presented the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to the African National Congress president and South African President F.W. de Klerk. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he prepares to unveil the ANC's official election platform in 1994. (AP Photo/David Brauchli)
African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela greeted residents of Mmabatho in March 1994, during a visit after the nominal homeland came under South African control following the ousting of the former President Lucas Mangope. (Reuters/Howard Burditt)
South African President Nelson Mandela smiles with actor Sidney Poitier at a press conference in Cape Town in 1996. Poitier played Mandela in the film "One Man, One Vote" (AP Photo / Sasa Kralj)
South African President Nelson Mandela waves to crowds as he sits next to Queen Elizabeth II in a an open carriage on the way to Buckingham Palace.(AP/Louisa Buller)
Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly Cyril Ramaphosa, left, holds up a copy of the country's constitution which was signed by President Nelson Mandela, in December 1996. (AP Photo / Adil Bradlow / POOL)
Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg in February 2000. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)
South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar, right, received the Rugby World Cup trophy from President Nelson Mandela also wearing a South African rugby shirt, after South Africa defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup , in 1995. (AP Photo / Ross Setford)