At last the national media is taking an interest in the curious holes in President Bush's military résumé. On Wednesday night, "60 Minutes" aired its interview with former Texas state official Ben Barnes, who says a wealthy friend of the Bush family convinced him to find young Bush his coveted spot in the Texas Air National Guard. Readers of Salon were among the first to see a video of Barnes saying he was "very ashamed" of his role in the affair.
In fact, while the rest of the media was distracted by the shameless lies of the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans, Salon was taking the lead in reporting how a young George W. Bush evaded service in Vietnam and then went missing as a National Guardsman. Last week, Salon featured an exclusive report on Bush's "missing year," when he was supposedly fulfilling his Guard obligations in Alabama. The rest of the media has yet to follow up on this important story.
And in Salon's Table Talk, Paul Lukasiak and several dozen other community members have been closely examining Bush's National Guard career for years, an example of enterprising American citizenship that the media is only now beginning to recognize. This is the latest sample of their ongoing, collaborative investigation.
It's not just George W. Bush -- it's the American media that is also missing in action. And this has never been more clear than now, during this historic presidential campaign. Intimidated by a raucous right-wing media lobby, the mainstream press passively covers the campaign news bites, dutifully repeating the Bush-Cheney machine's aggressive spin of the day and rarely subjecting the president to the type of scrutiny that is the media's public right and duty.
If anyone is still under any illusions about this, let's be clear: There is no such thing as the "liberal media" in America anymore. Cable TV news belongs to the likes of Bill O'Reilly, Joe Scarborough and Dennis Miller. Talk radio is all Rush (including American Forces radio). And, as conservative fundraising wizard Richard Viguerie points out in his new book about how the right has taken control of the media, "America's Right Turn," the Internet is also dominated by conservatives. Of the top five political news sites on the Web, Salon is the only one that's not right-wing.
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