April 4, 2002
By Warren Pease
You don't mind if I call you Walt, do you? I mean, I feel
as if I already know you so well.
I've read your confidential memos about conforming to White
House orthodoxy and always making sure to mention 9-11 whenever
your newsreaders talk about Afghan civilian casualties. I
know when Ari said "Watch what you say," you took it personally.
I get a glimpse into your thinking every time one of your
employees editorializes about how Democrats need to "just
get over it," or another smirks or feigns outrage every time
she reads an item about Daschle or Kerry or Kucinich ripping
the administration a new one.
I can't help but notice that Enron has fallen off the table,
or that CNN's news menu tends to fall into one of two main
food groups: Updates on the war on terrorism, which sound
an awful lot like White House news releases; and bubbly celebrity
coverage, like how weird Gwennie's boobs looked on Oscar night.
Or maybe, given the season, "Bunnies who lay eggs: Details
at the top of the hour."
So which is it, Walt? Money or cowardice? A bit of both,
maybe? Did somebody get to you? I mean, that's a hell of a
powerful thing you've got there - a 24-7 news network with
the budget to dig deep into all kinds of interesting stuff.
It's a shame to waste it on such obvious drivel.
Doesn't it just frost you how, with all those resources,
you keep getting scooped by virtually the entire rest of the
world? I mean, if all I did was watch CNN, I'd swear I lived
in a country governed by intelligent, forceful, patriotic,
benign men who want only the best for us and for the planet
On the other hand, if I read the Guardian, the Observer,
Le Monde, any major paper published in the Scandinavian countries
or in the rest of Western Europe, the leading Australian or
New Zealand dailies - in short, if I get my information from
any other source than United States mainstream media, I get
the feeling I'm living in a parallel universe.
All over the world, except here, journalists are digging
into some pretty meaty stories, asking real questions and
expecting real answers.
Like what did Bush know and when did he know it about 9-11?
Like who ordered East Coast fighter wings to stand down on
the morning of 9-11? Or if they weren't ordered to stand down,
how come the mightiest fighting force the world has ever seen
failed in its basic mission to secure American citizens against
Like how is it possible that the entire US intelligence community
was asleep at the switch, before and on the morning of Sept.
Like what's the relationship of the bin Laden family to the
Bushes and the Carlyle Group?
Like why did Cheney and Bush pressure Daschle to limit the
Senate investigation into 9-11, and why did Daschle consent?
Like who Cheney talked with and what they talked about during
those secret meetings on energy policy?
Like how much did Cheney make for Haliburton by selling equipment
to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure after the Gulf War?
Like what's going on with the anthrax investigation, now
that even the Feds admit it's probably a homegrown wingnut?
And what about the threats against family planning clinics?
Ashcroft says threats of terrorism are as heinous as the acts
themselves, so why aren't the Army of God, Operation Rescue
and their ilk squatting in dog kennels at Gitmo?
(And speaking of Ashcroft, how can you take anything he says
or does seriously, given that he hates and fears calico cats
as the devil's spawn, anoints himself with Crisco whenever
he gets a new gig, cost taxpayers $8,000 to hang drapes to
cover his metal mammary fetish, and lost his Missouri senate
seat to a corpse?)
Like how was it possible for bin Laden, the world's most
wanted man, to escape from under the noses of US Rangers and
UK SAS troops? And why does Bush suddenly not seem to care
after six months of "bin Laden is the main evil-doer" rhetoric,
which your network dutifully reported, after cleaning up the
Grammarian in Chief's fractured syntax?
Like what the hell is the "Axis of Evil" all about - or as
my wife calls it "The Quadrant of Meanies" - and does Bush
actually want to threaten the planet with first-strike nuclear
capabilities? Or is he just too dumb to know that's exactly
what he just did?
Like who is Richard Mellon Scaife and why is he giving millions
to right wing causes? And what's it buying him, besides the
undying devotion of neophyte pugilist Paula Jones?
Like would you maybe get serious about covering global warming
if it could be shown conclusively that The Big Dog's penis
actually caused an entire Antarctic ice shelf to break off
and float away?
Like if Bush's approval ratings really hover between 80 and
90 percent, as your frothy shills claim at every possible
opportunity, why is Michael Moore's book the national number
one best seller, closely followed by Brock's personal apologia
for his time as a right-wing shill?
Like why didn't US news outlets report the NORC results accurately,
which would have revealed that Gore should be in the White
House today and Bush should be chopping brush in Crawford?
Like how come the entire White House press corpse, including
your intrepid reporters, fellate Ari at every opportunity,
rather than roasting him alive as he and his lying boss so
And that's just a random sample, Walt. Maybe the biggest
question of all is how can you claim to run a first-class
newsgathering and reporting organization and consistently
miss so damn much? Are Chandra and shark attacks and Jon Benet
and The American Taliban and the rest of this hogwash really
worth spiking every real news story of the past year and a
half, or spinning virtually any piece of news so that it reads
like a chapter from the GOP's playbook?
Walt, buddy, I can get all I want or need of that kind of
drivel from Fox News. And don't think you can buy us off with
a little Begala and Carville. An hour a day somehow fails
to address the moderate/liberal concerns of the 50 million
or so voters who would rather swallow swords than see Bush
in the White House.
Finally, isn't it about time you dumped Chatty Paula in favor
of someone with possibly a shred of credibility and objectivity
and - what was that Bushie word - gravitas? Jesus Christ,
Walt. She came from Fox. What else do you need to know?
Maybe a real reporter, say Helen Thomas, could use the money.
Or maybe you could take a tip from Missourians and go with
a dead guy over an idiot. I mean, one embalmed Edward R. Murrow
has got to be worth at least a couple hundred live Paula Zahns.
Your friend and attentive viewer,
PS: Walt, anytime you need to talk about this stuff, or just
vent a little, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My door's always open, which is why those goddamn thieves
had such an easy time of it last month.