Democratic Underground  

Now Test Journalists
January 29, 2002
by Anthony G. Hendricks

Now that the Enron Scandal's hit, there's a lot of squealing and squirming coming from the media. Body language speaks volumes. I've watched David Brooks on the Lehrer Report look like he's auditioning for a Hemorrhoid Commercial, or as a star in the "I Gotta Go, Gotta Go" commercials for Americans with over active bladders. David's voice goes up a notch as he says, "It's not Whitewater. It's a financial scandal only."

This is the right-wing chorus, sounding as mournful and prophetic as a Greek Chorus. It worries me every time he and other Journalistic Media stars say it's not Whitewater. Fifty-five million dollars of taxpayer money and the capable arm twisting of Ken Starr convinced me there never was anything to Whitewater. Taking that as my cue, that means in contrast there must be an awful lot of real corruption involved in the Enron Scandal. Much more than just a Financial One.

Last Friday night I watched Bill Moyers interview, Robert Bartley, Editor of the Wall Street Journal, one of the most influential conservatives in America who nearly single handedly created out of thin air the Whitewater Scandal. Mr. Bartley is also the winner of a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism. Mr. Bartley's body language spoke volumes. He didn't squirm as much physically, but when it comes to equivocation he was masterful.

The man who led the Clinton Witch Hunt, who claims to have a monopoly on that higher ground called Morality, equivocated about: Off Shore Tax Havens, used by the Enrons and Drug Dealers of the World; about removing a former Enron Lobbyist, Harvey Pitt from his Chairmanship of the Security and Exchange Commission; and about the need to Regulate the Enrons at all. Mr. Bartley made the bold claim that the rapacious Enron got nothing from the Bush Administration.

Evidently Mr. Bartley considers the fact that Ken Lay, former CEO of Enron had the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission removed and replaced with a somebody who would allow Enron to gouge western energy consumers as Nothing. Evidently he considers the fact that Wendy Gramm, wife of Senator Gramm, a husband-wife tag team, got Enron exempted from Regulatory oversight is Nothing. Shortly after Wendy Graham used her Chair position on the Commodity Futures Trade Commission to get Enron an exemption from Federal Oversight, she resigned to take a Board position with Enron where she earned nearly one million dollars a year. An obvious Quid Pro Quo. On the Enron Audit Committee, Wendy Graham continued to star, voting to exempt Enron from any Ethics at all. Just More Nothing.

Her hubby Senator Phil Gramm the Nasty from Texas, had already announced his retirement claiming that he wanted to spend more time with his family. Be assured that the Enron Scandal was well known by Senator Gramm before he decided to spend more time with his grown family. After all being married Phil and his wife Wendy are in bed with each other. But Mr. Bartley assures us it's all just Nothing. Does he mean Nothing Good Ever Comes Out of Texas? Would that it were only Texas.

Amazing what nothing costs. Several billion dollars worth of nothing. Maybe we ought to ask the people of the State of California how they felt about being gouged. We should continue to ask about the impact of that Nothing on those who had no insider knowledge and took a financial bath, losing savings and retirement. We should ask the taxpayers who picked up the tab for Enron's fair share of the Federal Government. I think Mr. Bartley meant it was nothing to him. None of that gouging affected his pocket book at all.

As Moyers' questions got more pointed, Mr. Bartley's hypocrisy became more transparent and he seemed to be waiting for the final blow. That one or two questions that would put him into complete retreat and expose him for a complete fraud. Bill never asked those questions, probably because they never occurred to him.

These questions only occurred to me upon reviewing the tape of the interview. I kept wondering why these normally blustery self-aggrandizing hypocrites were so back on their heels and defensive. I believe I have the answer. The following test questions should be asked to Mr. Bartley, Paul Gigot, all journalists and management at the Wall Street Journal:

1) How much Enron stock did you own, and when did you sell it?

2) Do you now, or have you ever had money in an off-shore tax-dodge haven?

If we could get Mr. Bartley and others at the Wall Street Journal to answer these questions truthfully, we might discover that the Enron Scandal's got more legs than an octopus. Might help explain why they're trying to defend the indefensible. Do they award a Pulitzer Prize for Hypocrisy and Propagandizing? If not they should - and I want to nominate Robert Bartley as the first recipient.

As for poor David "I Gotta Go, Gotta Go," Brooks. I think he may be squirming because he's internally conflicted. There's the party line he's supposed to hold versus the vestiges of a conscience at war. Let's hope for him and other journalists that the vestige of a conscience emerges, that it's something more than a unrealized recessive trait. Or maybe he just has the heartbreak of hemorrhoids and is hoping to change careers. Maybe Brooks could go into Honest Commercial Television to star for Preparation H, where the commercials may be obnoxious, but they're at least honest about what they're doing. Excuse me now, because I "Gotta Go, Gotta Go." Honest!

Anthony G. Hendricks is a country poet & satirist, author of the book,
Democracy Bushwhacked, Election 2000, Florida Theater of the Absurd. Available at or 1-888-795-4274. Contact the author at: P.O. Box 1621, Nashville, IN 47448-1000.

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