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Dear Walt Isaacson...
April 4, 2002
By Warren Pease

Dear Walt,

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 at large.

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 attack?

Like how is it possible that the entire US intelligence community was asleep at the switch, before and on the morning of Sept. 11?

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 richly deserve?

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,

Warren Pease

PS: Walt, anytime you need to talk about this stuff, or just vent a little, feel free to email me at My door's always open, which is why those goddamn thieves had such an easy time of it last month.

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