Yesterday former White House press secretary Scott McClellan released his new book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception (Public Affairs Books).
Charging that senior White House officials misused him to sell the Iraq war as if selling a candidate, McClellan accuses President George W. Bush, Presidential Senior Advisor Karl Rove, Vice President Richard Cheney, Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and Presidential Chief of Staff Andrew Card of being “involved” in his giving the press false information about the CIA leak case.
McClellan says he was deliberately misled about Rove and Libby illegally leaking to the press the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, part of a move to discredit her husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who had exposed Bush administration lies about so-called evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Since yesterday, a parade of present and past Bush administration officials have been been attacking McClellan personally. Rather than dealing with the truth of the allegations in his book, they are attacking the messenger. This is predictable.
What shocks me is the blatant bias evident in national to local news coverage of the story. Even here in Denver, all five of the major stations in their local newscasts have aired extended clips of administration allies questioning McClellan’s motives without including in their newscasts any truly balancing sound bites of McClellan defending himself. They run video of him speaking, but seldom do we hear his voice.
I’m seeing pretty much the same thing in all the national network news coverage of the story. The only exceptions have been the coverage by The News Hour on PBS and Amy Goodman on Democracy Now.
Frankly, I’m outraged. When the editorial bias is this obvious, how can news directors and anchors expect viewers to sit back like passive sheep and not complain?
Whether McClellan is telling the truth in his book or not, the public deserves reasonably objective reporting about the views from both sides in this controversy.
When media outlets blatantly ignore the canons of ethical journalism, it’s small wonder the public does not trust the members of my profession. Those journalists willingly being used as propaganda tools in this case actually shame the rest of us who still care about integrity.
I expect better. Let’s see if the coverage improves tomorrow.