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So-called liberal media makes Abramoff guilty pleas #2 story

Reported by Chrish - January 3, 2006

I had technical difficulties today 1/3/06 - ok, it was a screw-up - and only got the last 20 minutes of The Big Story recorded. The final 20 minutes I did get were different angles on the story of the miners trapped in a West Virginia coal mine.

I do not mean to diminish the importance of the rescue efforts or the emotions the friends and families and rescuers are enduring, and my heart and best wishes go out to them.

But that said, this is precisely what is wrong with corporate media today.

I went to Foxnews.com to see if I could find anything there on the topics covered on the Big Story, although with all 4 cable news channels covering the West Virginia mine drama non-stop I feel it is safe to assume that John Gibson, returned from vacation, did the same for his entire hour. So it came as no surprise to find a large photo and headline about the mine tragedy, and also no surprise to see the treatment given to the big NATIONAL story, i.e. the Abramoff guilty pleas.

On Foxnews.com, it was the top headline in the sidebar: "Abramoff strikes plea deal." Sounds so much better than "pleads guilty to three charges", doesn't it? You picture him shaking hands and smiling, and everyone is satisfied.

I thought I'd take a look at how the liberal media was handling it. Surely there would be large banners screaming "Corrupt lobbyist with Republican ties guilty of conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion!!!!" or at least "Abramoff admits guilt in federal corruption!!!"

I immediately surfed over to CNN, that bastion of liberalism, what its detractors like to call Commie News Network or Clinton News Network (I assume that's because they covered the Starr investigations and the impeachment hearings incessantly). Lo and behold, their top story, also with large photos and headlines, was about the trapped miners. At the time I write this, 10:12pm ET, their top "other headlines" reads "Speaker donates cash linked to disgraced lobbyist." No name, no mention of guilty pleas, no implication that he is central to the vast corruption in all levels of government, all the way to the top. I have a question for CNN: how can he be disgraced if you are not giving us his NAME? The inside story emphasized Hastert's donation of his "Abramoff-linked" monies and other lawmakers rushing to rid themselves of the funds from "tainted lobbyist". Note to Congress: too late, too bad, so sad. I don't care what party you're in, you're part of the problem.

MSNBC is developing a reputation for being gutsy and unafraid, codeword liberal, so they probably have a big liberal Bush-bashing Republican hating headline. Well, almost. "Grim Discovery" and a photo take precedence over their headline to the right, "Guilty plea : Lobbyist Abramoff admits to tax evasion, mail fraud."

So there you have it. We progressives are left giving kudoes to MSNBC for daring to print Abramoff and guilty in the same sentence in a front page headline. Rightwingers will complain about the liberal media but truth is, it's all corporate media. Again, not to dismiss the miners' plight, but it is not a story that needs minute-to-minute coast-to-coast coverage to the exclusion of all else, and while the pictures are certainly more emotionally engaging than Abramoff and that hat it is not the duty of the media to entertain and engage us in human interest stories. I'm not suggesting they shouldn't be covered, just that they should be kept in PERSPECTIVE. The Abramoff story is drier and more intellectual than emotional but it is infinitely more important to the majority of us.

Perhaps what the "news" business needs is more talent who can take a story of bribes, corruption, secrets, power, money, glamour, excesses, wheeling and dealing, and make it interesting. Hire the writers from Dynasty and Dallas (dating myself here, I know) and let them weave the storyline for the "folks" who have to be entertained all the time. Just use the raw data and it will be shocking, and sickening, and infuriating, enough - maybe enough to get us off our collective arse to demand change - in lobbying laws, in campaign finance, and in the media.

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