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The scandal of George Bush’s earpiece debate cheating device continues to grow.
I just got a look at the full Fox tape of President Bush’s May ’04 joint news conference with French President Jaques Chirac. In that tape, as in several other tapes I’ve seen, Bush can be heard seemingly getting prompting from another voice. About 12 seconds into the piece, the leading voice says, "And I look forward to working to" Bush comes in with "And I look workin’And I look forward to workin’ to" The verbal slip-up makes it clear that this is no electronic echo or sound synchronization problem.
At another point, about one minute and sixteen seconds into the tape, the leading voice lets out a loud exhale of breath. Bush does not follow suit. There is no preceding voice when a reporter is heard asking a question. Also, at one minute and 28 seconds into this tape, Bush reaches up and manipulates something in his ear, at which point there is a static noise and the sound of a speaker acting up, until he removes his fingers from his ear.
There is no wire going up to his ear, indicating that the earpiece in his right ear is wireless.
Meanwhile, the ongoing saga of the President’s Bulge offers some disturbing insights into the sad state of the Fourth Estate in America.
Let’s start with CNN.
This once daring and innovative all-news television network, after falling into the hands of Time-Warner and particularly of late, has become so frightened by the marketing success of Fox News that it has virtually become a clone of Rupert Murdoch’s semi-official Bush propaganda network. This became apparent to me when I was living in Taiwan last spring. The CNN International edition I watched in Kaohsiung was showing graphic reports of slain civilian victims of U.S. bombs in Iraq, and of dead and wounded American troops–images that my friends back home in the U.S. weren’t seeing.
Obviously, CNN had the tape and felt it was newsworthy, or they wouldn’t have been showing such scenes abroad, but they were hiding it all from the viewers at home.
In my personal case, I received a call last Wednesday from CNN International, which wanted to interview me for a program to be broadcast globally discussing the scandal of the bulge on President Bush’s back in the debates. A limo was dispatched to my house to deliver me to a studio in Philadelphia, where my portion of an interview was uplinked to the CNN satellite.
No CNN viewer in the U.S. caught this interview. Only viewers in the rest of the world.
Here in the U.S., the only news program that bothered to interview me on this story for national TV was MSNBC, which did a short Q&A at noon on Wednesday.
Since writing my initial expose in Salon magazine, I was deluged with requests for interviews by local station news programs and talk show hosts, all of whom gave the story serious coverage. But no calls from national radio news programs–not even NPR, which never did a piece, only a commentary a week late on its On the Media program.
On the big TV networks, the story was handled as comic relief. It made Letterman, Leno and Comedy Central, but not the news programs–though they are the ones with the video archives which reporters should be combing for more evidence of Bush’s high-tech speaking aids. If they bothered to do such digging, they’d find, as I have, that Bush also had that peculiar bulge on his back on other important occasions, as when he went to answer questions from the 9/11 Commission. Would Americans want to know about that? I should think they would.
The New York Times and the Washington Post both did quick stories on the bulge after the story first appeared in Salon magazine, but both have since dropped the matter, at least as far as its being a hard news story, never having made more than a few perfunctory phone calls (The Times did run a White House Letter today by one of their Washington correspondents describing the bulge as having become an "objective correlative" that raises many wider political issues among voters). Despite receiving ridiculous responses and non-responses from the White House and the Bush Campaign, both papers have obviously decided not to assign investigative reporters to the case, preferring to let the story wither away.
Here in Philadelphia, things have been even more lethargic. My own hometown paper, the once proudly investigative Philadelphia Inquirer, gave the issue of the presidential bulge a wire-service paragraph, and didn’t bother to have anyone contact the local investigative reporter who had broken the story. Nor did Philadelphia’s local radio talk show hosts consider interviewing me about the Salon story, though stations, both NPR affiliated and commercial, were calling last week from all over the country.
What is one to make of this lack of reportorial curiousity about evidence of a massive fraud–possible cheating by the president on three nationally televised campaign debates–on the part of the national media?
If it were just a matter of lousy news judgement, it would be bad enough, but the fact that both the Times and the Post saw the need to publish serious stories about the matter the day the story broke, and that CNN saw it as important enough to air on CNN International, shows that something worse is going on–the deliberate deep-sixing of a story embarrassing to the president.
The White House and the Bush campaign, for their part, continue to dismiss questions about what Bush was wearing in the debates, and on other occasions, by attributing the story to "the Internet." In fact, as has been the case with many of the important stories about the Iraq war and the Bush administration, the Internet is proving to be where the real journalism is happening.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org