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THE DECAY OF AMERICAN MEDIA — Patrick L. Smith on the decline and fall of American journalism; Peter Lee on China and its Uyghur problem; Dave Macaray on brain trauma, profits and the NFL; Lee Ballinger on the bloody history of cotton. PLUS: “The Vindication of Love” by JoAnn Wypijewski; “The Age of SurrealPolitick” by Jeffrey St. Clair; “The Radiation Zone” by Kristin Kolb; “Washington’s Enemies List” by Mike Whitney; “The School of Moral Statecraft” by Chris Floyd and “The Surveillance Films of Laura Poitras” by Kim Nicolini.
Let Me Interrupt You...

This Just In

by MISSY BEATTIE

Last Thursday, I was nearly inconsolable, having submitted my article midafternoon. If only I’d waited. I’d written about W. VA’s chemical spill, big industry’s latest egregious assault on what’s called Chemical Valley, an invasion, like war, that’s destroying our ecosystem. But later—in the evening—I saw something else with historical significance.

I’d wandered to Google News to read top stories. That’s when I saw it, saw and read about a huge event that included a video. It’s one of those images forever forged in the mind—so much so that even years later, I’ll recall where I was and what I was doing when the announcement socked my psyche.

I desperately wanted to write another op-ed but decided against it, certain someone else would. Plus, I knew the incident was unfolding, would continue to develop.

But first, a little background. On former Congresswoman Jane Harman, an AIPAC groupie. Back in 2005, a NSA wiretap picked up Harman’s promises to intervene on behalf of two pro-Israel lobbyists who were under investigation for espionage. In return for this favor, she’d receive help in sitting comfortably in that chair of the powerful House Intelligence Committee. Harman ended one of the plundered calls with, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

Way cool, articulating, “This conversation doesn’t exist.” I’m practicing, repeating it, emphasizing a different word in the sentence each time.

Truth is, Harman’s conversation might as well not have existed, because a criminal case against her was dropped. The Bush Administration liked her. Harman could be banked on for her commitment to an unbreakable US-Israel bond and to fund war.

Now, Harman’s president of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington. Recently, she spoke from Davos, saying that the NSA’s program of spying is constitutional.

Okay, WAKE UP, because this is the part I’ve been moving towards: MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell was interviewing Harman on January 23rd about a government task force recommendation that the NSA stop gathering our phone records when suddenly Mitchell disrupted Harman mid-sentence, “Congresswoman Harman, let me inte … let me interrupt you. Congresswoman, let me interrupt you just for a moment. We have some breaking news out of Miami.”

The breaking news: Justin Bieber was arrested. Yes. This. Is. Breaking. News. (Either what the corporate media select for us or what they believe we want to know.)

Mitchell continued, telling viewers that Bieber was taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence, drag racing, and resisting arrest.

I just wish I could have seen Harman’s face when she heard the reason for the abrupt cutoff. You can watch the YouTube here.

Info for the unhip: Bieber’s a 19-year-old heartthrob with a teen following known as “Beliebers”. He’s hot shit to a generation of youth and definitely to himself. I mean look—this is his entry in the guestbook at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam: “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.”

But then I’m thinking I may become a Belieber. Because news of Bieber’s arrest not only hijacked Harman’s on-air performance, it also must have rattled her royal, talking head self-image, at least temporarily. I bet she’s a dis-Belieber.

This just in: Bieber’s blood alcohol level was zero.

Also just in: A WhiteHouse.gov petition to deport the Canadian-born Bieber has 115,000 signatures. Obama must “react”. Oh, please.

I’m having a what-if moment. Suppose Bieber’s arrest had occurred during Obama’s SOTU speech. “Mr. President, let me interrupt you. Mr. President. We have breaking news. Justin Bieber has been…”

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com.