Wag the Bush

What if this whole squabble with Iraq is just an attempt by President Bush to cover up a White House sex scandal? What if the President was caught getting it on with a girl scout in the Oval Office and was about to be exposed so he cooks up a phony war to divert the media away from the real story.

That’s the plot line in the 1997 movie Wag the Dog, a satire on media manipulation.

But based on the way the media has covered the President and Iraq as of late, the story doesn’t seem that far-fetched. However, in reality it appears that our trusted unbiased news organizations are in on the scheme.

Since September 11, the media has tiptoed around the President and has refused to second-guess Bush on the economy, his own business acumen or the war on terror because that would be unpatriotic.

Sure, there have been a few news stories written about those issues. A couple of reporters have challenged Bush, only to be publicly discredited by the President’s cronies, and that’s enough to put the fear of God into the rest of the journalism community. Unfortunately, there are no Bob Woodward’s or Carl Bernstein’s in modern day journalism because most reporters don’t have the balls to ask tough questions. Like the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

So, in a time when the public is bombarded with information, be it through the Internet and traditional outlets such as newspapers, magazines and television, we’re stuck with propaganda by so-called credible news organizations like The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and Fox. How can any person with a brain trust that the coverage from Fox is fair and balanced when Roger Ailes, Fox News Channel’s chairman, is giving President Bush political advice? CNN and The Times downplays the anti-war movement and our last bastion of hope, Bob Woodward, the man who brought down former President Richard Nixon, just published a book about Bush that says absolutely nothing important. Woodward did, however, disclose the Ailes/Bush correspondence.

When op-ed columnists and bloggers are spilling more ink on the underhanded tactics of the Bush administration than the reporters on the Hill assigned to the beat, you know that the state of journalism is in trouble. And that’s unfair to the millions of people who depend upon major news organizations for information.

What we know about Bush since he was sworn into office is that he operates under a veil of secrecy. Journalists don’t even attempt to dig for answers to lingering questions about the President’s relationship with big business, particularly Enron, his alleged insider trading into Harken Energy and most importantly what he knew about the September 11 terrorist attacks and when he knew it. Rest assured, the American people won’t find out about the latter now that Henry Kissinger is heading the inquiry. That’s like asking Ken Lay to head a task force investigating the California energy crisis. Will the media press Kissinger for answers? Time will tell.

It’s likely that in a few weeks, the sequel to Wag the Dog, Wag the Bush: War with Iraq, produced by Roger Ailes, will air on your local Fox News Channel. Just in time for the holidays. Watch it at your own risk.

JASON LEOPOLD can be reached at: jasonleopold@hotmail.com

 

JASON LEOPOLD is the former Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires where he spent two years covering the energy crisis and the Enron bankruptcy. He just finished writing a book about the crisis, due out in December through Rowman & Littlefield. He can be reached at: jasonleopold@hotmail.com

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