Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Can’t Pass This Up

Via the incomparable Shakespeare’s Sister:

Everything I thought I understood about the world continues to spin out of control as Fox News covers the memo under the headline Downing Street Memo Mostly Ignored in US.

The gist of the article is that Fox seems to be intrigued that all the SCLM is more interested in other important stories like the latest of some trial out in California and who won on America’s Idol:

The memo, which received sporadic reporting in major newspapers in the United States throughout May, has sparked an outcry from more than 88 Democratic members of Congress who have signed two letters to President Bush demanding a response.

Led by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the signatories are mostly representatives who opposed the war in Iraq and make up the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Conyers says the mainstream media have ignored the story and let President Bush off the hook. He noted that liberal blogs and alternative media have been keeping the story alive. “But these voices are too few and too diffuse to overcome the blatant biases of our cable channels and the negligence and neglect of our major newspapers,” Conyers said in a recent statement.

Of course Fox trots out some reliable right-wing bloggers to dismiss it.

But not everyone believes the Downing Street Memo represents a “smoking gun” and deserves more attention.

“As a smoking gun it leaves a lot to be desired,” said Kevin Aylward, a northern Virginia-based technology consultant who runs the conservative-leaning blog, “It’s interesting, but it’s probably fourth- or fifth-hand information.”

Aylward added: “I suspect the more interesting story at this point, seeing it three weeks later, is who is behind the letter-writing campaign to push it in the media.”

Oh, Kevin, would the left do that? You bet your ass.

Several popular left-leaning blogs have taken up the cause to keep the story alive, encouraging readers to contact media outlets. A Web site,, tells readers to contact the White House directly with complaints.

“This is a test of the left-wing blogosphere,” said Jim Pinkerton, syndicated columnist and regular contributor to FOX News Watch, who pointed out that The Sunday Times article came out just before the British election and apparently had little effect on voters’ decisions.

“In many ways that memo might prove all of the arguments the critics of the war have made,” he added. “But the bulk of Americans don’t agree, or don’t seem that alarmed, so it is a power test to see if they can drive it back on the agenda.”

Well, Mr. Pinkerton, just ask Senator Trent Lott how powerful the left blogosphere can be. It was the blogs — mainly Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo — who kept the story of Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party toast alive, and look what happened to him.

Ellis Henican, a columnist for New York Newsday and a FOX News contributor, said the allegations of evidence-fixing had been made before the 2004 election by former senior administration officials Richard Clarke (search) and Paul O’Neill (search), and while many people believe they were right, it had little impact on the re-election of Bush in November.

“It’s a little late,” he said of the memo story, adding that people are resigned to the fact that the United States is in Iraq for the long term, regardless of what events led to the war. “We’re kind of stuck.”

Mr. Henican’s attitude sums up the attitude of the media today: “Gee, y’know, we’d love to cover this story, but uh…well, we’re kinda busy right now, y’know, sucking up to the Republicans and really trying to get a good seat at the correspondent’s dinner, so all of this investigative stuff…that’s so hard….” So, yes, it is up to us. I don’t know about you, but the one way to get some people to do something is to tell them that it can’t be done.

Saddle up!