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March 11, 2007


A weblog about the politics and affairs of the old and glorious City of Albany, New York, USA. Articles written and disseminated from Albany's beautiful and historic South End by Daniel Van Riper. If you wish to make a response, have anything to add or would like to make an empty threat, please contact me.

March 11 , 2007

The Real Editorial Page

How the daily rags handle political news that they don’t like

Last week a jury convicted Irving Lewis “Scooter” Libby of being an obstructor of justice and of being a bald faced liar. Libby committed these crimes in order to cover up how he, representing his co-conspirators, consciously and deliberately destroyed a national security network in order to punish a US ambassador who had crossed them politically.

Hot news, huh? Historically important, considering that the trial demonstrated that the ring leader for this act of treason was the evil, sneering vice president of these United States, Dick Cheney. The psychopathic Elmer Fudd of the helpless quailtards himself. The most traitorous vice president since Aaron Burr.

Libby was Cheney’s right hand man, part of the White House ruling directorate that controls the character who currently occupies the presidency. He was arguably the second most powerful person in this country, sometimes called “the vice president’s vice president.”

Many people thought justice in this case would be perverted. The real terrorists never get convicted, do they? Libby was reportedly startled by the verdict, guilty on four out of five counts.

So how did the local newspapers handle this politically explosive news? For comparison, let’s start by showing the front page of the New York Times from last Wednesday:

NY Times Front Page

As you can see from this high quality photograph snapped with a pocket camera using my kitchen table as a background, the Times accords this important news the space that it merits. However, there was no guarantee that they would have amplified this conviction. A few years ago the Times would have probably buried the story in a corner like some sleazy local rag and downplayed the importance of the verdict.

Remember Judith Miller? She was a White House propagandist providing content for the New York Times. She took orders from Karl Rove. The Times knowingly printed her garbage as if it were facts. She figured prominently in the Libby trial.

The Times still has not repaired its damaged reputation over Judith Miller. But as this front page demonstrates, they no longer obediently suppress news that the White House considers politically incorrect. But fear not, if you peer closely at the bottom right hand corner of the page, you will see that the Times is picking on a prominent Democratic senator, Mr. Barack Obama. Thank goodness.

Now let’s look at Wednesday’s independent Daily Gazette, which is published in Schenectady:

Daily Gazette Front Page

The historic Libby conviction is given attention appropriate for a local newspaper. Being locally owned, the Gazette editors do not have to consider the demands of corporate politics into their editorial decisions. Thus, they can apportion space on their front page to a mix of local and national news according to how important they consider it to be.

The Gazette is not completely free of corporate control, however. Most of their world and national stories come from the Associated Press (AP) monopoly, which is often badly tainted by corporate politics. And once again, fear not. The left hand column, as you can see, is devoted to picking on Mayor Brian Stratton of Schenectady, a Democrat.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, let’s see how the Libby conviction was handled by our very own local outlet for the Hearst Corporation, the Times Union of Colonie:

Hearst Times Union Front Page

Can’t find it? It’s in the upper left hand corner, “Ex-Cheney Aide Faces Prison.” It leads to an article on page four. Gee, that’s not very important, is it? Must be old news. Certainly not as important as the massive spread in the center of the page picking on NY Governor Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat. And let's not forget the vitally important Atkins Diet.

You see, if you want to discern the editorial policy of a newspaper, the place to look is the front page. Forget about the editorial page. Look at the items that the editors select for the front, notice which items they bury inside or censor outright. Clearly, for the Hearst Corporation, the Libby verdict is a piece of bad news that they don’t want you or I to think about.

At least the New York Times is trying to repair their reputation. The Hearst Corporation, on the other hand, lost what little journalistic reputation they had years ago and will never recover it.

I’m referring to the Horse Trading Scandal, where the former publisher of our own Times Union, Timothy O. White, tried to extort financial favors out of then mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown. Basically, it came out in court that White told Brown to give his corporation what they wanted or they would make him look bad in their newspapers. And it also came out that by doing this, White was doing exactly what his bosses at Hearst told him to do.

What’s interesting about this to us here in Albany is that White sat on the witness stand and expressed surprise that anyone would have a problem with this sort of thing, that media corporations threatening politicians was business as usual. He called it “horse trading.” Apparently he’d been doing this a long time. Most likely he did this sort of thing while working here in Albany.

This begs the question, did Timothy O. White shake down any of our local politicians? Who did he shake down? And is the current publisher of the Times Union shaking down local politicians today?

Well, it’s not exactly late breaking news that the Hearst Times Union is a corrupt purveyor of corporate socialism. But I certainly will miss their big comics pages when they finally go under.

As for how the rest of the corporate media handled the Libby conviction last Wednesday, all I can give you is second hand information because I try to avoid electronic media other than the internet as much as possible.

I hear that the wing nuts that dominate radio news shows are outraged... how could such an important neocon be convicted of lying? They are all demanding that President Snotty Boy give Libby a pardon, just like Ford gave Nixon. I wouldn’t be surprised if the pardon comes down in the next few days. After all, it’s Shrub’s own butt on the line here.

The Wife listens to National Public Radio (NPR) when I’m not around. (After thirty seconds of listening to NPR I start ranting angrily. The poor abused woman has learned to hurriedly turn off that crap when I enter a room.) She tells me that they did a lengthy puff piece on the verdict, about how Libby has been hounded and persecuted, how he’s a “good man,” about how they’re going to appeal the verdict, boo hoo hoo the poor man.

As for the television “news” shows, does anybody take them seriously? I hear they spent most of their time last week recycling stories about the crazy girl singer who shaved her head and the dead Playboy centerfold gold digger. Libby’s conviction just couldn’t compete.

But wait! Fox News did indeed cover the Libby verdict. Check out these screen grabs (collected by pottersville blog:)

Fox News TV Screen shot saying "Libby Found Not Guilty"
Fox News TV Screen shot saying "but was there even a crime?"

How’s that for “fair and balanced?”


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