I've been thinking some more about CNN hiring Tony Snow as a commentator.
Coming in the wake of Newsweek's hiring of Karl Rove, and the New York Times' hiring of Bill Kristol, the mainstream media's embrace of these unabashed propagandists has revealed a self-loathing streak a mile wide.
What is it with these media outlets? Have they been so cowed by the Right's relentless branding of them as "liberal" that they feel compelled to show they're not sleeping with the enemy? And make no mistake, Rove, Kristol, and Snow are the enemies -- of honesty, truth, facts, reality, and the public's right to know. Anything.
Rove's commitment to deception is legendary. His entire career was built on it. Kristol is neoconservatism's crown prince. He was a prime mover in the push to invade Iraq, and his claims about the war's progress (or, rather, lack thereof) have been discredited again and again. His reward: a conservative slot on the Gray Lady's Op-Ed page. The Times might as well have given a weekly column to Jayson Blair.
Now CNN, the self-anointed "Most Trusted Name in News," has thrown its arms around Snow and handed him its international megaphone.
Are the cable network's execs all suffering from amnesia? Do they not remember the extremely distant relationship Snow had with the truth during his time as Bush's mouthpiece? (In the end, of course, the crux of this problem isn't Snow, who has been hospitalized, and to whom I wish a speedy recovery. It's about the people who hired him -- and Kristol and Rove -- and their reasons for doing so.)
The prerequisite for any TV pundit is credibility. Viewers won't agree with every opinion expressed; but they do need to trust that the opinion expressed is not some pre-packaged PR pitch cooked up in the White House to keep us in the dark.
This was always Snow's specialty - along with a glib dismissiveness that made him the poster child for the Bush administration's brand of Callous Conservatism.
When the U.S. death toll in Iraq hit 2,500 in June 2006, Snow commemorated the news by saying: "It's a number."
When it was announced that in order to have enough troops for "the surge" a number of U.S. brigades would have to forego the customary preparatory training in the Mojave Desert, Snow shrugged it off: "Well, but they can get desert training elsewhere, like in Iraq."
Snow regularly displayed a gift for obfuscating rhetoric. In August 2006, faced with a rash of bombings and killings that had left 3,400 Iraqi civilians dead, Snow insisted "There is not a civil war going on" and chalked the carnage up to "a number of sectarian violence operations going on."
In December 2006, trying to put a positive spin on the highly critical nature of the Iraq Study Group, Snow insisted the report agreed with Bush's "goal" in Iraq. Reminded that the report found that the president's policies in Iraq were "not working," he replied: "No, what they said is that you need a new policy."
And he never let little things like the facts get in the way of his mission. For instance, in September 2006, just days after a Senate report unequivocally concluded there had been no pre-war relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda terrorist Abu al-Zarqawi, Snow insisted that such a relationship did exist, continuing to falsely link Saddam to 9/11 -- evidence be damned.
The fanatical right has put a modern media twist on Lenin: "Self-loathing liberals will hand us the microphone with which we will bludgeon them."