Thursday, September 21, 2006

Why Indeed?

Via Tim Lambert at Deltoid, I read:
When NOAA press officer Laborde was contacted to discuss the e-mails, he denied that interviews were subject to approval from White House officials. Confronted with his own e-mails, however, he said, "If you already knew the answer, why did you ask the question?"

And this is one aspect of the Bush Admin’s abuse of journalist methods that will perhaps always bother me: That journalists insist on confirmation of things they already know. And that just makes sense, for standard journalism. It’s not enough that they know things; they have to be able to prove things. And someone’s not lying until they admit that they’re lying. That should just be standard.

But if you already know something and your target has a history of lying to you about it, it’s time to come out with a different tact. Because the Bushies are totally onto this idea and continue to milk it for all it’s worth. They know that honesty and openness is for dopes and they can get much more through other means. Deception is so ingrained in them that it’s quite possible that press officer Laborde honestly wanted to know why he was being asked the question. To a Bushie, it’s like asking them if they want to breathe. They have no other choice.

And so you get press conferences and gaggles in which the reporters already know all the answers, but as long as the Prez or press secretary refuse to answer the question, the reporters won’t print it. Nor will they write about how they’re being stonewalled. Instead, they keep trying to weasel out the truth, aiming to trip-up Bush or an underling to accidentally admit to something. It’s like the press is so wrapped-up in the game that they’ve forgotten that they’re discussing something real.

And worst of all, even when they catch the Bushies in a lie, they still won’t outright call it that. Instead, they rely on winking euphemisms that everyone’s supposed to understand…but obviously won’t. And if you’re using an unclear euphemism to describe a lie, you might as well just call it a lie. And the Bushies will keep this up forever. It is almost never in their best interests to confess to anything and they rarely do. The few times honesty has come through, they’ve always regretted it. As I’ve argued before, for Republicans, honesty is the worst policy.

And again, I understand the need for these rules of journalism; but there really comes a time when you’ve got to see you’re being used and abused and break outside of that. The Bushies will never admit to lying or wrong-doing or anything bad. Try as you might, you’ll just be lied to, stonewalled, and deceived again and again.

And so if you already know the answer, why ask them the question? Laborde is obviously distressed about this, but when Bushies usually ask the question, it’s only for their own private amusement. They’ve turned journalism into a game and almost never lose. Journalists need to stop playing.

1 comment:

whig said...

"If you already knew the answer, why did you ask the question?"

Lawyers are used to playing this game with witnesses on the stand. Sometimes the reason you ask is simply to see if the witness will lie and thereby discredit himself.