Saturday, June 13, 2009

Kenneth Pollack Strikes Again

It would seem that the recent Iranian election, where Ahmadinejad wins by a suspicious lead, has Kenneth Pollack our Middle East “expert” regaling us with the following dire warning.


"But this election and their results are an important caution to Americans and everyone else on the planet: This is not a democracy."

How would Pollack know, has he ever lived in a democracy? Considering our heavy handed departure from a right to privacy, a right to have legal council, and the power of the president to decide if you are a terrorist or not which could ultimately mean you are stripped of your rights completely or as they already are, Pollack has a lot of nerve. Not to mention an election I seem to recall between Al Gore and George Bush. Pollack is on shaky ground though that is nothing new for Pollack. After all our Middle East “expert” was one of the loudest cheerleaders for the invasion of Iraq by Bush Junior and our subservient and oh-so pliable congress.

Here is what Pollack advised in his book the Threatening Storm (a cheap rip-off of Churchill’s the Gathering Storm as if Saddam Hussein were a threat comparable to Adolf Hitler).


"the only prudent and realistic course of action left to the United States is to mount a full-scale invasion of Iraq to smash the Iraqi armed forces, depose Saddam’s regime, and rid the country of weapons of mass destruction.” Pollack predicted, “It is unimaginable that the United States would have to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars and highly unlikely that we would have to contribute even tens of billions of dollars.”

Gee, we know how well all that worked out. And yet here we see that the news media still uses Pollack as a reference despite the fact that Pollack had been so overwhelmingly and spectacularly wrong about the Iraq War. I’m not really surprised by this for as Alexander Cockburn writes…


In other words, any exacting assessment of the actual performance of newspapers rated against the twaddle about the role of the Fourth Estate spouted by publishers and editors at their annual conventions would issue a negative verdict in every era. Of course there have been moments when a newspaper or a reporter could make fair claims to have done a decent job, inevitably eradicated by a panicky proprietor, a change in ownership, advertiser pressure, eviction of some protective editor or summary firing of the enterprising reporter. By and large, down the decades, the mainstream newspapers have—often rabidly—obstructed and sabotaged efforts to improve our social and political condition.

In an earlier time writers like Mencken and Hecht and Liebling loved their newspapers, but the portentous claims for their indispensable role would have made them hoot with derision, as they did the columnist Bernard Levin, decrying in the London Times at the start of the 1980s the notion of a “responsible press”: “we are, and must remain, vagabonds and outlaws, for only by so remaining shall we be able to keep the faith by which we live, which is the pursuit of knowledge that others would like unpursued and the making of comment that others would prefer unmade.”

But of course most publishers and journalists are not vagabonds and outlaws, any more than are the professors at journalism schools or the jurors and “boards” servicing the racket known as the Pulitzer industry. What the publishers were after was a 20 per cent rate of return, a desire that prompts great respect for “the rule of law,” if such laws assist in the achievement of that goal. In 1970 this meant coercing Congress to pass the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970, exempting newspapers from antitrust sanctions against price-fixing in a given market. Nixon signed the law and was duly rewarded with profuse editorial endorsements in 1972.


At June 14, 2009 5:19 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

I'm reminded of Jonathan Schwarz's frequent observation that certain persons are never punished for being wrong, especially in D.C.

At June 14, 2009 8:16 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

I've learned a lot from Jonathan Schwartz. He does the compare and contrast thing better then anyone.

I would also add that no good deed goes unpunished.


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