I've heard some lame excuses, but what we're hearing from American editors as to why they took a month to start letting Americans know about the Downing Street memoranda is beyond pathetic.
These are the memos that are all over the British media, documenting the lying and duplicity of Bush crew in secretly planning to go to war against Iraq as early as the fall of 2001 or spring of 2002, while pretending to be seeking a peaceful solution. USA Today's editor, David Cox, was quoted in an article in his own paper saying he didn't run the memos because he "couldn’t get a verifiable copy" of the initial memo, written by Richard Dearlove, the head of British intelligence and presented to Tony Blair.
Couldn’t get a copy? It was published by Rupert Murdoch's Times of London! One of USA Today's British correspondents could have walked into the Times' offices and photocopied that paper’s copy—or the one at the BBC. What a joke!
When I used to work in daily newspapers, I had city editors who would have skewered me or any reporter on a spike for trying to make such a limp excuse for not obtaining an important document in a story.
Many editors blame AP, as if the only way they can do a story these days is if they can pull it off the wire! And AP's editor simply says his organization "dropped the ball" in not running stories on the memoranda (there is more than one surfacing now in the British media, all pointing to the clear fact that the Bush administration was going to war behind the public's back and manufacturing the evidence to convince us of the need to invade). If a pro ball player dropped this important a ball, he'd be sent back to the farm team.
Some editors were just dishonest. The Philadelphia Inquirer, a once proud investigative reporting venue that has become an entertainment rag afraid of its own shadow, actually ignored a decent early report on the Downing Street memo and its import written by the bureau chief of Knight-Ridder’s Washington bureau (the paper wasn’t alone among K-R chain papers in ducking the story). The N.Y. Times has yet to make the information in the memos a page-one piece in their own right, preferring grudging inside thumb-suckers.
From my vantage point, I'd say the tradition of investigative reporting, perhaqps even reporting in the broadest sense, in the American corporate media can now be called dead, killed by a bunch of careerist cowards in editorial positions who are afraid challenging government authority is bad for business and for promotion prospects. As with poor Terri Schiavo, the most charitable thing viewers and readers can do at this point is to pull the plug and stop trying to learn anything of use from these dinosaurs.
For the rest of this column and other stories by Lindorff, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .