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Driving The News Cycle

news-driver.pngIn yesterday’s edition of The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby gives FDL a nice complement in regard to his anticipation of the Firepups’ reaction to the latest pompous wet fart of a column written by that noted suck-up to Beltway corporate power structures, Richard Cohen: “We’ll assume that the lazer-like team at The Lake will go through Cohen’s ludicrous piece,” he says.

And he’s right: Christy, as she has done before, just rips into Cohen’s windy, power-worshipping carcass of a column with the surgical precision of a DeBakey and the verve of a Marco Pantani smacking around Lars Ullrich in the 1998 Tour de France. Her piece, combined with Glenn Greenwald’s authoritative dissection, would in a just world cause Cohen to retire from public life and give away to the poor all of the rich fruits of his silly sycophancy.

There’s a common thread in the the Howler, FDL and Greenwald pieces about Cohen: It’s Not Just Him.

In fact, as Somerby, Smith and Greenwald all show (“Somerby, Smith and Greenwald”: Wouldn’t that be a great name for a law firm?), Cohen’s piece, irritating though it is, provides us a great service, because it brilliantly (if unintentionally) exposes what drives the people that drive our news cycle.

Specifically, they all focus on this paragraph from Cohen:

With the sentencing of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Fitzgerald has apparently finished his work, which was, not to put too fine a point on it, to make a mountain out of a molehill. At the urging of the liberal press (especially the New York Times), he was appointed to look into a run-of-the-mill leak and wound up prosecuting not the leaker — Richard Armitage of the State Department — but Libby, convicted in the end of lying. This is not an entirely trivial matter since government officials should not lie to grand juries, but neither should they be called to account for practicing the dark art of politics. As with sex or real estate, it is often best to keep the lights off.

There’s so much bullshit in this single paragraph that the members of our intrepid HAZMAT team of Somerby, Smith and Greenwald found themselves tackling different portions. Somerby expertly vivisected Cohen’s rote recitation of the conservative lie of “the liberal press (especially the New York Times)”, whereas CHS and Greenwald were all over the last “it is often best to keep the lights off” portion like fire ants on a staked-out goat. But they all came to the same conclusions:

1) Cohen’s blathering has nothing to do with journalism or decency and everything to do with pleasing the power brokers with whom he has supped and socialized for longer than many FDL readers have been alive.

2) Cohen is not the exception among Beltway and Big-Name punditjournos (what Somerby refers to as “the celebrity press corps” or “CelebCorps” for short). He is, in fact, the rule.

If you are wondering why public political discourse in this country has been so messed up for so long, you could do worse than to examine the output and career trajectory of Richard Cohen — and compare it to, say, that of Molly Ivins or Robert Parry. Those who would speak truth to power are shut out into the wilderness; those who would suck up to power have guaranteed meal tickets. We all know what Richard Cohen chose.

[UPDATE:  Check out Emptywheel’s word on the subject.  She was determined to stay away from Cohen’s latest idiocy, but when someone sent her a choice selection from his comments thread — well, you need to just go read it.]

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