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Come Saturday Morning: Truth, “Balance”, and the Traditional Media

Why does our wonderful corporate media unquestioningly push seemingly every right-wing smear that comes down the pike? Why do they continue to pretend that there is no such thing as truth, just a strange sort of “balance” that always seems to skew in favor of promoting lies and hiding the truth? Cowardice and complicity.

Cowardice, because the journalists and editors in a position to stop it don’t dare. Complicity, because the reason they don’t dare is that they know the folks who sign off on their paychecks are themselves right-wing corporatists for the most part.

We have already seen a major taste of this earlier this week, in the eagerness with which “respectable” media went and treated the Fox-promoted emanations of Andrew Breitbart — a known fabulist — as if they were the unimpeachable Word of God. Now we have the hyperventilating over the as-yet unproved ethics allegations directed against Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY), whereas another scandalous story somehow never made it from Politico’s pages to any of the evening news shows, much less got plastered all over every web ISP’s front page and news site portal:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has turned over e-mails to federal authorities investigating Sen. John Ensign’s extramarital affair with a campaign aide, the latest sign that the criminal probe into the embattled Nevada Republican is picking up steam.

Coburn told POLITICO that he is cooperating with the Justice Department in the investigation of Ensign, and says he’s willing to submit himself to an interview with the FBI or Senate Select Committee on Ethics, which is conducting a parallel investigation into whether Ensign broke Senate rules.


After he admitted to his affair with Cynthia Hampton [the wife of former Ensign aide Doug Hampton], Ensign has been hit with a series of damaging revelations that suggest he may have taken extraordinary — and potentially illegal — steps to conceal the episode. Investigators are looking into a $96,000 payment his parents made to the Hamptons, potentially as a severance package that he would have been required to report under federal disclosure laws. And after Doug Hampton left his office as a high-level Senate aide, Ensign helped him start a lobbying career, including arranging clients and meetings — potentially flouting a federally required cooling-off period in which former staff is prohibited from lobbying.

A federal grand jury has also subpoenaed the National Republican Senatorial Committee and several Nevada credit-card companies, looking for information on whether Ensign offered to help the firms on legislative issues in return for donations to the committee.


In 2008, Doug Hampton asked Coburn for his help in getting financial restitution from Ensign, who, Hampton said, aggressively pursued his wife and left his family in financial shambles.

“This was at the request of Tom Coburn and some people to try and help them manage John,” Hampton said last year on the Las Vegas political talk show “Face to Face.”

“I didn’t talk to John Ensign personally at all. Our attorneys did talk,” Hampton said. “Our attorneys absolutely talked, because Sen. Tom Coburn asked and was involved in these negotiations out of good will and good faith.”

Doug Hampton confronted Ensign in February 2008 at the Christian fellowship home on Capitol Hill where Ensign, Coburn and several other lawmakers lived. When news of Coburn’s involvement in the scandal leaked, the Oklahoma Republican initially accused Hampton of lying about his role in the incident.

Then Coburn made the unusual claim that his conversations with Ensign were “privileged” because he is a physician and ordained deacon. But Coburn later backed off that assertion. Coburn then admitted that he had known about the affair for more than a year, but still downplayed his actions.

Anyone here doubt that if Coburn or Ensign had “D”s after their names, this would have shoved Rangel out of the lead story slots last night? Yet I’ll bet that unless you’re a resident of Nevada or Oklahoma, or a regular Politico reader, this is the first you’ve heard of it.

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