Two million Americans vanish!
Now, wayyyy back in the olden days, Woofketeers, a group of motorcyclists who called themselves the “Booze Fighters” rode into the small town of Hollister California and stirred up a bit of a kerfuffle. The town was hosting a motorcycle rally, but some of the Booze Fighters (who were, and remain, aptly denominated) started some fights and caused a bit of damage. Despite the minor nature of the damage and the injuries, the “Hollister riot” became a national press sensation as headlines emphasized “pandemonium” and crazed motorcyclists commandeering a town. The press, in other words, found pay dirt in this virtual non event and hyperbolized it to such an extent that it finally became its own movie, The Wild One with Marlon Brando. So what’s our point? Well, as Perry Mason always used to say, we intend to show relevance!
On September 11th, 2013, (yesterday as we post this) no fewer than 900,000 bikers, and perhaps as many as two million, entered the nation’s capital and jammed the streets of Washington DC. Further, they did so despite having been denied a permit, and further, they did so not only to pay homage to the victims of the assault on the World Trade Center, but also to protest the so-called Million Muslim March on DC scheduled for the same day.
Washington DC is still practically immobilized by the legions of Harleys that swarmed into its environs on Wednesday, and the million Muslims? There were about a hundred of them, almost exclusively 9-11 Truthers and anti-Semites come to rave about the complicity of Dick Cheney, Israel and/or the infamous Halliburton weather machine in knocking down the towers and building number 7—only to be drowned out by the dirty thunder (in Hunter Thompson’s memorable phrase) of Harley Davidsons…a sound as American as Rock and Roll, the crack of a bat on a ball, or the report of a 1911 Colt. And did you even know it happened? Well, okay, you wouldn’t be reading WOOF if you weren’t extremely well informed, so you probably did know it happened, but believe us, your neighbors don’t have a clue, because so far as any of the Liberal Establishment Media were concerned, those thousands upon thousands of bikers might as well have convened on the dark side of the moon. The event was so studiously ignored by the dinosaur networks and their cable-news counterparts that people would have scratched their heads in bewilderment had they known what they weren’t allowed to know!
The news in America is no longer a process in which hard-bitten reporters and crusty city editors go after the story no matter where it leads and print the truth no matter whom it affronts—heck no. That’s so 1947! The news today, especially the televised news, is propaganda spun to make Liberalism look good, and Conservatism look bad. And when events occur that contradict this theme and cannot be reconfigured to fit it, well…those events get “the spike,” which means they just didn’t happen. And that’s what happened to the motorcyclists in Washington DC. They just never happened on the news, because there was no way to give Obama credit for them, or make them look like they were advocating socialism. Are you kidding? Those bikers stood for unmitigated freedom, the Wild West, manifest destiny, the American Dream, and about a dozen other concepts that curdle the blood of the establishment drones that play reporters on television. So they got flushed down the memory hole even while they were clogging the avenues of the nation’s capital, gunning their 74’s and waving Old Glory! So, how did the media news get so treasonably propagandistic? How did the newshounds who turned Hollister into a national phenomenon devolute over a few decades into a credible pantomime of the three blind mice? Well, woofers, that’s what these WHITE PAPER reports are all about!
Previously on “Why All the News is Bad”….
In our last self-importantly titled WOOF WHITE PAPER REPORT [view it here] we left you with the end of Dave Garroway’s career on the TODAY program, after explaining that Mr. Garroway’s departure together with the somewhat earlier exit (resulting from unspecified personal concerns) of J. Fred Muggs, the show’s chimpanzee co-host, signaled an end to the golden era of morning television news programming. TODAY was plunged into a dark age of dopiness that began with John Chancellor taking over the program—but sitting woodenly and officiously where Uncle Dave was the epitome of cool-medium sangfroid. Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters followed, and so on down a long chain of entropic embarrassments the worst of whom were undoubtedly the addle pate Jane Pauli and the perpetually tongue-tied Tom Brokaw—but we digress. Readers may rightly wonder that so iconic a figure as Garroway was not more broadly emulated by those who followed in his footsteps, and there are two reasons for this, really. First, Garroway was a natural, and TV producers do not typically look for naturals, they simply happen upon them, so that once such talent departs they are left to hunt for imitators who pretend to be natural—and that’s how you get Jane Pauley—but anyway….the second reason is the more pertinent: By the time Garroway took his leave at the terminus of the Eisenhower era, the up-and-coming TV newsies had a new hero—one of mythological proportions. Somebody seriously important, seriously grave—seriously serious!
Even as the ‘50s shambled somnolently, unsuspectingly, toward the ‘60s, a subtle tectonic shift began to slide the American media leftwards, and this movement could never have rallied to genial Uncle Dave and his simian co-anchor—where’s the glory in that? No, while the crew at TODAY (and their imitators at the other two networks) proceeded to market a kind of cope-and-fluff badinage that mimicked only the least substantive aspect of the legendary Garroway, the rest of the go-getters in televised news fixated on that truest of all liberal emotions: Sanctimony. Sanctimony has taken the liberal media everywhere they’ve been—but what were its origins? Where was the journalistic standard for sanctimony established, and by whom? Our gentle readers will not be surprised to learn that WOOF has the answers!
Confronting the great evil…
It was not Garroway whom the young Turks of broadcasting wished to emulate, no indeed. It was Edward R. Murrow. And what does everybody know about Edward R. Murrow? Why he and the CBS news department single-handedly destroyed the most evil man who ever lived—Joseph Raymond McCarthy, right? And along with Joe McCarthy (whom biographer Thomas Reeves went so far as to call “our King John”), Murrow is said to have wiped out that horrendous “ism” that McCarthy engendered, although, sad to say, it rears its noxious head occasionally—like whenever anybody has the poor judgment to notice a communist. It is impossible to go five years without the media complex finding some way to resurrect this legend and re-teach it to the masses, so that even though most of today’s citizens cannot recall Joe McCarthy, he looms in our national psyche like a political version of Keyser Soze from the film The Usual Suspects. To paraphrase Kevin Spacey from that film, McCarthy is now “a spook story CBS tells us kids at night.”
Films like Goodnight and Good Luck add to the mythic significance (while misleading the audience with near hysteric alacrity about, among other things, the Annie Lee Moss case), as do made-for-TV “docudramas” like NBC’s ridiculously fact-challenged Tail Gunner Joe. But what Murrow really deserves credit for is pioneering “bag job” journalism, in which a story is twisted in an overtly propagandistic way to make its subject look especially horrible. Murrow’s carefully and maliciously edited slam job was so egregiously slanted in order to portray McCarthy as demonic that even Joe’s harshest critic, John Cogley of Commonweal, rose to the Senator’s defense, pointing out that ”A totally different selection of film would turn Senator McCarthy into a man on a shining white steed.” Thus it was Cogley who first warned of the amazing power of televised coverage to function as an engine of malignant distortion in the hands of unprincipled broadcasters. Contrary to CBS legend, the blast from Murrow did not end Joe’s career, and his poll numbers remained high—but the “See It Now” broadcast paved the way for his destruction by the Left, with a decisive assist from the Eisenhower administration. (Do you doubt this readers? Grab a copy of William Bragg Ewald’s Who Killed Joe McCarthy for edification!)
But Murrow’s vainglorious posturing (and the equally preposterous pretense that he was virtually taking his life in his hands by broadcasting “truth to power” on his little ol’ national network news show) inscribed the template for the journalism of destruction that became a loaded weapon in the hands of the leftwing media establishment. How do you manage to feel and appear brave? Take on seethingly demonic powers like McCarthy, or Goldwater, Reagan, or “W” Bush—guys who, in fact, can be criticized with near impunity and to wild applause from the Left—but pretend you are on a virtual suicide mission in so doing while your colleagues play along and ooh and ahhh at your boldness! And how do you manifest gravitas? Just arrange to ooze pietistic indignation while you’re at it—like Mike Wallace or Dan Rather or Keith Olbermann (who took the formula to psychedelic extremes). Somewhere, through billowing effusions of cigarette smoke, Edward R. Murrow will be smiling–wanly, of course– but smiling nonetheless.
The Camelot Illusion
Dave Garroway left the Today program in 1961, and John Kennedy became president. The same media machine that covered up FDR’s polio and would one day cover up Obama’s treasonable misconduct and embarrassingly un-American past, went to work pretending not to notice JFK’s philandering. But even then there was no hint of the left-slanted news coverage we experience today. Why, Huntley and Brinkley on NBC were famously Republican and Democrat, and led the ratings. Walter Cronkite at CBS was yet to identify himself as a full-blown progressive. He was, instead, on his way to being voted “most trusted man in America.” And at ABC Ron Cochran was inoffensive enough to be almost totally forgotten. Sorry Ron.
When shots rang out in Dealey Plaza on a sunny afternoon in Dallas, and the country was plunged without notice into the lumbering socialist experiment that was Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society,” Cronkite was the man to whom the nation turned, and with whom the nation communed during its unprecedented trauma. In times of unbridled distress it is tempting to grasp at straws—and no less so at straw men. We idealized and apotheosized Cronkite—the avuncular national media figure who emerged from that ordeal “the most trusted man in America” and made egregious use of that trust on many counts before he shambled off finally to rave radically from the cultural sidelines.
Morley and Dan and Vietnam!
Few Americans would believe that Vietnam coverage began with a giddy Walter Cronkite in a helmet and visor, riding backseat on a fighter-bomber mission, yelling “Yahoo! We really got ‘em!” as the two-seater plane’s payload shattered the jungle. Always unintelligent before he was anything else, Cronkite had not yet bought into
(or been much identified with) what would become his legendary iconicism. (But at least he had guts.) Morley Safer of CBS may have kicked Vietnam coverage leftwards with his famous Zippo lighter story in 1965. Morely attached himself to a platoon of Marines who were entering a VC-sympathetic village from which Americans had been receiving hostile fire for days. On this occasion, as ordered, the Marines evacuated the villagers from their huts and set fire to the structures to eliminate weapons caches, tunnel entrances, and covert firing positions. They also did it to firmly impress upon the villagers that enough was enough. Morley had his camera man record the burning of the huts whilst he sermonized liberally, shall we say, about the brutality of it all—and to Americans eating Swanson TV dinners while watching the evening news that August 5th it might as well have been the Japanese rape of Nanking!
Many Americans believed the military was what they saw on Gomer Pyle, USMC, or at its most brutal, perhaps, like ABC’s Combat! The “Zippo jobs” appeared shocking and brutal. Vic Morrow would never do anything like that on Combat! And Safer made sure to get footage of an old Vietnamese man weeping as his hovel was torched, making equally sure to omit any mention of the fact the village was thoroughly infiltrated by and sympathetic to the Communist guerrillas, or that Marines had been killed in the village, or that vast numbers of booby traps, trenches, tunnels, and munitions stores were discovered in and around the village. The Marines’ after-action report states that 50 structures were reduced—Safer gave the figure as 150. He carefully created an impression of sadistic American soldiers wantonly depriving peaceful villagers of their homes for the hell of it—making no mention of the fact that burning places of suspected enemy refuge was as old as war itself, and that he happened to be traveling with the only military force in history that evacuated the premises first! Back in Washington DC, President Johnson flipped out, but was sandbagged by the inchoately obdurate CBS news bureaucracy. Furious, LBJ ordered the FBI to investigate Safer. “He’s a communist!” Johnson thundered at his staff. But the FBI report stated that Safer was not a communist, he was a Canadian. “Well,” Johnson spat, “I knew he couldn’t be an American!” (Even LBJ had his moments!)
Another boy from Vietnam who bears mention is that redoubtable newshound, Dan Rather, who also reported abusively from the front, such as it was, clad in sporty bush jackets or shirts with epaulets. Rather never objects, by the way, to being described as or posturing as a former Marine, but that’s balderdash. He flunked boot camp and dropped out. Perhaps this drove him to harangue the guys who didn’t drop out, as he did habitually and in gravely censorious tones (think Ed Murrow!) during his “tour of duty” back in 1966.
The wall within…
But Rather’s greatest moment, his real chef d’oeuvre came long after he’d stepped off the plane home from Southeast Asia, and long before he went into a stoic trance, nightly repeating his certitude that his odiferously-fake George W. Bush memoranda were “unimpeachable.” Yes, Rather’s work on the infamous broadcast, The Wall Within not only typified, but probably epitomized his career as a serially slanderous Pecksniff. Indeed, the most notable aspect of Wall Within is not that it was a widely and wildly praised documentary that won many plaudits for Rather and his supposedly exhaustive research and gritty reportage—no, the more interesting datum is that it was just a template, really, to which Rather repaired repeatedly throughout his career.
Few, mercifully, now recall CBS Reports: The Wall Within, which aired on June 2, 1988. But WOOF remembers it. Viewers were treated to far greater tales of horror than Zippo lighters could ever provide (eat your heart out Morley Safer)—they were treated to the stark, violently psychotic remembrances of Vietnam vets who had waded through a nightmarish hellscape in Southeast Asia, only to return crazed and dissociated–haunted men, unappreciated by their government, and forgotten by everyone else—everyone but Dan Rather, of course, who was willing to commune with them in studiedly hushed tones, allowing them finally to seek peace in the catharsis of televised confession.
Former Navy SEAL Steve Southards spoke dramatically of his time in “Nam,” spent on secret missions killing untold hundreds of Vietnamese civilians and then tricking up the scenes of slaughter to give the impression that the VC had perpetrated the atrocities. Dan, who had obviously been studying Mike Wallace’s patented “You mean to tell me—“ kinesics, tried his own adaptation, edging closer to Southard and rasping, “You’re telling me that you went into the villages and killed, burned parts of the villages, and then made it appear that the other side had done this?” (This is where Wallace would bug out his eyes and arch his brows, but Rather’s face doesn’t work that way). Anyhow, “Yes!” Steve Southard nodded vigorously, adding in a menacing rasp, “…and I was good at what I did!”
Rather’s next case was George Grule, who spent his war on the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga, cruising the waters off of Vietnam “on a secret mission” and who described himself as suicidal as a direct result of watching his best friend walk deliberately into the spinning propeller of an AD-6 Skyraider which (of course) pulverized him, spraying his innards all over the helplessly watching Grule. As a result, Grule (like Southard) was unable to return to civil society and lived the life of a mentally tortured recluse. Even aboard ship, the horror of Vietnam took its cruel toll!
But the show stopper—Dan’s piece de resistance, was the story told by Terry Bradley who spoke at length and in lurid detail about skinning Vietnamese civilians and suspected guerillas, alive. Terry told a stoically composed but compassionately nodding Rather that he had once skinned 50 screaming Vietnamese men, women, and boys, and stacked their bodies like cord wood, all in the space of an hour. (One thinks here—or at least we do—of Mark Twain’s hilarious essay on “Cooper Indians” wherein the ridiculousness of behaviors ascribed to Indians portrayed in James Fennimore Cooper’s novels is made manifest by careful consideration) “You stack up every way a body could be mangled—an arm, a tit, an eyeball…imagine us over there for a year doing this intensely!” Yes, quite! A lesser man might have been at a loss for words, but not Dan. He looked squarely at Bradley and gently drawled, “you’ve got to be angry about it!”
But nobody was as angry as the Veterans Administration and researcher B. G. Burkett, himself a Vietnam vet. Neither the VA nor Burkett had to do very much digging to realize that Rather’s entire report was less “Wall Within” and more wall-to-wall bull scat. Southards, for instance, the SEAL who mass murdered civilians for the CIA, never actually served in combat. He turned out to have been an equipment repairman stationed safely in the secure rear. Poor George Gruel whose best buddy snapped during a secret mission and hugged a spinning airplane propeller, was never on a secret mission. While a crewman did in fact walk into a propeller (accidentally) during Gruel’s time aboard the Ticonderoga. Gruel had not been on deck to witness the incident, which in any case occurred off the coast of California, where the carrier did most of her cruising when Gruel was aboard …not during a “secret mission” to Vietnam.
And what about Terry Bradley, so talented that he could skin 50 wiggling, screaming human beings in 60 minutes and live to tell Dan Rather about it? Well, Terry never saw combat either. In fact, he hardly ever saw the depot where he was supposed to be an ammo handler for the 25th Infantry division because he spent a year of his hitch in the stockade for repeatedly going AWOL. As Anne Morse of the National Review noted years ago, after reporting on Rather’s little exercise in carnographic fiction—all of these vets were easily checkable through a variety of sources. The special operations community is tiny in contrast to the rest of the military establishment, and it was tinier still in Vietnam. Checking to see who had endured basic underwater demolition/SEAL training in a class with Southard would have been simple—and the answer would have been: nobody!
A bright and shining liar…
Why did Rather simply ignore his responsibility to get his story straight before broadcasting it into millions of American homes? It is too simple to shrug and tell ourselves, well, he’s stupid. That’s only half the story—the other half is, he’s duplicitous. For decades he disguised duplicity as a dutiful, noble thing. He made of it, to borrow John Paul Vann’s unforgettable phrase, a bright and shining lie. But he got caught. It didn’t matter to Dan or his network when The Wall Within was exposed– not at all. Because nobody would report that Rather had been caught—but by 2004 the rules had changed, and Dan hadn’t noticed—that’s the stupid part! Back in the 80’s, Rather refused to comment after his falsifications were exposed, and he had nothing to say either about the scary statistics he’d invented for rates of suicide, homelessness, and mental disturbances among returning Vietnam vets, all bogus. But CBS president Howard Stringer wasn’t struck dumb. When asked why the entire presentation, stem to stern, had been wholesale malarkey, he shrugged and handed out a response that could only have sufficed in a three-network era of monopolized newscasting. “Your criticisms,” he harrumphed, “were not shared by a vast majority of our viewers. CBS News and its affiliates received acclaim from most quarters . . . In sum, this was a broadcast of which we at CBS News and I personally am [sic] proud. There are no apologies to make.” Right! And you know, every word of that statement is true, until you get to the no-apologies-to-make part. Liberals always applaud and reward themselves for their flapdoodle. It’s tradition. And by the time the war in Vietnam concluded, it was solidly entrenched.
How Uncle Walter Ended the War!
If Nobel Prizes went to the deserving, Walter Cronkite would have won one for ending the war in Vietnam. Well, he actually threw it, more than ended it, but as his personal relations with LBJ soured for various reasons, Cronkite became ardently critical of U.S. involvement. Now widely hailed as the “most trusted man in America,” Uncle Walter had his way at CBS. Night after night he busied himself shaping the news to the Left, spiking stories that contradicted his favorite talking points, and advancing what by now was a full-blown left wing agenda. Cronkite, more than any other individual in this axial period of media coverage set the standard for what would become the Liberal newscast—carefully crafted propaganda sold to the viewer with an air of avuncular sincerity. He was infinitely better at it than today’s vapid assemblage, and the Tet Offensive in 1968 made his day.
The Tet Offensive produced shock and awe in South Vietnam, combining surprise with the concerted effort to bring violent warfare to the most secure and pacified areas of the country. During an agreed upon cease fire in honor of the Tet New Year, (because it only seemed the civil thing to do, after all) the communists hurled 80,000 troops into 100 towns and cities. The surprise was total, and the impression was that America, despite all its claims, had no control of the situation even in its own rear areas. The offensive was the largest military operation conducted by either side up to that point in the war, partially because Robert McNamara’s moronic policies precluded any American offensives against the North. Even so, Tet was a mammoth failure for the communists. Hanoi underestimated the mobility of the American and South Vietnamese response. The general uprising the North had expected to inspire in the South did not materialize. The poor tactics inherent in attacking so many objectives thinly rather than a few objectives in force led to the communist forces being stopped, isolated, and destroyed piecemeal. Communist General Tran Van Tra admitted, “We did not correctly evaluate the specific balance of forces between ourselves and the enemy, did not fully realize that the enemy still had considerable capabilities, and that our capabilities were limited, and set requirements that were beyond our actual strength.” Oops. Sorry about that, Tran—in fact, the immediate result of Tet was the complete destruction of the Viet Cong infrastructure, but the Reds soon became aware of a different sort of victory—one they admitted later they had never predicted or expected.
Enter Walter Cronkite, who knew about as much about the science of war as he did about Sumerian pronounal declensions. Walter looked America right in the eyeballs, shook his jowls poignantly, and told us, “we are mired in a stalemate that could only be ended by negotiation, not victory.” Shortly thereafter support for the war dropped from 74 to 54 percent, and continued to erode. The communists in Saigon had been handed a miracle—the total destruction of 80,000 Viet Cong was transformed into an American defeat in Vietnam by trusty Uncle Walter, who later huffed that his newscasts had ended the war. They didn’t, of course, any more than Murrow’s kvetching ended McCarthyism, but they may well have shaped the course that led to our discomfiture and the wanton slaughter of 75,000 of our former allies in the South.
Richard Nixon, for all his flaws, nearly won a just and lasting peace in Southeast Asia by battering the North with B-52 strikes (attacking the enemy’s homeland? Imagine!) and briefly invading Cambodia to wipe out communist supplies and reserve forces. His truce with the North might have held had he himself not been victimized by American journalists bent on removing him from office, and forced to resign. The great sin of Watergate, the offense for which Nixon was savaged by Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein, was that the president’s men, led by the G. Gordon Liddy, had bungled a break-in at the Watergate hotel intended to “bug” the Democratic headquarters during an election year—just as LBJ had bugged Goldwater’s headquarters in 1964. Much, in fact–although nobody discusses this– the way Walter Cronkite bugged the GOP convention in 1952—WOOF is not making this up!
Nor shall we make up an iota of the next thrilling episode of WOOF’s hard-hitting critique of electronic journalism in the age of media-ocrity, Woofketeers! Every word will be true, (or we couldn’t say it on the Internet!) Don’t miss installment three, “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” coming soon!