By MARC MCDONALD
Over the years, there has been a long list of Republicans that Democrats love to hate: Richard Nixon. Newt Gingrich. Bill O'Reilly. Kenneth Starr. Tom DeLay. Rush Limbaugh. Ad nauseam.
But of all the GOP figures in the history of the Republic, I'd say that none inspires more intense loathing than George W. Bush.
I have to admit, I myself am a fully-paid-up, card-carrying member of the Bush-hater's club. I despise Bush with every fiber of my being. I have a difficult time watching his smirking face on TV, without feeling a powerful need to smash the screen.
But on the other hand, I sometimes wonder if we progressives are directing our rage and anger to the right target.
Sure, Bush is evil. He has the blood of thousands of Iraqi men, women, and children on his hands, all for a war that was based on lies. He is a puppet in the most corrupt administration in the history of America. He shamelessly wraps himself in the American flag and the Bible. He is a coward, who refused to serve his country in Vietnam. He always had everything handed to him on a silver platter by his rich, powerful family and yet never tires of advocating "rugged individualism" and "self reliance" for everyone else. Etc. Etc.
But shouldn't it be the U.S. mainstream media that our anger is directed toward?
After all, you really can't blame Bush for being Bush. I mean, lying, cheating, stealing and corruption is what this man is all about. What else do you expect from a Bush? Blaming Bush for the way he acts is like blaming a tiger for eating a small child that wandered into its zoo cage.
On the other hand, we should be blaming the media for a multitude of sins. The media in this country is supposed to have a watchdog role. It's supposed to keep an eye on our leaders and hold them accountable for their actions. Above all, the media is supposed to tell America the truth (even if the truth hurts).
At one time in our nation's history, our media did all of the above. The Fourth Estate was an institution that we could all be proud of. It was widely emulated and admired around the world. It was a mover and shaker in American affairs and it worked hard to draw attention to America's problems.
But today, the media itself is clearly the problem. I'd venture to say that the mainstream media is America's biggest problem today---and it poses the biggest obstacle to this nation returning to a democracy that represents the people.
The Judith Miller case sums up much of what is wrong with the media today. When Bush was peddling his case for war, many of us at the time figured it was based on pack of lies.
What did the media do in the build-up to the Iraq war? Did it investigate Bush's case for war? Did it bring a healthy skepticism to this story?
No. It simply parroted the Bush White House's lies, thus actually giving them a veneer of credibility. Later, the media also stood on the sidelines and acted as a cheerleader as our armed forces rolled into Iraq.
The U.S. mainstream media has probably reached its lowest point ever, for truthfulness and credibility. The same media that gave the Monica Lewinsky case 18 months of around-the-clock saturation coverage, has become nothing less than the mouthpiece of the Bush White House.
The same media that did hard-hitting, exhaustive investigative coverage of overblown "scandals" like Whitewater has snoozed through one Bush White House outrage after another, from Jeff Gannon, to the Downing Street Memo.
The fact, is the U.S. media has been handling Bush with kid-gloves since Day One. I have yet to see Bush get a hard-ball question in a U.S. press conference. Bush can lie through his teeth all day and never face a challenge from the press.
Remember when Bush was interviewed by the Irish journalist Carol Coleman last year? Bush seemed to be taken aback by her hard-hitting questions. Bush was actually offended that Coleman wasn't lobbing the usual softball fluff questions that he'd gotten used to from the U.S. press corps.
Bush has always gotten an easy ride from the U.S. media. Remember, this is a man who to this day has never been called to task by the mainstream media for the lies he told way back in the 2000 election campaign.
"By far the vast majority of my tax cuts go to those at the bottom end of the spectrum," Bush said at the time. I'm still waiting for the media to challenge that 5-year-old whopper.
So the next time you simmer with anger over Bush's latest outrage, be sure to remember the U.S. mainstream media's role in allowing the horrors of the past few years to happen. The fact is, if Bush was really held accountable for his crimes by the media, there would have been a popular outcry for his impeachment a long time ago.