Just when the effusive outpouring of claptrap over the death of TV news celebrity Tim Russert threatened to choke us in a cloud of sentimental exhaust, a breath of fresh air arrived on June 23 in a column by Chris Hedges at truthdig.com titled "The Hedonists of Power."
"We were instructed by the high priests on television over the past few days to mourn a Sunday morning talk show host, who made $5 million a year and who gave a platform to the powerful and the famous so they could spin, equivocate and lie to the nation," Hedges writes. "We were repeatedly told by these television courtiers, people like Tom Brokaw and Wolf Blitzer, that this talk show host was one of our nation’s greatest journalists, as if sitting in a studio, putting on makeup and chatting with Dick Cheney or George W. Bush have much to do with journalism."
Quoting the great muckraker I.F. Stone, Hedges reminds us that all governments lie, and it is "the job of the journalist to do the hard, tedious reporting to shine a light on these lies." It is the job of TV courtiers, by contrast, to "feed off the scraps tossed to them by the powerful and never question the system."
These courtiers, Hedges continues, "including the late Tim Russert, never gave a voice to credible critics in the buildup to the war against Iraq. They were too busy playing their roles as red-blooded American patriots. They never fought back in their public forums against the steady erosion of our civil liberties and the trashing of our Constitution."