A Bunch of Hooey on "Torture"
For what it matters, Obama has been very consistent on this topic from Day One, and I know, because I was the very first reporter to ask him about the notion of prosecuting Bush White House officials -- inspired specifically by the torture issue -- when the then-candidate visited the Daily News 12 months ago.
Well, bully for Bunch. He was the first "reporter" to float the prosecution balloon for our future president. And who is in a better position to lecture the President of the United States about his duties than, you know, a reporter.
And yet, according to Bunch, his fellow journalists have not only let him down, we have let down the entire country. We were co-conspirators when it came to Bush's war. And now some of us are co-conspirators in attempts to block these criminals from being brought justice.
Almost every flaw of our craft has been on display in the last week or two -- the pleading for a middle-of-the-road answer to a problem where there is no middle ground, the phony "he said, she said" journalism that gives a 50 percent voice to the advocates of American-bred torture, the use of unnecessary anonymous quotes to defend the indefensible, the need for an elite inside-the-Beltway clique to circle the wagons, to insist that aggressive prosecution is only for the crimes that "regular people" commit.
Bunch is very ashamed of his peers.
What a shame. Although it is tragic that we must be talking about something like torture in the United States of America in 2009, this issue does offer modern journalism a chance to do something we have not done in at least a generation -- and that is to provide this nation, our readers and viewers, with moral clarity and leadership.
Ah yes. What would the country do without the "moral clarity and leadership" of a bunch of Will Bunches? Pretty much lapse into the darkness that was the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and the first decade of the new millenium. Now that Barack Obama is president it is time for the moral media majority to stand up and be heard. To help their new leader to see the path to righteousness. And if you're a journalist, who's got a different opinion about the use of harsh interrogation techniques to prevent terror attacks, you can just sit down and shut up.
Hearing from the other side in the "torture" debate and reporting it is, to Bunch's mind, contemptible. As he mockingly writes:
I don't know any journalist who thinks there are two sides to freedom of the press, so why should freedom from torture be any different?
Excuse me there, Will, but there ARE very often two sides to "freedom of the press" issues in this country. Why does you think we have libel laws? Why do some journalists go to jail to protect their sources? Media members are not free to withhold information from authorities when a crime has been committed any more than any other citizen is. Journalists who try to hide behind their press credentials can find themselves hauled into court. Sometimes the freedoms enjoyed by the press have to be balanced against the responsibility of governments to protect state secrets.
But I suppose, if one is imbued with the kind of "moral clarity" that Will Bunch and his ilk enjoy, life is so much easier. The rest of us should just shut up and allow them to lead us into the light. They have the torches to do it. Pitch forks too.