Saturday, March 31, 2007

Saying what needs to be said

Courtesy of Aaron Swartz. John Hockenberry spoke recently at the MIT Media Lab: "Beyond the Long Tail: Media, Tools, and the Madness of Popular Culture."

There's a piece in there about Karl Rove thinking we would improve our image in the Middle East once we got in there and started kicking ass and taking names.

But the more interesting part is about Hockenberry and NBC execs reviewing tape of "Shock and Awe." Hockenberry talks about his groupthink experience:
We played this piece for the editors. And it was very moving, very powerful, and it was a very different perspective from what we were getting. And at the end [...] there was quiet around the table, because it was kind of an emotional piece and certainly the emotion in this reporter's voice was detectable over a satellite phone line.

And the standards person goes -- and again, this is his job, I don't begrudge him that -- he goes, "Seems like, seems like she has a point of view here."

The table was silent. Just dead silent. And I was infuriated. But whenever I get this sort of infuriated feeling I think "You know, this is a career-ending moment here." There is something I could say that would be right. There is something I could say that would be wrong. And there is something that I could say that would be right -- and also would be wrong.

And it was the beginning of the coverage of an event that would be extraordinary and I definitely wanted to be around to be a part of the next day's coverage, but I had to say something. And it seemed as though, if nobody said anything, people would go "well, I guess we'll have to tone her down."

So I said, "You mean, the war-is-bad point of view?"
The piece aired, Hockenberry said.

Over the last few years we have seen the terrible results of people suppressing their consciences and better instincts, holding their tongues and going along to get along.

Follow the leader.

Do what you're told.

Don't rock the boat.

Take one for the team.

And most have known. Yes, they've known something wasn't right. But they said nothing. They'd rather be winners, stay on top, keep their jobs, get reelected, win the chairmanship or the White House. They beat their chests about how they value the truth and the rule of law, all the while trying to beat down the feeling Hockenberry describes.

Matthew Dowd, the president’s longtime aide and chief campaign strategist for 2004, has had a crisis of conscience and has finally chosen to speak out. The NYT reports, "Looking back, Mr. Dowd now says his faith in Mr. Bush was misplaced."
Mr. Dowd said, in retrospect, he was in denial.
You don't say?

You didn't say.

[h/t Atrios]

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