Thursday, February 15, 2007

Watergate Reporter : For Lies And Distortions, Bush Even Tops Nixon

Carl Bernstein spent years trying to carve a coherent path through the intricacies of the Nixon administration, along with fellow journo Bob Woodward, to tell the story of the Watergate scandal that eventually led to President Richard M. Nixon resigning, live on TV.

After years following the mutated truths and outright lies of the Bush administration, Bernstein recently gave an interview for a PBS documentary where he ripped into the most powerful man in the world, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and today's underwhelming crop of White House correspondents, who he views as mostly toothless and too involved in the system of spreading disinformation and pre-packaged propaganda on behalf of President Bush.

Here's some of Bernstein's key quotes, as published on Raw Story and Editor & Publisher :
Nixon's relationship to the press was consistent with his relationship to many institutions and people. He saw himself as a victim. We now understand the psyche of Richard Nixon, that his was a self-destructive act and presidency.

The lying in the Nixon White House had most often to do with covering up Watergate, with the Nixon administration's illegal activities. Here, in this presidency, there is an unwillingness to be truthful, both contextually and in terms of basic facts that ought to be of great concern to people of all ideologies. ...

The Bush administration is a far different matter in which disinformation, misinformation and unwillingness to tell the truth -- a willingness to lie both in the Oval Office, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, in the office of the vice president, the vice president himself -- is something that I have never witnessed before on this scale.

This president has a record of dishonesty and obfuscation that is Nixonian in character in its willingness to manipulate the press, to manipulate the truth. We have gone to war on the basis of misinformation, disinformation and knowing lies from top to bottom.

It's very difficult, as a reporter, to get across that when you say, "This is a presidency of great dishonesty," that this is not a matter of opinion. This is demonstrable fact. If you go back and look at the president's statements, you look at the statements of the vice president, you look at the statements of Condoleezza Rice, you go through the record, you look at what [counterterrorism expert] Richard Clarke has written, you look at what we know -- it's demonstrable.

It's fact. Now, how do you quantify it? That's a different question.

But to me, if there is a great failure by the so-called mainstream press in this presidency, it's the unwillingness to look at the lies and disinformation and misinformation and add them up and say clearly, "Here's what they said; here's what the known facts were," because when that is done, you then see this isn't a partisan matter. This is a matter of the truth, particularly about this war. This is a presidency that is not willing to tell the truth very often if it is contrary to its interests. It's not about ideology from whence I say this.

It's about being a reporter and saying: "That's what the story is. Let's see what they said; let's see what the facts are."