The corporate media and the American political system have a relationship that can only be described as corrupt. The media long ago rendered themselves incapable of informing the public of anything important or providing any meaningful analysis. They no longer even bother to hide their bias in favor of right-wing politics and corporate interests.
This conflict of interest was made obvious when U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., became involved in an incident with a Capitol police officer. Around the same time, ex-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, indicted for conspiracy and money laundering, announced that he would not run for re-election.
DeLay continued his snake-like ways until the very end. He stayed in a race he was likely to lose because campaign funds can also be used to pay for legal fees. Tom will have to pay plenty for his lawyers, hence the 11th-hour announcement that he was bowing out.
He couldn't go out with any class, of course. After whining that he was being picked on for being a Christian, the indicted DeLay said that McKinney should face an ethics charge and called her a racist. If McKinney hadn't gotten into a shoving match with a cop, she would have to have been invented. Otherwise, the media would have had to continue talking about Katie Couric's move to CBS.
There was worse to come. On the same day that McKinney apologized for pushing, shoving or slapping, DeLay sent a goon squad to push, shove and slap anyone who attended a press conference for Nick Lampson, a Democrat running for DeLay's vacated seat. DeLay's campaign manager sent an e-mail beseeching supporters, "Let's give Lampson a parting shot that wrecks his press conference."
CNN never aired the footage showing DeLay's goons. They did repeatedly air footage of a confrontation between a McKinney staffer and a reporter.
Cynthia McKinney isn't a crook, but you wouldn't know that from the vitriolic press coverage she's received. Even liberals took their pot shots. She has passionately spoken against the occupation of Iraq. She didn't lie to Congress or the United Nations about weapons of mass destruction and she hasn't profited from the destruction of a nation. She didn't shoot a lawyer with a shotgun and then dispatch a private citizen to make the announcement — only vice presidents get to do that.
The other members of the Congressional Black Caucus were silent while McKinney twisted in the wind by herself. They could have pointed out that unlike Delay, she and her staff won't soon be modeling orange prison-issue jumpsuits. If all else failed, they could have just pointed out the wrongdoing of Republicans. Instead they said nothing at all.
If there was any doubt that the fix was in, Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball, proved that even disgraced, criminal Republicans are the masters and the media are the lackeys. Matthews interviewed DeLay and was caught with his pants down during a commercial break.
MATTHEWS: Hey thank you for calling me. It was a good thing for me, mostly.
DELAY: Oh really.
MATTHEWS: Oh of course it was. We got on the air as fast as we could … . Have you seen this new focus group stuff on the candidates?
DELAY: No, I haven't.
MATTHEWS: It's great stuff. I'll send it to you — it's great — yeah it's great stuff. Hillary, John Kerry. All these guys, all these Democrats, and how they do. ... And Hillary (Clinton) did not do well. Kerry did well.
DELAY: You're kidding.
MATTHEWS: I am not kidding. They didn't like (John) Edwards — they thought he was a rich lawyer, pretending to care about poor people ... .
DELAY: Too slick. Too slick.
MATTHEWS: ... And Hillary was a know-it-all.
DELAY: Nothing worse than a woman know-it-all.
While Matthews confessed to being in thrall to Republican pollsters and crooks, McKinney unintentionally became the media distraction that took Republican corruption off the front page.
Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney's indicted former chief of staff, recently testified under oath that President Bush himself authorized leaks of classified information.
That can mean only one thing — a new media distraction is on its way.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly on www.blackcommentator.com.