If you are looking for definitive proof that the So-Called Liberal Media does not exist, you need look no further than the checkered career of Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff, right.
Today, he’s known as one of the authors of the Newsweek item in which an unnamed Pentagon “media person” confirmed that charges that U.S. interogators defiled the Qu’ran were going to appear in an official report on abuse of Moslem prisoners at the Guantanamo internment camp. It turns out the unnamed source was playing Newsweek for the fools they are. This source in the Bush Administration recanted – and now the Bush Administration is laying blame for the deaths of rioters in Afghanistan at the feet of Newsweek and Isikoff.
(In light of the 100,000-plus deaths caused by Bush Administration lies about Iraq, the fact that they can lay this guilt trip on Newsweek – or anyone – seemingly without irony proves that the Bush high command suffers from a collective pathology.)
For many of us, however, Isikoff – who was nicknamed “Spikey” by either Luciane Goldberg or Linda Tripp (can’t remember and who cares) – played a key role in bringing about the impeachment of President Clinton in the late 1990’s.
MediaMatters, the website published by David Brock, who was then a part of the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy but has since come back from the Dark Side, reminds us of Spikey’s water-bearing for the VRC back then :
If the news organizations that are spending so much time on Newsweek bothered to look at Isikoff’s background, they would find a reporter with a history of relying on unreliable sources — in addition to Paula Jones, there are such discredited Clinton accusers as Kathleen Willey, Linda Tripp, and Lucianne Goldberg…
Isikoff’s leading role in reporting sex stories relied heavily on his relationships with Tripp and Goldberg, who provided leads, testimony, and tapes of secretly recorded conversations. However, Tripp’s and Goldberg’s actions were motivated by their personal interests: specifically, animosity toward Clinton and financial windfall. As [Sydney] Blumenthal noted in The Clinton Wars, Goldberg had arranged to play for Isikoff taped conversations between Tripp and Lewinsky about Lewinsky’s relationship with Clinton, hoping that “playing the tapes would get Isikoff to write something that would provide publicity so that she could sell Tripp’s book.” Isikoff declined to listen to the tapes during the period when Tripp was continuing to record conversations with Lewinsky, but eventually quoted from them after the conversations ceased…
Isikoff also floated the claim, which later proved false, that the Clinton legal team had been involved in suborning perjury in the creation of a “talking points” document that Lewinsky gave Tripp in advance of her filing an affidavit in the Jones case. As journalist Joe Conason and political columnist Gene Lyons noted in their book, The Hunting of the President (Thomas Dunne Books, 2000), Isikoff later expressed regret at his role in advancing that story, claiming to have simply forgotten that the “talking points” closely mirrored a letter Tripp herself had written to Newsweek long before. [p. 356]…
As I used to tell my conservative friends (I say “used to tell” because I don’t know any conservatives at the moment) when we debated the “Librul Media” bugaboo, journalists have “liberal” views because they have chosen a profession in which a central objective is challenging orthodoxy. Propping up orthodoxy is what conservatives do. Poking and prodding the status quo is what liberals do.
But all that high-mindedness falls to the wayside for reporters who have lucked their way into the top tier of the national media – often referred to as “the Gang of 500.” These people would kill their mothers to get a story that would put them in the running for a Pulitzer. Whether the potential Pulitzer story might lead to negative fallout for Democrats or liberal causes is simply not a factor in pursuing it.
Isikoff is the poster child for this mindset.
In the 1990s, Michael Isikoff made a deal with Satan incarnated as a Rightwing cabal intent on bringing down the Clintons. That cozy arrangement has now become his likely downfall. He made a fatal error. He trusted Republicans. If they hang him for it, I, for one, won’t be sad.