Media Enabled Bush 1's Savage Attacks on Maddow and Olbermann, Yet Continue to Ignore Bush Family's Sordid Past
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
The other day, George H.W. Bush fired a salvo against mean media liberals who savaged his son. Soon, brickbats were flying to and fro about who said what about whom. But this mini-controversy is nothing more than a distraction from the real story: even the most animated of Bush critics on television have not gotten around to acknowledging the full, unspeakably dark nature of the Bush enterprise. Bush41, it turns out, has nothing at all to complain about.
The kerfuffle began last Friday, when CBS ran a story on its website about George H.W. Bush criticizing MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow for edgy rhetoric and name-calling, in which he then … called them names -- specifically, “sick puppies.”
"The way they treat my son and anyone who's opposed to their point of view is just horrible," Mr. Bush said. "When our son was president they just hammered him mercilessly and I think obscenely a lot of the time and now it's moved to a new president," he added.
Of course, this is ridiculous on many counts. First is the absurdity of the man who employed the political assassin Lee Atwater (look up Willie Horton) and gave Karl Rove his first job, whining about incivility. Then there is the way the former president glided over the snapping trash- mouths and conjurers of the Right, from Limbaugh to Hannity to Beck, who dominate and influence the media’s vast market of vulnerable and hurting Americans. And finally, it is hard to recall criticism of H.W.’s son that was wildly inaccurate, truly out of bounds, or not reflective of the awful reality of W.’s presidency.
The real problem is not that popular media figures have gone after the Bushes, it is quite the opposite: that they have stopped well short of sharing the full story with the American people.
CBS inadvertently touched on this when it reported H.W.’s general satisfaction with how his personal saga was playing out in his golden years:
“Mr. Bush also said his own life is "very good, very private."
Perfect irony resides in that remark. One reason that the elder Bush’s life is so very good, and remains so very private, is because of the media’s failure to unearth the extent of the continuing deception perpetrated by the Bush family and their allies. The guilty parties surely include CBS itself -- which stopped asking questions when under pressure and unceremoniously tossed to the lions Dan Rather, the most visible television personality willing to dig into the truth about the Bushes.
That the bigger picture never emerged is not only the fault of the mainstream, however, but also of the very “liberals” castigated by the elder Bush. Our favorite television talking heads continue to focus on the failings of the George W. Bush Administration without providing the added context from substantive discoveries about the Bush family and their longer-term activities that would shock the nation and the world.
In early 2009, the respected publisher Bloomsbury released Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means For America. This was the result of five years of deep research I conducted into the rise of the Bushes, into those who propelled them to the top and kept them there through decades, and their long-term and continuing grip on policy. The book contains page after page of revelations about things we need to know but have collectively missed, and about a nexus of power that shapes the American destiny to this moment.
Here is a little taste of what Family of Secrets reveals about the “very good, very private” lives and thoughts of George Bush, father and son, not brought to you by NBC or Comedy Central:
-Proof that the senior Bush, far from being the outsider CIA director in 1976 he claimed to be, had actually worked with the intelligence services in “very private” capacities for his entire adult life.
-Overwhelming and painstakingly documented evidence that the senior Bush lied when he claimed not to remember where he was on Nov. 22, 1963, the day JFK was shot, and that, in fact, he was in Dallas, working for the CIA, and closely associated with a small web of figures directly tied to Lee Harvey Oswald, the control of JFK’s motorcade, the Texas School Book Depository, and other crucial aspects of the events of that day.
-Source interviews and paperwork that show the junior Bush lied when he claimed to have completed his obligatory service during the Vietnam war, and that he was, in effect, AWOL, a crime with no statute of limitations.
-Documented assertions from a Bush family adviser suggesting that W. cynically adopted the mantle of Jesus to clean up a spotty past and to win over the crucial fundamentalist vote without which he would have lost badly in 2000.
-Evidence that the man the junior Bush put in charge of handling the domestic emergency response to attacks and natural disasters, Michael Brown, was even far less qualified than previously understood—and why such a person ended up being in that incredibly important position as Hurricane Katrina descended on the Gulf coast.
-Testimony that the junior Bush’s principal personal motivation for invading Iraq was not WMDs, or Al Qaeda, or neoconservative aspirations, or geopolitical goals, or even oil, but because he was convinced that a successful presidency requires a war.
-A body of facts strongly indicating that the same interests, working through the CIA, that removed JFK from power—a group that appears to have included the senior Bush—also took action to cause Richard Nixon to be removed from power. This is of urgent importance because it helps to provide some sense of why Barack Obama has continued to kowtow to major power centers—CIA, military, defense contractors, oil companies, Wall Street—because, simply put, he has absolutely no choice.
These are just a few of the literally hundreds of revelations that cast the Bushes—and the ongoing power configuration in this country—in a new and even more disturbing light. Yet viewers of Maddow, Olbermann, and for that matter, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and even Amy Goodman have never heard them. The publisher and a small legion of concerned citizens have tried repeatedly to get these programs to take an interest in the book’s extensively-documented and footnoted findings. But for whatever reason, the gatekeepers of the liberal media continue to ignore it. (Goodman taped an interview with me but never broadcast it.) The most common refrain was that by January 20, 2009, the Bushes and all they represented was “ancient history” and the shows were looking for new micro-skirmishes with more of a current feel.
The tragic thing is that without a big picture, we lack context on where we are as a country, and where we are going. In this vacuum the elder Bush is able to continue to be treated as a gracious statesman, and his son is busy rehabilitating his image. The rest of us remain largely in the dark on the who, the what, and the why of the world we inhabit.