If Famous Journalists Became Honest Rappers
The "Bulworth" movie -- with Warren Beatty playing a senator who begins to speak disturbing truths in the form of rap lyrics -- caused quite a stir when it came out five years ago. At the time, I wondered aloud in a column about what might happen if leading journalists followed that fictional example.
I'm biased, but it seems to me that some of my lyrics have stood the test of time. For instance:
DAN RATHER: "I like to tell the public how it pains me so -- to be more superficial and keep racking up the dough."
COKIE ROBERTS: "Born and bred in the pundit patch, I utter easy notions with great dispatch. Every spectrum has a center, every player has a price. If you want to stick my neck out, I have to say no dice."
BRIT HUME: "I love to tell you all the news on Fox TV. My boss man Rupert Murdoch is cool as he can be. He pays me piles of money for tilting to the right. And if you sound progressive, you'll really get a fight."
MARK SHIELDS, AL HUNT, ROBERT NOVAK and MARGARET CARLSON: "We're on the show each week, but the jokes are not so funny. CNN dubbed us 'The Capital Gang' -- but that name refers to money."
JOHN STOSSEL: "As an ABC reporter, I've got lots of clout. Greed is full of virtues, I have no doubt. Evangelist for deregulation, that's my calling -- I laugh when all those losers scream and then start bawling."
TOM BROKAW: "I can tell a story real quick. Gets so simplistic it might make you sick. On the tube, footage trumps a thousand words. General Electric owns NBC, and I'm running with the herds."
TED KOPPEL: "Reporting from Washington for ABC News, I surely know that even power brokers get the blues. I am proud to call Henry Kissinger my friend. We like the Ten Commandments, but number six we must amend."
GEORGE WILL: "To this deplorable level I will not descend. To be so rhythmic while a rhymester -- may heaven forfend! We are elite guardians of fine European values. How dare people drag us down pathological avenues?"
But I don't want to rest on my media hip-hop laurels. So, here are new rap lyrics for some journalistic stars of 2003:
JUDITH MILLER: "You could call me a reporter who's an angel of death -- and I do bear grim resemblance to Lady MacBeth. The New York Times let me spin 'bout WMDs. Got lots of front-page ink, Iraq is on its knees."
BILL O'REILLY: "I huff and I puff and I blow my guests away. I control the microphones, who cares what they say?"
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: "I sure respect the Arabs, they could become like us. The peace process need not be such a bloody fuss. Global trade is the key to make our planet well; let's globalize the corporate state -- in heaven we can dwell."
But why just focus on individuals when the most significant media "rappers" are institutions? For example:
FOX NEWS: "They call us conservative, and that's kinda funny. What we believe in most is our power and our money."
MSNBC: "How craven can we get? Well let's find out! If we can sink lower, then kindly give a shout. Star-spangled pander is our latest gambit. We found the flame of right-wing junk, and now we're gonna fan it."
USA TODAY: "We're in a world of color, with lots to see and buy. Sweet brevity helps us keep Gannett profits high."
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: "Schizoid to a fault, that's what makes us tacky -- news coverage fine, editorials wacky."
NPR NEWS: "Our stories are getting shorter and shorter, to the despair of many a reporter. And all that spin from Washington can be kind of rough, especially surrounded by so much (bleep) fluff."
Norman Solomon is co-author of "Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You."