Don't Believe the Hype; Corporate Media are Trying Their Damnedest to Politicize Torture

News that President Obama is open to having an independent commission investigate the use of torture during the Bush years is undoubtedly the story of the day, with implications extending back to the previous administration and far into the future.


In the aftermath of the president's statement, however, the preponderance of attention has been spent on political minutia as opposed to the policy details. The media, in particular, has focused almost exclusively on two specific angles: had Obama cowered to those liberal proponents of prosecuting Bush officials, and had he contradicted his own administration in expressing openness in doing so?

In the process, the issue of launching an investigation -- which would have to be bipartisan in nature for Obama to support it -- was reduced into an overtly partisan and cynical frame. Issues of justice and morality boiled down into "the left's" influence compared to "the right."

The mood was set even before White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs came to the podium to talk about the president's remarks. "There does seem to be a little bit of a reaction to how this was received on the left," said Chuck Todd, White House correspondent for NBC. "Frankly this feels like a political food fight now. Vice President Cheney on one side, President Obama on the other. The hard left, the hard right, fighting over this in the blogosphere. When he talks about - he fears the politicization - that may be too late."

It was continued well into the briefing, where MoveOn.org and two Democratic Senators were trotted out as suspected catalysts for Obama's willingness to investigate.

"What changed over the last 24 hours?" asked CNN's Ed Henry. "Because yesterday you were flat in saying that we're not going there, as Rahm was on Sunday. And in the last 24 hours we've seen groups like MoveOn.org on the left come out and write a petition to the Attorney General saying they want accountability from the Bush administration. Is this an example of this White House giving in to pressure from the left?"

"I don't -- I have not, and I doubt the President has been on moveon.org in the last 24 hours, so, no," responded Gibbs.

Later, another reporter asked whether comments by Sens. Diane Feinstein and Russ Feingold pushing backs on Emanuel's statement "have some influence on what the president said today?"

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