Remember Tass, the state news agency for the former Soviet Union? I was thinking of it as I watched PBS on Friday. Two commentators, David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, respectively with the New York Times and the Washington Post, covered the leading news items of the week. Of course, there was nothing said about the colossal war budget passed by the House ($778 billion, which is actually an undercount); there was nothing said about the continued persecution of Julian Assange by the U.S. government; and indeed there was nothing said about the sham democracy summit overseen by Joe Biden.
The topics covered were Bob Dole’s death and the good old days of compromise in Washington, a general condemnation of Trump and polarization, and some concern about inflation, which was dismissed as evidence of an expanding economy.
PBS used to be a halfway decent news source; now it relies far too heavily on corporate funding and is afraid of losing its government funding as well. So it’s become a state propaganda network, much like Tass was in the USSR.
With respect to the commentators, David Brooks is the reasonable Republican who speaks calmly about achieving incremental change through the system; Jonathan Capehart is the reasonable Democrat who also speaks calmly about pretty much the same; he adds “diversity” in the sense he’s Black and gay, yet his political views vary little from those of Brooks. Mark Shields, the previous voice opposite Brooks, was occasionally somewhat outspoken and even mentioned unions and workers; he’d worked for Senator William Proxmire and had enlisted in the U.S. Marines. I always sensed Shields hadn’t forgotten his roots, but of course he’s now 84 years old and semi-retired.
The previous week, I listened to Capehart as he talked about the Supreme Court and abortion. He seemed most concerned about the potential for a conservative court to overturn the legitimacy of gay marriage. I understand the personal angle, but I was hoping for a stronger statement in favor of a women’s right to choose — to control her own body and her own life.
To be honest, I don’t watch mainstream media reports that often, but when I do, it’s all so saddening and maddening.