Following Salon’s passionate coverage of responses to the recent Scahill piece, and what it might portend…
Has anyone else at FDL read Poisoning the Press, Mark Feldstein’s fascinating pop history comparing Richard Nixon and his nemesis, D.C. Capitol commentator Jack Anderson?
I keep thinking about the current, claimed executive freedom to have people killed, off the books, without recourse to legal niceties, and it makes me recall the way Nixon – furious at Anderson’s scoops about his taking big contributions from rich guys like Howard Hughes and other underhanded illegalities – asked the CIA, seriously, to have Anderson killed.
It’s been a while since I read the book, but I believe they even discussed possible methods in the repertoire. If I recollect rightly, it included disgusting things like poisoning the pills he took every day, and tampering with his car.
To their credit, the CIA apparently felt spooked about knocking off members of the press, and suggested it might be unconstitutional.
Say what you like about the current occupant of the White House, I’m more concerned about precedents and the slippery slope, and another Nixon wannabe. I don’t know if most young people realize what that time, long ago now, was like, but I imagine had Nixon enjoyed the impunity, it might not have only been Anderson, but perhaps those more respected Washington journalist colleagues, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who picked up the scent cues he was leaving and followed them to Watergate.
Presidents – really anybody in power – including journalists remain people. Therefore fallible, subject to the human failings that beset us all. I’ve seen that with my own eyes, in my life. One can only try to live up to one’s highest views of a calling.
That said, I want to say thank-you to Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald. These are trying, dangerous times for journalists. Their bravery inspires.