[Marxism] Chris Hedges on Tim Russert

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jun 24 06:23:43 MDT 2008

(Interesting to see the evolution of Chris Hedges to the left. Back in 
the late 1980s, he was a NY Times correspondent in Latin America not so 
nearly as bad as Shirley Christian but nowhere near as good as Raymond 

The Hedonists of Power
Posted on Jun 23, 2008

By Chris Hedges

Washington has become Versailles. We are ruled, entertained and informed 
by courtiers. The popular media are courtiers. The Democrats, like the 
Republicans, are courtiers. Our pundits and experts are courtiers. We 
are captivated by the hollow stagecraft of political theater as we are 
ruthlessly stripped of power. It is smoke and mirrors, tricks and con 
games. We are being had.

The past week was a good one if you were a courtier. We were instructed 
by the high priests on television over the past few days to mourn a 
Sunday morning talk show host, who made $5 million a year and who gave a 
platform to the powerful and the famous so they could spin, equivocate 
and lie to the nation. We were repeatedly told by these television 
courtiers, people like Tom Brokaw and Wolf Blitzer, that this talk show 
host was one of our nation’s greatest journalists, as if sitting in a 
studio, putting on makeup and chatting with Dick Cheney or George W. 
Bush have much to do with journalism.

No journalist makes $5 million a year. No journalist has a comfortable, 
cozy relationship with the powerful. No journalist believes that acting 
as a conduit, or a stenographer, for the powerful is a primary part of 
his or her calling. Those in power fear and dislike real journalists. 
Ask Seymour Hersh and Amy Goodman how often Bush or Cheney has invited 
them to dinner at the White House or offered them an interview.

All governments lie, as I.F. Stone pointed out, and it is the job of the 
journalist to do the hard, tedious reporting to shine a light on these 
lies. It is the job of courtiers, those on television playing the role 
of journalists, to feed off the scraps tossed to them by the powerful 
and never question the system. In the slang of the profession, these 
television courtiers are “throats.” These courtiers, including the late 
Tim Russert, never gave a voice to credible critics in the buildup to 
the war against Iraq. They were too busy playing their roles as 
red-blooded American patriots. They never fought back in their public 
forums against the steady erosion of our civil liberties and the 
trashing of our Constitution. These courtiers blindly accept the 
administration’s current propaganda to justify an attack on Iran. They 
parrot this propaganda. They dare not defy the corporate state. The 
corporations that employ them make them famous and rich. It is their 
Faustian pact. No class of courtiers, from the eunuchs behind Manchus in 
the 19th century to the Baghdad caliphs of the Abbasid caliphate, has 
ever transformed itself into a responsible elite. Courtiers are 
hedonists of power.

Our Versailles was busy this past week. The Democrats passed the FISA 
bill, which provides immunity for the telecoms that cooperated with the 
National Security Agency’s illegal surveillance over the past six years. 
This bill, which when signed means we will never know the extent of the 
Bush White House’s violation of our civil liberties, is expected to be 
adopted by the Senate. Barack Obama has promised to sign it in the name 
of national security. The bill gives the U.S. government a license to 
eavesdrop on our phone calls and e-mails. It demolishes our right to 
privacy. It endangers the work of journalists, human rights workers, 
crusading lawyers and whistle-blowers who attempt to expose abuses the 
government seeks to hide. These private communications can be stored 
indefinitely and disseminated, not just to the U.S. government but to 
other governments as well. The bill, once signed into law, will make it 
possible for those in power to identify and silence anyone who dares to 
make public information that defies the official narrative.

Being a courtier, and Obama is one of the best, requires agility and 
eloquence. The most talented of them can be lauded as persuasive actors. 
They entertain us. They make us feel good. They convince us they are our 
friends. We would like to have dinner with them. They are the smiley 
faces of a corporate state that has hijacked the government and is 
raping the nation. When the corporations make their iron demands, these 
courtiers drop to their knees, whether to placate the telecommunications 
companies that fund their campaigns and want to be protected from 
lawsuits, or to permit oil and gas companies to rake in obscene profits 
and keep in place the vast subsidies of corporate welfare doled out by 
the state.

We cannot differentiate between illusion and reality. We trust courtiers 
wearing face powder who deceive us in the name of journalism. We trust 
courtiers in our political parties who promise to fight for our 
interests and then pass bill after bill to further corporate fraud and 
abuse. We confuse how we feel about courtiers like Obama and Russert 
with real information, facts and knowledge. We chant in unison with 
Obama that we want change, we yell “yes we can,” and then stand dumbly 
by as he coldly votes away our civil liberties. The Democratic Party, 
including Obama, continues to fund the war. It refuses to impeach Bush 
and Cheney. It allows the government to spy on us without warrants or 
cause. And then it tells us it is our salvation. This is a form of 
collective domestic abuse. And, as so often happens in the weird 
pathology of victim and victimizer, we keep coming back for more.

Chris Hedges, who was a Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for 
The New York Times, says he will vote for Ralph Nader for president.

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