Bernstein: Bush administration's disinformation, misinformation 'something I have never witnessed before on this scale'
Veteran reporter Carl Bernstein says the lack of truth and candor from the Bush administration is unprecedented in his experience.
Comparing the Nixon administration's press relations to those of Bush, Bernstein says, "Nixon's relationship to the press was consistent with his relationship to many institutions and people. He saw himself as a victim. We now understand the psyche of Richard Nixon, that his was a self-destructive act and presidency.
"The Bush administration," Bernstein continues, "is a far different matter in which disinformation, misinformation and unwillingness to tell the truth -- a willingness to lie both in the Oval Office, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, in the office of the vice president, the vice president himself -- is something that I have never witnessed before on this scale."
Bernstein contrasted Nixon's covering up of illegal activities tied to his re-election campaign with the Bush White House's "unwillingness to be truthful, both contextually and in terms of basic facts that ought to be of great concern to people of all ideologies.
"This president has a record of dishonesty and obfuscation that is Nixonian in character in its willingness to manipulate the press, to manipulate the truth," he adds. "We have gone to war on the basis of misinformation, disinformation and knowing lies from top to bottom."
Bernstein blasts what he describes as "the willingness of the president and the vice president and the people around them to try to undermine people who have effectively opposed them by telling the truth." He cites attacks on Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), former Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA) and even Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
"That's the real story, and that's the story that [the press] should have been writing," he says.
Bernstein, who gained fame with Bob Woodward for their breakthrough reporting on the Watergate scandal, was interviewed for a PBS Frontline series on the media. In an earlier interview reported on at RAW STORY, the famed journalist said the Bush administration had done "far greater damage" than Nixon.
Excerpts from an Editor and Publisher article with portions of the PBS interview follow...
It's very difficult, as a reporter, to get across that when you say, "This is a presidency of great dishonesty," that this is not a matter of opinion. This is demonstrable fact. If you go back and look at the president's statements, you look at the statements of the vice president, you look at the statements of Condoleezza Rice, you go through the record, you look at what [counterterrorism expert] Richard Clarke has written, you look at what we know -- it's demonstrable.
It's fact. Now, how do you quantify it? That's a different question.
But to me, if there is a great failure by the so-called mainstream press in this presidency, it's the unwillingness to look at the lies and disinformation and misinformation and add them up and say clearly, "Here's what they said; here's what the known facts were," because when that is done, you then see this isn't a partisan matter. This is a matter of the truth, particularly about this war. This is a presidency that is not willing to tell the truth very often if it is contrary to its interests. It's not about ideology from whence I say this.
It's about being a reporter and saying: "That's what the story is. Let's see what they said; let's see what the facts are." ...