Our liberal scribes and pundits savaged the Bush administration as being a privacy-shredding, terrorist-suspect-abusing tyranny on the march. Now that President Obama is in charge, they lamely suggest that "the government" has failed, but with no president's name attached in the blame game.
For years, the media insisted that the terrorist holding pen at Guantanamo was a horrific stain on our global reputation. It was a "cancer" (CBS's Bob Schieffer) and the networks uncritically aired Amnesty International quacks denouncing it as "the gulag of our time." Any denunciation had the words "Bush" and "Cheney" inexorably attached.
But now the outrage has died, and the story is being downplayed, since the Evil Bush is no longer the target. Take the case of Gitmo prisoner Ahmed Ghailani, who participated in the U.S. embassy massacre in Tanzania in 1998. When the federal judge crippled his trial in mid-October by omitting a witness, ABC and NBC skipped over it. "CBS Evening News" offered an anchor brief, with Couric calling it a "big setback for federal prosecutors." Nothing was attributed to the Obama administration.
On Nov. 17, when Ghailani was convicted on one count and acquitted on 284 others, Couric did call it "a major setback for the Obama administration." But by the next morning, CBS anchor Erica Hill was back to the generic: "The verdict is in for the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court, and it is being seen by some as a serious setback for the government."
NBC acted like this was barely news. "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams glossed over it for about 100 words: "There's a split verdict tonight in the case of the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to be tried in a civilian court, and it's being seen tonight as a message to the Justice Department that these Gitmo terrorism cases are going to be hard to prove."
A terrorist walks on 284 out of 285 charges and Brian Williams calls that a "split verdict."
The next morning, "Today" also disposed of the story in 40 seconds, but at least Ann Curry used the O-word: "The decision could undermine President Obama's plan to put other Guantanamo Bay detainees on trial in civilian courts."
ABC tossed off a few sentences on their evening newscast, with anchorman George Stephanopoulos admitting, "This is something of a setback for the Obama administration."