Sad to say, but if you've wanted the news from America in the last few years, you've had to watch or read the foreign press. While the American press carps on and on about Obama's absent lapel pin and how they can't believe Hillary's a presidential frontrunner even though she doesn't pack a ding-ding, the BBC in particular is turning over the old-school rocks and finding the dirt behind the dirt.
Case in point: On Nov. 14, while the American Big Three were doing their umpteenth story on how high gas prices are going to go, the second story on BBC America's 10 p.m. newscast — after a report on widespread workers' strikes in France (“There's a country called France, and they're striking there? I refuse to believe it! Give me more drunken Lindsay Lohan!”) — was the revelation that Howard Krongard, the U.S. State Department's inspector general (the guy responsible for making sure the State Department stays ethical) basically perjured himself before Congress.
Krongard, testifying before a congressional panel investigating a September incident in which 14 Iraqi civilians were slaughtered by guards from the private security firm/mercenary group Blackwater, started his testimony by saying that he wanted to put to rest “ugly rumors” that his brother, Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard, is a paid member of Blackwater's advisory board.
After Democratic representatives produced evidence to that effect, Howard Krongard came back following a break with what the BBC called an “astounding revelation”: “I did contact my brother... I learned that he had been at the [Blackwater] advisory board meeting yesterday,” Krongard said. “I had not been aware of that and I want to state it on the record right now that I hereby recuse myself from any matters having to do with Blackwater.” No problem. And, by the way, let's just forget about that billion or so dollars we've already paid them while your brother was an employee. What's a few hundred million between friends?
While the blogs have exploded with the Krongard revelation — and the American press may have caught on by the time you read this — you probably didn't hear about that one on your network news that night. If you did, I'd bet the farm it wasn't the second story out of the gate. In short: BBC America — if you care about the news, get it soon. What you'll sacrifice in waterskiing squirrel stories will more than be made up for in hard-hitting journalism and true fair-and-balanced reporting.
n Speaking of underreported news, it's good to see that the national press is finally starting to peek under Mike Huckabee's oh-so-friendly petticoats. Since he entered the race, reporters and columnists have been swooning over Huckabee's backslapping, joking, man-of-the-people shtick, completely ignoring the back story: the scandals that plagued him during his time in the governor's office; his kook-grade thoughts on everything from Darwinism to gay rights to abortion; his prickliness when challenged by the press. Given that we remember when another good ole boy from Texas rode a herd of similarly charmed reporters all the way to the White House back in 2000, we were starting to get worried.
Rolling Stone magazine political columnist Matt Taibbi was the guy who finally did his homework on Huck, and the result (including quotes and insight from Arkansas Times editor Max Brantley) was a portrait much closer to the man we in Arkansas all knew and tolerated. The Times blog beat me to the inevitable quip, but Huckabee probably didn't buy five copies for his mother.
Released on Nov. 14, Taibbi's article admits that Huckabee has a shot at the White House, calling him a great speaker and spotlighting his potent mix of Christian rhetoric and anti-fat-cat populism. “Huckabee is also something else,” Taibbi writes, “full-blown nuts, a Christian goofball of the highest order. He believes the Earth may be only 6,000 years old, angrily rejects the evidence that human beings evolved from ‘primates' and thinks America wouldn't need so much Mexican labor if we allowed every aborted fetus to grow up and enter the workforce. To top it off, Huckabee also left behind a record of ethical missteps in the swamp of Arkansas politics that make Whitewater seem like a jaywalking ticket.”
Yikes. Friends, you just can't buy a political kick in the crotch like that. Even better is when Taibbi goes into detail on Huckabee's record, bringing up the facts that most any Arkie reporter can recite word for word: Huck's lust for freebies, his penchant for Bushlike secrecy, his crybaby fits when things don't go his way, and more.
Describing the ensuing Huckabeatdown just doesn't do Taibbi's article justice. Get online, find a search engine, and type in “Rolling Stone” and “Huckabee.” You'll find it right quick.