Glenn Greenwald currently has two long, exhaustively researched (Long? Exhaustive? Greenwald? Get out!) posts up at Salon detailing ABC News’ erroneous reporting that high-level government officials had linked Saddam Hussein to the anthrax attacks that occurred shortly after 9/11. I can’t add anything to Greenwald’s coverage of that issue, but I can recommend that you pour yourself a stiff drink, head over to Salon and bask in the horror.
But before you go I want to caution you against one thing: don’t go in there thinking that ABC/Disney is some sort of right-wing party organ like Fox News. The truth is a little bit more complex than that. Sure, they produced that miserable “Road to 9/11” picture, and syndicate some of the most vile, hate-filled demagogues on talk radio, but they also now offer gay wedding ceremonies at their theme parks and have been known to release the occasional children’s movie that at least pays lip service to the ideals of tolerance and respect.
Actually, the truth isn’t that complex – Disney can apparently contain these multitudes within itself because they honestly don’t give a damn one way or the other. I’ve had some (minimal) professional contact with them, and I can tell you that the marketing department reigns supreme in that organization. Supreme. Uncontested. With the possible exception of the copyright enforcement division. The numbers say it’s a good idea to let gay couples enjoy the Fairy Tale Wedding Package. OK, make it happen. The numbers also say it’s a good idea to employ radio on-air talent that fantasize on air about nuking millions of Indonesians? OK, make that happen. The numbers don’t lie. They also don’t give a shit.
Now, when your organization is dominated by its marketing department, your decision making process all but ossifies. Marketing data has to be gathered, analyzed, pondered, chewed, swallowed and digested and then the various departments have to decide how to best utilize that marketing data while making sure no one’s turf gets violated and no one’s ego gets bruised. Really, it gets to the point where the organization starts to admire the agility of a fully laden container ship.
I'd wager that he apparent rightward lurch we’re seeing at ABC/Disney now is the fruit of marketing strategy meetings that were held months ago, back when it was still good business to suck up to the Bush administration. I’m not saying this is why they ran with an apparently false story about a Saddam/anthrax connection but it definitely created an opening that “unnamed sources” could exploit. They’re probably just getting around to figuring out what their focus groups told them about the mid-term elections. It’ll be interesting to see what they’re reporting on six to eight months from now.