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Uncurious Media

Citations describing the media as uncurious about George Bush, his administration, and the outrageous activities before, during, and after election day 2000, that created the Bush usurpistration.

We were not looking for these citations. They were discovered by accident while looking for citations on George W. Bush. If we had looked for citations of uncurious media, we might have found as many as we found for uncurious George Bush.

The Columbia Journalism Review story Failures of Imagination (October 2006) covers the issue of media uncuriosity about Bush administration incompetence and malfeasance, especially vis-a-vis the Iraq war, so thoroughly that uncuriousgeorge.org has elected to feature it in a special page.

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malayas blog » Blog Archive » Stream Journeys With George Movie Online
Movie review: Journeys With George
posted on Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 11:07 pm

One of the most noticeable features is the absence of considerable accurate journalism being practiced by the press pool. The closest we net to that is the slow revelation of Bush’s DUI, and we peruse Karen Hughes skillfully handling that. She is rarely in the film, but comes across as impressive, especially vis-a-vis Rove’s pomposity. But in actuality, the press pool spent most of the time going through the motions, messing around, and being bored in an extended tour. I judge a lack of curiosity became their most prevalent trait.


Zone of Twilight: A Muddled Mess
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Posted by Chris at 10:18 AM

There are a couple of interesting nuggets, if for nothing more than to demonstrate [National Journal's Rafael] Valero's lack of curiosity to scratch deeper than the surface. First, Valero claims that the president vetoed the first bill back in December because of these problematic oversight provisions and not because of the complaints from the Iraqi government.


All Spin Zone » Heads Exploding in the MSM
Commentary By: Steven Reynolds
Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

But, barring Will Bunch, both blogger and mainstream media writer, I’ve yet to see a mainstream media type come and seek us out. These folks seem, from the perspective of those of us here in the left blogzome, as frightfully incurious. And incuriousness, if that isn’t too awkward a word, is about the last thing you want in a pundit, no?

I’m going to take the usual argument here, I suppose. The mainstream media is too entrenched in the halls of power. For them, even the wild irresponsibility and incompetence of the Bush era has been a mere blip, and because of their incuriousness, they’ve been enablers of this last eight years. Enablers even to the use of torture? Well, when the issue does not spark sputtering outrage on the part of pundits in the mainstream media. One imagines they get worked up far more about whether the topic of “torture” deserves more airtime than the topic of John Edwards’ hair. I suppose that isn’t incuriousness, but a mindset completely wrapped up in the business of news, instead of the reality of news.

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Rudy | The New York Observer
by Chris Lehmann
September 25, 2007
This article was published in the October 1, 2007, edition of The New York Observer

All this high-symbolic flailing does at least two things. It distracts voters’ attention from the Republican top tier’s inability to offer any sound alternative to the Bush White House’s disastrous prosecution of the Iraq war. And it neatly leverages the media’s lack of curiosity about policy and genuine ideological debate into dreary who-did-what-when anatomies of gaffes and flubbed pandering opportunities that is to political analysis what plane-spotting is to high-energy physics.

Legal Schnauzer: Curiosity and Teflon Bob
Monday, August 20, 2007

Scott Horton, of Harper's, has described the Alabama press as "incurious" when it comes to matters regarding the issue of selective prosecution and the Bush Department of Justice (DOJ).

When we let conspiracy theory masquerade as news, we fall prey to much more than deception | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Columnists: Rod Dreher
02:08 PM CDT on Sunday, June 24, 2007
Rod Dreher is a Dallas Morning News editorial columnist. His e-mail address is rdreher@dallasnews.com.
An excellent essay on the pervasivity of incuriosity, gullibility, and the spread of rumor in the Muslim world and everywhere. Also appeared in the Gulf Times (Qatar) June 28 as Conspiracy Theory.

Truth to tell, I've met more than a few journalists who were quite as self-satisfied and incurious about their own sacred cows. Indeed, I was that journalist myself for a while, on the very issue that brought me into conflict with that reader: the Iraq war.

The Fifth Estate: God, Guns and Garda World
Thursday, May 31, 2007

The press is in no position to run around Sadr City to scare-up any leads, so until ransom demands are made or a raid occurs or some bodies start showing up and with officials offering little in the way of information, the press seems to think there is nothing else to report.

What a very incurious bunch the press seems to be these days!

There’s the fact that Bush’s “surge” doesn’t and can’t address the fundamental security issue of the infiltration of Iraqi organizations by locals working in opposition to the “coalition” and the “official” Iraqi “government” but I guess that’s so obvious it’s not worth mentioning.

The Canberra Times [Australia]
24 May 2007
Gore book launch overrun by big campaign question
Daisy Nguyen
Prompted by Al Gore's new book The Assault on Reason. Another excerpt from this article is listed under Dishonorable Mentions.

During Tuesday's hour-long talk, Mr Gore said despite a lack of evidence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, both Congress and the media largely had not questioned the Bush Administration. . . .

"If there is a determined incuriosity, what that tells me is there is a belief that the way our country operates now, that there wasn't much fear on his part that he be held accountable by the news media or by the people or by Congress for not paying attention," Mr Gore said.

Dissident Voice : Bush: America, Our Own Worst Enemy
by Mark Drolette / May 10th, 2007
This piece is satirical, not serious

In light of this startling revelation, reaction from the White House press corps, a body widely perceived to be strangely incurious and timidly subservient to the Bush administration (accusations rejected by many of its members as “completely unwarranted”), was swift and vigorous. Almost in unison, they asked:

“When’s lunch?”

Opinion | Congress supports the troops by standing up to Bush | Seattle Times Newspaper
Monday, April 30, 2007
Rhonda Chriss Lokeman / Syndicated columnist
Rhonda Chriss Lokeman is a columnist for the Kansas City Star. E-mail her at lokeman@kcstar.com

[Pfc. Jessica] Lynch said the government, aided by incurious media, told about "the little girl Rambo from the hills who went down fighting." She said she never fired a shot before she was struck by enemy fire.

Hughes for America: Beltway Derangement Syndrome
04/24/2007 at 03:30 PM
Also appeared April 25 at TPMCafe.

In as concise a definition as possible, Beltway Derangement Syndrome can be defined as the disregard for reality - either creeping or acute - that can grip those whose job it is to report on and/or discuss national politics, most often from Washington. Its causes are myriad, ranging from laziness to intellectual incuriosity to partisanship to the trading of integrity for access. As I mentioned earlier, BDS has a potentially lethal counterpart, Secondhand BDS. This malady can, if we let it, grip us, those who, in the course of their political activism, consume political media, ranging from Washington Post editorials to Joe Klein columns to "Hardball" to FOX News, for example. In other words, Secondhand BDS represents the blurred sense reality brought on by over-reliance on and overdose of Beltway "conventional wisdom".

BDS is a manifestation of a systemic problem, one starting as far back as our nation's journalism schools. There, I saw firsthand how a climate of incuriosity bred a culture of mediocrity.

War buildup: anatomy of a press disaster | M. Charles Bakst | Rhode Island news | projo.com | The Providence Journal
01:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, April 24, 2007
M. Charles Bakst is The Journal’s political columnist.

Make your students watch Bill Moyers Journal: Buying the War, a 90-minute documentary on the culpability of the news media in the Bush administration’s run-up to Iraq.

. . . Dan Rather tells Moyers, “I don’t think there is any excuse for, you know, my performance and the performance of the press in general in the roll up to the war. There were exceptions. There were some people, who, I think, did a better job than others. But overall and in the main there’s no question that we didn’t do a good job.”

Moyers explores several reasons, notably an excessive or misguided sense of patriotism, a reluctance to break with the pack and be proven wrong, and a lack of curiosity or energy needed for digging out mid-level sources who could expose the party line.

Out of My Mind: Why We Love the Mainstream Media's Journalism: A Timeline of How They Got it Wrong
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Posted by The Seditionist at 4:28 AM
A long list of media excerps from September 1, 2002, to May 31, 2003, on the purported justifications for the Iraq war and the facts behind them. Much more available than excerpted here. Also posted as the new citizenship project: Iraq and the media.

September 7, 2002
—Speaking of the need to disarm Iraq, George W. Bush refers to a report by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) alleging that Iraq was six months away from developing a nuclear weapon. No such report exists, as MSNBC reports on its website (oddly, the article was quickly removed from MSNBC's website, as Paul Krugman would note months later—4/29/03). Bush's lie mostly escapes media scrutiny; as John MacArthur recalled months later (Columbia Journalism Review, 5/603), the Washington Post half-heartedly acknowledged the problem deep in a story:

In the twenty-first paragraph of her story on the press conference, the Washington Post's Karen DeYoung did quote an IAEA spokesman saying, in DeYoung's words, "that the agency has issued no new report," but she didn't confront the White House with this terribly interesting fact.

September 18, 2002
—Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appears on the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and makes two false claims: that Iraq kicked out weapons inspectors in 1998, and that Iraq was preparing to invade Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. Rumsfeld's deceptions were not challenged by host Jim Lehrer. A FAIR Action Alert (9/20/02) points out the errors.

September 19, 2002
—The Washington Post publishes an article on page 18 headlined, "Evidence on Iraq Challenged; Experts Question if Tubes Were Meant for Weapons Program."  . . . the Post's debunking is mostly ignored.

September 27, 2002
—Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! reports that Senate offices are receiving an "overwhelming" level of calls from constituents opposing a war on Iraq. The show finds 22 of 26 offices that responded reported overwhelmingly critical calls. The media's indifference to such public concern would also be documented in FAIR's Extra! (1–2/03) . . .

September 29, 2002
—A September 28 anti-war rally in London attracts hundreds of thousands of protestors, but merits a one-sentence mention in the New York Times in a story headlined "Blair Is Confident of Tough U.N. Line on Iraqi Weapons." . . .

—Washington Post ombud Michael Getler criticizes the paper for ignoring a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in which three former four-star generals warned of the dire ramifications of war and advocated for "determined diplomacy." Getler notes the paper failed to mention these proceedings. . . .

October 7, 2002
—As noted in a FAIR Action Alert (10/10/02), CNN host Connie Chung takes Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Ca.) to task for expressing doubts about claims made by George W. Bush about Iraq's weapons. At one point Chung interrupts Thompson to say, "You mean you don't believe what President Bush just said? With all due respect....you know... I mean, what..." Chung adds: "So it sounds almost as if you're asking the American public, 'Believe Saddam Hussein, don't believe President Bush.'"

October 16, 2002
—Progressive magazine editor Matt Rothschild writes on the magazine's website:
By and large, the mainstream media are blowing a big story, and that story is the outpouring of mass protests against Bush's impending Iraq war. It's an outpouring in Europe, and in the United States, and we haven't heard much about it.

April 4, 2003
While U.S. media remained uncurious, on March 30, Robert Fisk reported in the London Independent that what appeared to be a missile fragment was found at the scene of the explosion. In a follow-up report on April 2, the Independent's Cahal Milmo reported that the serial number could be traced back to the Raytheon Corporation, and that the weapon was "thought to be either a HARM anti-radar missile or a Paveway laser-guided bomb." As FAIR noted, the Independent's reporting would go mostly unmentioned in U.S. media.

These are just a few of the many examples in this article of media incuriosity during and after the run-up to the war in Iraq.Read the whole article.

Greetings From Pennsylvania! Out of the blue...state: Define Victory
Monday, March 19, 2007

The American people are told that "we" are close to victory. Just allow the escalation to take effect. Why reporters have readily accepted the term "surge", I am not clear. But it does show a pattern of journalistic acquiescence - or at least a lack of curiosity. Give them something to write, and they will write it.

What would be journalistic would be to begin to ask questions, rather, to be a journalist and not a stenographer. The first question that has never been asked of the administration by the press is, "Define victory."

Canary in the Coalmine: Uncurious
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Posted by Dave at 9:48 PM
Also cited in Dishonorable Mentions.

The uncurious press has given Uncurious George a pass for the last six years. Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post suggests some questions: [read them!]

Monday, February 12, 2007
posted by Sheila Samples @ 9:29 AM
Also posted to OpEdNews.com. Also cited at Uncurious Media.

If the Bush administration and the US mainstream media are united on any one issue, it's an absolute refusal to rock the political boat as they sail mercilessly through the seas of corporate profit on the good ship Terrorbush. For the most part, each group is an incurious lot -- undead creatures who neither care, nor dare, to glance over the side of the ship at the bloated, swirling bodies in the blood-red water below.

Vallejo Times Herald - Debate impeachment
Vallejo (Calif.) Times-Herald
Letters to the Editor

The war in Iraq is evidence that complacency in the media can cause untold damage to our world. Please do not allow the impeachment debate to also be mired in fallacies that through repetition become truth because of a uncurious mindset.

Diana Peterlin, Santa Rosa [California]


Friday, December 22, 2006
Writers who got Iraq right, Episode #1

Despite generally terrible, incurious media coverage before the war--for which many media outlets belatedly apologized--there were also several pundits, columnists and authors who were right about the war before it began.

Left In Lowell » Blog Archive » BtP Mea Culpa (Mostly) Works
December 15, 2006
by Lynne at 7:53 pm

You see, I was pretty certain that there were no WMDs or ties to Al Quada since before the first bombs dropped in shock, and awe. But the media, why...they were completely incurious. How did we (bloggers, since that’s where I was reading the truth about Iraq) know the truth but the media didn’t? That’s the core unasked question underlying much of the fervor over this last week. We are tired of seeing this same old drumbeat of assumptions and fitting situations into lazy storylines.

It’s the same incuriousness displayed last week in the BtP blogging story that got us into Iraq. The media failed us, and it failed us over and over after that, and it’s been slowly falling further and faster into irrelevance and oblivion.

News Hounds: Donald Rumsfeld Tells Sean Hannity In Iraq, “Mission Accomplishing” — Or Maybe Not
Reported by Ellen - December 12, 2006

As often happens when he is in the presence of a Bush administration official, bullyboy Hannity was transformed into a lapdog — and a remarkably incurious one at that.

TPMmuckraker December 11, 2006 04:02 PM
AP's John Solomon: The Story So Far
By Paul Kiel - December 11, 2006, 4:02 PM

And just to drive home Solomon's rep as an "easy mark" for stories, earlier this month the award-winning investigator wrote an oddly incurious article about the White House's privacy oversight panel and how it had satisfied itself that the NSA was protecting Americans' constitutional rights, even as the rest of the world lambasted the do-nothing board.

The Cincinnati Post - End war sooner to save lives
Column by Nick Clooney
December 8, 2006

. . . I was skeptical of the motivation for the war in the fall of 2002, questioned the administration's reading of thin evidence, questioned Colin Powell's presentation before the U.N., questioned news outlets' lack of curiosity, all in this corner and in print before we launched our pre-emptive bloodshed in March of 2003.

PoliScope: The best of what's around?
Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Washingtonian might just be nothing more than the People magazine for our region's upscale, well-educated white professionals who are simply too sophisticated to feign interest in Brittany Spears's marital woes or the latest hijinks of Paris Hilton and her entourage. But it does offer an insight into how the professional political-law-media complex here views itself -- self-important, increasingly money-driven, insular, elitist, entitled, intellectually incurious and bound to a peculiar conventional wisdom that confuses social status with smarts.

Helen Thomas: Asking Bush the Tough Questions
by Ann McFeatters, Ms. Magazine. Posted October 9, 2006.

She [Helen Thomas] remains as feisty and fearless as ever. In her new book, Watchdogs of Democracy? The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public (Scribner), she takes her colleagues to task for not asking the sort of tough questions she does . "I honestly believe," she writes, "that if reporters had put the spotlight on the flaws in the Bush administration's war policies, they could have saved the country the heartache and the losses of American and Iraqi lives." . . .

Not a chance. In her new book -- which excoriates the press corps as docile and incurious -- she argues that reporters never pushed hard enough on administration plans for post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Arts & Entertainment
Telling the truth? That's so last century
CURRENT AFFAIRS: Book indicts a culture of spin that's spun out of control
12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, September 24, 2006
By PHILIP SEIB / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
Philip Seib is the Lucius W. Nieman Professor of Journalism at Marquette University and author of Beyond the Front Lines: How the News Media Cover a World Shaped by War.
The Greatest Story Ever Sold
Frank Rich (Penguin, $25.95)

The public is incurious, mainstream journalists engage in only "sporadic digging into the war-ennobled administration" and the Democrats are consistently "ineffectual and timid." . . .

Mr. Rich laments that few journalists had the foresight or courage displayed by Bob Schieffer of CBS, who in late 2003 said, "If this is winning, you have to ask the question: How much of this winning can we stand?"

village voice > news > Liberty Beat by Nat Hentoff
Arlen Specter's Sellout
Senate Judiciary Committee chair intent on rescuing Bush from felony charges
September 1st, 2006

Meanwhile, there is a surprising lack of curiosity in most of the press about the federal judge [Anna Diggs Taylor] who placed these felony charges [in an Augusr 17, 2006, ruling in American Civil Liberties Union, et al. v. National Security Agency] directly on George W. Bush. Who is she? Did you know, for instance, that she arrived in Mississippi on the day civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner disappeared—and that she went to the Neshoba County Courthouse to find out from the dread sheriff Lawrence Rainey Jr. what happened to them. (The sheriff, later allegedly implicated in their murders was—not surprisingly in Mississippi at the time—acquitted.)

The Cheney presidency - The Boston Globe
By Robert Kuttner  |  August 26, 2006
Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column appears regularly in the Globe.

So secretive is Cheney (and so incurious the media) that when his chief of staff, Irving Lewis Libby, was implicated in the leaked identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, reporters who rushed to look Libby up on Nexis and Google found that Libby had barely rated previous press attention.

Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque - High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium - The Fifty-Percent Solution: Catastrophe by the Numbers
Monday, 07 August 2006
Also appears at under Dishonorable Mentions.

All of them --- Bush, Rice, Hoekstra, Santorum, the warmongering nabobs at Fox News – know they are peddling lies. The truth is too glaringly obvious to ignore, even for a pathologically incurious, spoon-fed twit like Bush. But they don't care.

President Has a Smooth Ride on 'Larry King Live' - New York Times
The TV Watch
Published: July 7, 2006
Here, the author is saying that jounalist Larry King feigns incuriousity as a ploy to get his guests to reveal more. Also appeared in the Taipei Times July 8 as Larry King puts on the kid gloves for Bush interview.

Even when he ventured into areas like the war in Iraq, public opinion polls or the president's past friendship with Mr. Lay, Mr. King looked less like an interrogator than a hotel concierge gently removing lint from a customer's coat. Mr. King's questions rarely rile his guests; instead, his cozy, incurious style encourages them to expose themselves.

John Derbyshire on June Diary on National Review Online
July 5, 2006 6:30 AM
Gone, but Not Forgotten
This piece is also cited under Dishonorable mentions with other exerpts. Here, we have not an article discussing uncurious media; instead we have a profoundly uncurikous media pundit making ludicrously uncurious comments about George W. Bush.

. . . his Christianity is deep and sincere. [Christ said to feed the hungry, heal the sick, and clothe the naked. Christ would never lie about WMD in order to start a war. Bush's performance in the Schiavo case was transparent insincere pandering to his pseudo-Christian base.] . . . The economy’s doing well, and has been for all this past five and a half years. I’m doing well, and so are my neighbors. [The author infers from the prosperity of himself and his neighbors that the economy is doing well; a ridiculously uncurious way to assess America; he ignores the stagnation of the bottom 90% and the growing insecurity of many employees who dread the outsourcing of their jobs.] . . . nearly five years after 9/11, we haven’t lost another 3,000 people in another terrorist attack. [But we've lost nearly that many Americans in Iraq, and we have inflicted on Iraq a situation with approximately that many violent deaths every single month!]

American Politics Journal — Pundit Pap
for Sunday, May 7, 2006
FOX News [sic] Sunday
by Leah

The always incurious Mara [Liasson of NPR] stuck to the approved facts, noting that [resigning CIA Director Porter] Goss was given a contradictory mandate—to raise morale, even while he was purging the agency.

The Blog | William E. Jackson Jr.: Why Bill Keller Cannot 'Move On' From the Miller/Libby Scandal | The Huffington Post
April 18, 2006
Criticizing the New York Times for uncurious reporting about WMD, and then the executive editor for uncuriosity about that reporting disaster-scandal. Reprinted in Yahoo News April 19, 2006.

In responding ("Talk to the Newsroom") to continuing critical queries about Miller's sensational but incurious reporting on the quest for WMD in Iraq -- relying upon Chalabi and high-up neo-con leakers from within the Administration -- and the checkered coverage of the Plame-Libby legal case, [New York Times Executive Editor Bill] Keller "sighs" and plaintively asks what more could an executive editor have done? Quote: "I can't imagine that there is anything to say about the Judy Miller episode that I have not already said...over and over." Over and over, indeed, with little variation and scant imagination.

The American Thinker
Pressing News
Clarice Feldman   4 15 06

It is obvious to me that the New York Times was the source of the information about the subpoenas directed to it, and yet they saw fit to reveal the names of only two persons—George Tenet and Ari Fleischer—where documentation was being sought. Who are the other mysteriously undisclosed contacts they are not revealing? Why has the paper been so selective about what is being sought? And why has the rest of the press which has consistently demanded full accounting of the White House for every jot and tittle of their statements been so incurious about the Times['] very selective disclosure?

How opinion journalism could change the face of the news. - By Michael Kinsley - Slate Magazine
Posted Friday, March 31, 2006, at 6:08 AM ET

Journalists who claim to have developed no opinions about what they cover are either lying or deeply incurious and unreflective about the world around them.

The Blog | Michelle Pilecki: Media Skip Follow-Up on White House/Abramoff Connections | The Huffington Post
Eat The Press

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that White House spokesman "Scott McClellan ... would not say with whom former lobbyist Jack Abramoff met, which interests he was representing or how he got access to the White House," and that's the end of the story? CJR Daily, among others, notes the curious lack of curiosity among so many news outlets. . . .

But as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman notes, "It's interesting, though, that Scott McClellan has announced that the White House, contrary to earlier promises, won't provide any specific information about contacts between Mr. Abramoff and staff members.

So I have a question for my colleagues in the news media: Why isn't the decision by the White House to stonewall on the largest corruption scandal since Warren Harding considered major news?

Gergen: Supreme court will be Bush’s legacy
Friday, January 20, 2006
Also listed under Dishonorable Mentions.

Gergen chided the media for being “cheerleaders” at the war’s beginning, rather than asking tough questions.

CONTEXT - This Week in Arts and Ideas from The Moscow Times
Global Eye
Gag Reflex
By Chris Floyd
Published: January 13, 2006
An expanded version of the article appears the same day on the author's site.

This week's revelation of how U.S. doctors are force-feeding captives on hunger strike in Bush's concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay still has the power to shock and sicken -- not just from the savage act itself, but also for the wider moral defeat it represents: another open embrace of raw brutality, another step in America's accelerating plunge into vicious despotism.

News of the hunger strike has been trickling out from the ever-incurious U.S. media for months.

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