The past fired back Monday with two barrels.
Margaret Thatcher’s death at age 87 ushered in a non-stop sycophantic display of adulation across all the television networks, that, we need to recall, used the same playbook when her ideological kith and kin, Ronald Reagan, also suffering from dementia, departed this mortal coil.
Then, there was a six-day televised praise poem between his death and what amounted to a state funeral with an unending orgy of uncritical commentary, as if the media had fallen down the amnesia hole and forgotten that the great communicator was not that good a communicator and often an embarrassment, not to mention a political fraud.
Now it’s Maggie’s turn, with acres of soundbites stressing that “we should never forget” how tough the “Iron Lady” was. Baroness “Lady Thatcher” was spoken of reverentially as royalty by the high and mighty who treated her as a divine figure.
In life her role was debated; in death, she was consecrated as a goddess. Such is the power of celebrity. Once you have it, you never lose it.
All of the controversy and the critiques by “detractors” were mostly forgotten or buried.
One by one, the “LEADERS’” of the west including Barack Obama and virtually every head of state gushed at how wonderful she was. Never mind that it was members of her own Party that turned her back on her. She sought to insure that there could be no alternative to her conscience-free “free market” policies that enriched the rich and further impoverished the poor.
There was a sprinkle of soundbites from Irish leaders and union activists trying to tell it like was. Chris Kitchen, a spokesman of the Mineworkers Union said:
“We've been waiting for a long time to hear the news of Baroness Thatcher's demise and I can't say I'm sorry. I've got no sympathy for Margaret Thatcher and I will not be shedding a tear for her. She's done untold damage to the mining community.
I don't think Margaret Thatcher had any sympathy for the mining communities she decimated, the people she threw on the dole and the state she left the country in.
I honestly can't think of anything good I can say about Margaret Thatcher”
Among the great minds that CNN interviewed was its own pundit for all seasons, that profile in courage, Richard Quest who began speaking first of those who lost their jobs because of her policies but then quickly turned to support her “reforms.”
Editor Tina Brown spoke about how great she was, a “trailblazer” for women. She then, like Quest, blasted the unions.
The media myopia was striking. While the TV Networks were hyping it up, the Guardian reported how Margaret Thatcher's death was greeted with street parties in working class neighborhoods in Brixton and Glasgow.
A headline: “Crowds shout 'Maggie Maggie Maggie, dead dead dead' during impromptu events”
The article featured a smiling pictures of people gathered around the sign: “The Bitch Is Dead.” Other signs said, “Rejoice, Rejoice!”
“Several hundred people gathered in south London on Monday evening to celebrate Margaret Thatcher's death with cans of beer, pints of milk and an impromptu street disco playing the soundtrack to her years in power.
Young and old descended on Brixton, a suburb that weathered two outbreaks of rioting during the Thatcher years. Many expressed jubilation that the leader they loved to hate was no more; others spoke of frustration that her legacy lived on.
To cheers of "Maggie Maggie Maggie, dead dead dead," posters of Thatcher were held aloft as reggae basslines pounded.
Clive Barger, a 62-year-old adult education tutor, said he had turned out to mark the passing of "one of the vilest abominations of social and economic history".
He said: "It is a moment to remember. She embodied everything that was so elitist in terms of repressing people who had nothing. She presided over a class war."
Back on TV, there was a gusher of predictable puffery from one of her fellow ruling class adoring mates, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Kissinger was also back in the news too Monday but that news was not played as prominently on CNN when I was watching. Earlier In the day there was an announcement by Wikileaks that it had “liberated” more than 1.7 million U.S. diplomatic records from 1973 to 1976, the period during which Henry Kissinger was secretary of State and national-security adviser”.
The story read, “Unlike past WikiLeaks dumps, however, most of these were already declassified. WikiLeaks main contribution was putting the trove into a searchable database called the Public Library of U.S. Diplomacy (PlusD). Assange, said the documents hint at the scope of U.S. intelligence activity around the globe at the time.”
Fortunately, Henry and Maggie will not now be able to take their secrets to the grave with them. Mrs. Thatcher had been out of new even as the movie Iron Lady painted a picture of a troubled woman who lived many ghosts and as much to be pitied as admired. Her son Mark was later arrested in Africa in conspiracy to overthrow a head of state.
I had an earlier experience with a Kissinger document.
Back in the days of the Harvard University Strike and occupation of 1969, students rifled through file cabinets in the Dean’s office. They found evidence in documents of Harvard’s assistance to the war in Vietnam and top-secret communiques from Kissinger advising that he would be off campus for trips to Vietnam.
We now know how Kissinger advised President Nixon to escalate the war, at a huge cost in civilian and military casualties, both American and Vietnamese.
Years later, when I was the News Dissector at WBN Radio in Boston, I covered Kissinger receiving yet another Humanitarian award from the World Affairs Council. The press was not allowed to cover it.
I staked out the back door with some colleagues and sure enough Henry The K exited. When Is aw him, I raised my arms as if I was his best friend, and he came right up to me, thinking he should know me and gave me a bear hug of an embrace.
I asked him he was ready to make confession. He asked about what? Crimes in Vietnam, I replied.
He then realized he was being sandbagged. He didn’t know I was wearing a mike.
His response—offered up as a joke, but like all jokes, concealed some truth—was “that it will take too much time for me to do a full confession.”
I am sure it would.
It is no wonder that he is still a target of protests including one last year when he spoke at the 92nd Street Y, and then again this coming May when he receives yet another award at a ceremony appropriately enough based on the Intrepid, A World War 11 aircraft carrier that doubles as a pro-military Hudson River showcase of weapons and Air and space museum.
News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at Newsdissector.net. A filmmaker and author edits the new Mediachannel.org.