In case you missed it- which you probably did, since no broadcast or cable "news" organization carried it- a real-life episode of The West Wing took place in Austin, Texas yesterday and early this morning.
Texas Governor Rick Perry (R-No Kidding) had unexpectedly added to a special session of the state legislature a major anti-abortion bill that called for- among other misogynistic actions- closing all but five of the huge state's 42 clinics.
Texas state senator Wendy Davis responded with a 13-hour filibuster, a wondrous effort that simultaneously demonstrated the inherent virtue of American government and the hideous manner in which it can be distorted and abused.
When it appeared the Republicans had managed to silence her by citing a series of disingenuous "rules" violations, the legislature was stopped dead in its tracks when enraged citizens in the gallery howled, sang, and shouted the proceedings to a halt. It was sheer pandemonium. And a thing of beauty.
You can find the sordid details in assorted places- here, for one- but unless you were following on Twitter or a live stream on YouTube or some other site, you wouldn't have known the senate of one of the largest states in the union was violating its own constitution and doing so while hundreds of enraged citizens in the gallery screamed in protest.
For while the very principles of a sovereign constitutional republic were being mocked and circumvented by scheming, reprehensible ideologues, CNN- The Network For News, mind you- was airing this:
To quote my sainted grandfather, "I shit you not."
Pardon my French.
I didn't expect Fox News to carry anything, of course- and they didn't. But even liberal-tilted MSNBC was airing reruns of the evening's earlier commentary shows.
In the meantime, things got even more bizarre in Texas. Their constitution requires votes on bills to be completed before special sessions expire. The Texas senate's website originally noted the bill was passed on 6/26/2013, after the midnight deadline.
No problem. They just changed the date of the vote on the website back to 6/25/2013. Texas not only strictly controls female bodies, they also can warp the space-time continuum.
And the print media? With datelines up to an hour before the actual vote took place, USA Today and others reported the filibuster failed and the legislation passed.
Note I used the past tense. So did they.
The conspiracy-minded will probably claim the conservative-leaning owners of mainstream media outlets knew the outcome well in advance, and just got sloppy. I like to take the more optimistic view that journalists today are lazy, intellectually dishonest hacks whose irredeemable cynicism and proximity to power have reduced their usefulness to nil.
It may require more effort on my part for vetting and verification, but I think from now on my primary sources of information will be live feeds and social media.
Postscript- at 4:15 am, when the websites for CNN, Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC and Reuters were still saying the outcome of the vote was in doubt, a live stream available through Twitter- nearly an hour earlier- showed Senator Davis announcing that the lieutenant governor of Texas had reversed his previous ruling and declared the vote invalid. The AP story broke at 4:01 am.