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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Salon.com on the White House vs. the Press

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/03/02/media/index_np.html

Is it a coincidence that so much of the real discourse in the last election took place not in magazines, not in newspapers, but in books? Michael Moore on the Left and the Swift Boaters on the Right were the most visible, though far from the only. There were dozens of books from all over the spectrum on the charts, and they were selling.

This article gives some insight into why so many newspapers and magazines were conspicuously irrelevant. Oh, for the glory days of the 70s when newspapers actually took the idea of news seriously!

Among the most disturbing parts of the article:

[quote begins here] Suskind quotes a senior Bush advisor who dismissed reporters for living in the "the reality-based community." The advisor said, "That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."

Separately, discussing the role of journalists, White House chief of staff Andy Card famously told the New Yorker in a Jan. 20, 2004, article, "They don't represent the public any more than other people do. In our democracy, the people who represent the public stood for election. I don't believe you have a check-and-balance function." At the time, Card's blunt assessment was seen as a justification of the Bush administration's policy of keeping the press at arm's length. (Bush held the fewest first-term press conferences in modern presidential history.) It's now clear that while most mainstream reporters were getting stiffed, members of the administration were simultaneously setting up propaganda projects by lavishing the Ketchum public relations firm with nearly $100 million in contracts to "communicate" White House initiatives -- by hiring Williams, shipping out bogus video news releases, and other sleazy schemes -- and waving into the White House an amateur journalist using an alias and working for a fake news outlet. (The bogus video news releases were subsequently slapped down as an illegal use of public funds by the General Accounting Office.) end of quote]

2 Comments:

At 10:09 PM, Blogger Thomas Nixon said...

I guess we really shouldn't be surprised at the lack of press conferences because:

1. The president is not a good public speaker. He regularly makes himself and his administration look foolish. If I were his adviser, I might consider doing the same thing.

2. The president does not like to be challenged. His preference seems to be "yes" men and women. Reporters, as a rule, are supposed to challenge.

 
At 6:20 PM, Blogger Shel Horowitz, author, Principled Profit said...

Yes, exactly. We have an Imperial president who can't stomach criticism. I just read a book about the women of the American Revolution, and it talked a lot about how Washington went out of his way to avoid the trappings of Empire. Some of that humility would be a good thing right now, as would access to the real public.

 

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