Sunday, March 11, 2007

Press problems

Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1400-1468)

There are a couple of really good pieces out right now about problems with the Establishment press:
Lancing The Boil by Digby Hullabaloo blog 03/11/07; The Coulter-Matthews-Dowd continuum by Jamison Foser 03/09/07.

Digby gives a good account of how the Libby trial has laid open the ways in which much of the national press have established such a clubby relationship to their sources that it interferes with their vital democratic function of being critical watchdogs. Her description of the difference between reporters covering for whistleblowers and covering for people exposing an undercover CIA agent for cheap political payback is excellent:

This isn't brain surgery. A reporter's privilege should not be used to help powerful people in government lie to the public about what it's doing or punish its enemies for speaking out against it. It exists to protect people who are risking their livlihoods by speaking out against those same powerful people. This is not hard for rational people to understand and yet in Washington they are so confused by their relationships with the powerful that they seem to be speaking in tongues on this issue.
Jamison Foser writes about how our Big Pundits often use mindless slurs against Democratic candidates in particular that aren't that much different in kind than those used by the Mad Annie Coulters and OxyContin Limbaughs of the world, thought Big Pundits normally use more polite language. He also reminds us that such major figures in the Republican Party's ideological world as Mad Annie can't simply be ignored:

If Coulter's seething hatred was hers alone, she might best be ignored. But that ugly andunthinking hatred isn't unique to Coulter.

Instead, Coulter's anger and venom are illustrative of the modern conservative movement. Her vitriol is embraced and rewarded by right-wing audiences far and wide. Her intellectual and rhetorical peers - Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck, among others - are, like Coulter, anything but "marginalized." They unleash vicious tirades against gays, women, minorities, and liberals - and are paid handsomely for it.
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