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Hullabaloo


Friday, May 30, 2008

 
Lapdogs

by digby

It quite amusing watching these members of the press dance on the head of a pin trying to sell us on the idea that they didn't actually kiss George W. Bush's ass for nearly six years before it finally became too unfashionable to do so. They are acting as if this has never been brought up before and they must defend their honor.

Sorry guys. Scotty is just saying what everybody who pays attention to this stuff already knew. Remember this?




Abandoning their traditional role of public watchdog, the MSM for years meekly adopted a gentlemanly tone more reminiscent of the Eisenhower era than what was to be expected at the dawn of the twenty-first century when the press's investigate zeal, displayed during the Clinton era, appeared unmatched. The forces behind the news media's dramatic mood swing, which conveniently coincided with Bush's first presidential run, were many. Key factors included the consolidated media landscape in which owners were increasingly -- almost exclusively -- multinational corporations; the same corporations anxious to win approval from the Republican-controlled federal government to allow for even further ownership consolidation. The press timidity was also fueled by the Republicans' tight grip on Congress and the White House, mixed with the GOP's love of hardball, and the MSM's natural tendency to revere Beltway power. Not to mention the deep-pocketed Republican media noise machine, created decades ago in an effort to denounce and distract the MSM. The timidity was also driven by Beltway careerism; by media insiders who understood that despite the cliché about the liberal media, advancement to senior positions was actually made doubly difficult for anyone with a reputation for being too far left, or too caustic toward Republicans. On the flip side, that same Beltway career path rewarded journalists who showed a willingness to be openly contemptuous of Democrats. And there are many eager to do so.

Part of that seemed to be visceral. News gathering is not supposed to be a popularity contest, but it was obvious journalists simply don't like or respect prominent Democrats such as Al Gore, John Kerry, Howard Dean, and Nancy Pelosi, and the coverage reflected that. And while the MSM might have respected President Bill Clinton's legendary political skills, much of the D.C. press flashed an odd, personal contempt for him, even before the Monica Lewinsky scandal came to light. The stunning stick-to-itiveness the press displayed in flogging the phony Whitewater real estate scandal, for example, illustrated a deep desire among journalists to try to find wrongdoing -- real or imagined -- inside the White House. It was a desire that evaporated upon Bush's arrival in Washington, D.C.

And even when the press periodically awoke from its slumber to cover one of the Bush administration's high-profile blunders, reporters inevitably retreated back into their shell, nervous that their questions to the White House had been too rude. A perfect example came in February 2006 when, in one of the most absurd events in recent White House history, Cheney shot a man during a hunting accident and then failed to inform the public or the press for nearly twenty-four hours. Even White House aides privately conceded Cheney and his office had completely mismanaged the situation. The White House's uncommunicative spokesman Scott McClellan came under days' worth of attacks from reporters who were trying to get to the bottom of the strange, inconsistent, and secretive tale. By midweek, Bush loyalists in the conservative press, like Fox News's Bill O'Reilly, right-wing syndicated columnist Robert Novak, and press-hating blogger Michelle Malkin, began their predictable attacks on the MSM, insisting journalists were blowing the story out of proportion and unfairly attacking the White House. Instead of dismissing those barbs as obvious attempts at damage control, journalists by week's end gathered on CNN's Reliable Source to fret about how the news media had been "whining" about the Cheney story, and guilty of "overkill." It was the type of nervous hand wringing that rarely took place within the Beltway press corps during the 1990s.

Fearful of being tagged with the liberal Scarlet L by an army of conservative press activists who, having codified their institutional rage against the MSM, stood determined to strip the press of its long-held influence, Beltway journalists throttled way back, and made a mockery out of the right-wing chestnut about the MSM pushing a progressive agenda. And in November 2005, Bob Woodward, the former star sleuth, came to symbolize the press's stunning U-turn from attack dog to lapdog.


Is that not clear enough? This was published two years ago. The fact that they are now having a little fit because Scott McClellan accuses them of not doing their jobs just proves the point. The only people the press ever listens to are Republicans.


Update: The McClatchey team who got the story on Iraq right post a scathing indictment of their brethren here. Hogwash, hogwash, hogwash indeed.

Update II:
Greenwald has a great interview about what happened with Phil Donohue.


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