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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

 
We'll Take Care Of Ya

by digby

It's interesting watching the fallout from the Washington Post pay to play scandal, but I have to say that I've not seen anyone address what was my first concern about such arrangements: the effect of such salons on the press. Everyone's acting as if the only problem is that the Post was compromised because it was taking money from people with a vested interest in the outcome. This is a problem, to be sure, but it's not exactly the only one. Montag in the comments asks the right question, in my opinion:

These "salons" have another effect on the press. In a sense, in such situations, they're the captive audience, and they mostly get to hear the corporate arguments, so what they end up reporting is one-sided. Weymouth wasn't also inviting grassroots groups with a decidedly different take on legislation than corporate whores or contribution-dependent legislators, so, those views will be largely absent from any reporting coming out of such gatherings. Therefore, even if the reporters attending convince themselves that they're not being compromised, that they're still independently reporting, they're still getting a stilted and tilted view of the overall picture--which is precisely the point in Weymouth's inclusion of her own reporters in her little pay-to-play get-togethers.


I wondered from the beginning when the the Post and unnamed members of the administration (who I had assumed to be in discussions about this) had invited any grassroots groups, unions or public interest organizations to attend these salons and add their perspective. They were not. And this is because their reflexive assumption is that the only "stakeholders" in this are industry and government.

This is the Village --- a small, powerful, insular group of elites with most of those in the media and all politicians among them perpetuating a myth that they are common folk with the same parochial interests as the rest of us. And that is why it never occurred to anyone that only inviting politicians, reporters and industry lobbyists to a salon to talk about health care reform was not going to result in a well rounded view of the issue. In their minds, they are "the people."

I actually respect the industry lobbyists the most. They, at least, know whose interests they represent. The rest of the villagers are far more deluded -- or dishonest.


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