Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hats Off In Swamp

by digby

Jay Carney at TIME takes his hat off to Josh Marshall and the blogosphere for "having been right in their suspicions about this story [the US Attorney purge] from the beginning," while he was rudely dismissing their claims with this:

Of course! It all makes perfect conspiratorial sense!

Except for one thing: in this case some liberals are seeing broad partisan conspiracies where none likely exist.

It's good of Carney to admit his mistake. It's far more than most MSM writers ever do when dealing with the blogosphere.

But this episode perfectly illustrates the problem with the mainstream media's coverage during the last six years. The Bush administration has been the most secretive and ruthlessly partisan in recent memory and yet the Washington bureau chief for TIME reflexively assumed a benign explanation for what was obviously at least a questionable process.

Here's Carney:

When this story first surfaced, I thought the Bush White House and Justice Department were guilty of poorly executed acts of crass political patronage. I called some Democrats on the Hill; they were "concerned", but this was not a priority.

One of the silliest conventions of modern journalism is that the press can't tell a story if "the other side" isn't screaming about it. Republicans are always screaming (and often are the ones feeding the scandal to the press in the first place) so it's very easy to find that hook. Democrats don't have the institutional infrastructure to successfully manufacture scandals and are often slow off the mark in seeing real ones, so the press doesn't feel they have any reason to pursue them. (And I guess stories about crass political patronage, even in the justice department, just aren't considered news anymore. That's a sad comment all by itself.)

In the case of the US Attorney purge, it was left to the victim to be brave enough to come forward before the mainstream press saw a story --- and likely it was mostly because the man who did it was an evangelical Christian and a Republican that made them take notice.

The problem here is that many in the press seem to see their role as some sort of referee and conduit for the two parties instead of independent fact finders and purveyors of truth.

Here's an echo of that from Richard Wolff a couple of weeks ago:

in my humble view, I think the press here does a fantastic job of adhering to journalistic standards in covering politics in general. And the, um, the interesting thing in, in looking at the political coverage as people try to guess what we do is, is that they want us to play a role that really isn't our role.

Our- our role is to ask questions and get information. But it- the press briefing isn't Prime Minister's question time. It's not a chance for the opposition to take on the government and grill them to a point where they hand- throw their hands up and surrender. Now, obviously there's a contentious spirit there- we're trying to get information, but, it's not a political exercise, it's a journalistic exercise, and I think often the blogs are looking for us to be political advocates, more than journalistic ones.

I like Wolff and Carney generally and they aren't the worst offenders by far. But this attitude is pervasive in Washington circles and it's causing some serious problems. (Partisan impeachments against the will of the people. Illegal wars. Out of control executive branch.) It comes at least partially from the fact that journalists think that by simply telling the public what the politicians are saying (much of it on double super-secret backround) they are doing their jobs. They allow both sides to play out their political games in the mainstream media and then provide running color commentary on who's "winning." In their minds, if the Democrats aren't as good at stoking scandals or creating an atmosphere of political terrorism, then it's not their job to uncover what the Republicans are doing. Democrats need to "play better" if they want to "win." (You often see a kind of admiration for the bold machismo of the Republican character assassins in the press -- they are winners.)

The fact that the Republicans are better at dirty politics and hand-feeding the kind of scandals to the press that they like should not be what controls the coverage of politics. A nose for news should be and it's clear that some combination of intimidation, laziness, commercial concerns, habit and, yes, political and cultural bias (see the disparate degrees of MSM revulsion shown toward the Democratic base and the GOP base when they exert their influence on their party)have tilted this ridiculous "playing field" waaay to the right.

And I hereby fearlessly predict that what you will see if the Democrats gain control of the government in 2008 will be a revival of 90's style "crusading" journalism in which the press will take every ginned up scandal the Republicans come up with and run with them like they are the reincarnation of Edward R. Murrow, thus proving in their own minds that they aren't servants of power after all. And they will say it's what we wanted during the Bush years and now we are complaining which proves we are partisan and they aren't.