Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lap dogs

Glenn does it again. He skewers the "journalists" who make up the complicit media enablers who are such a big part of the problems we face.
At the National Press Club last night, White House spokesman Tony Snow sat down for a chat with what appeared to be some of his best friends -- our nation's elite "journalists" assigned to the White House -- and they all sat around amicably bemoaning how terribly unfair the criticism is that is directed at them by blogs (h/t Atrios). Apparently, one of the most pressing media problems in America is . . . that bloggers demand too much of the national journalists who are assigned to report on the activities and claims of the Government.

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Really, what kind of warped and obsessive American would devote themselves to such an unnecessary task as "media criticism," as though our elite national journalists -- who are doing such "a fantastic job of adhering to journalistic standards and covering politics in general" -- need anyone, let alone bloggers, telling them how to do their job.

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See, all journalists are supposed to do is ask questions of their friends -- like that great guy, Tony Snow -- and that is how they "get information." Then, they pass it along. That's it. That's their job (that echoes what Gordon told Goodman: "the way journalism works is you write what you know, and what you know at the time you try to convey as best you can").

Those who think they should actually do more than that -- as embodied by the demand of bloggers that they actually be adversarial and skeptical about the information-gathering process, and that they actually investigate and scrutinize what the Government tells them, rather than mindlessly pass it along -- is all just a lamentable by-product of how unpleasantly political and angry bloggers are. Wolffe explained what we fail to understand:

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.
The reality, of course, is that most media-criticizing bloggers do not want journalists to be "political advocates." They want them to do what journalists are supposed to do -- which is not, contrary to Wolffe's belief, sit around with their good, trustworthy, nice-guy friends in the White House and simply "ask questions" and "get information," but instead to scrutinize that information, treat it with doubt, investigate it before passing it along to determine whether it's true. And the reason bloggers want them to do that, the reason that bloggers demand more of journalists like Wolffe, is not because bloggers are enraged, confused, unreasonable partisans. It's because bloggers are American citizens who are deeply concerned about what has happened to their country over the last six years and criticize the press and demand more of it because Wolffe's overly-friendly relationships with Bush officials like Tony Snow, and Wolffe's simplistic and lazy conception of what a reporter does, produces extremely destructive and shoddy "journalism"

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And, as Wolffe explained last night -- with the narrow, slothful, and self-defensive mentality of a low-level bureaucrat -- that is his only job. They're not supposed "to take on the government and grill them" -- that would be terribly impolite, very "political," and beyond his job description. Bloggers who think that Wolffe should have done more than regurgitate what he was told by a war-hungry administration are the real problem here -- not Wolffe and his gullible journalistic colleagues who are doing a "fantastic job," nor the administration officials who fed them these falsehoods.

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Reporters like Wolffe develop such close affection for the people that they are covering that they see themselves as part of the Government -- which is what they become -- rather than watchdogs over them.

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It is truly astonishing that the people who enabled the administration to spew one falsehood after the next -- and who aided and abetted the worst strategic disaster in our country's history by mindlessly passing those falsehoods along to their readers, completely failing to investigate any of it, but instead obediently validating it all with journalistic approval -- now want to sit around in the most self-satisfied way and pronounce that they are doing an absolutely "fantastic job" and complain about the vulgar masses who disrupt their tranquility by criticizing them for being insufficiently vigilant.

And to those American citizens who remain rather angry about the complete failure of the press to scrutinize the war-justifying claims made by their friends in the government -- and who wake up every day and devote themselves to trying to prod the press into performing its intended adversarial watchdog role so that our Government has at least some checks on what it can say and do -- people like Richard Wolffe have nothing to say other than to agree with Tony Snow that they are vulgar and hateful and to lecture them -- in his snidest and most condescending tone -- that they are just ignorant, confused, and unreasonably demanding.

Truly, the spectacle of watching our country's leading White House journalists sitting there next to Tony Snow -- all of them oozing pomposity and self-satisfaction -- while Snow engineers the entire discussion and treats them like the friendly puppets that they are (Snow: "What do you think, Richard?" Richard: "Yeah, uh, well . . . I totally agree."), is quite difficult to endure, but is nonetheless truly revealing. How can someone who authored the above-excerpted articles, in which they disseminated to the world patent falsehoods that helped to unleash a grotesquely unnecessary and grotesquely brutal war, all on false pretenses, now parade around in public touting what a great job they have done and attack bloggers for criticizing them?

With rare exception, could our national press corps be any more self-regarding, empty, corrupt and worthless? Given that our national media is composed of "journalists" like Richard Wolffe (and Michael Gordon) -- who look at their behavior and conclude that they are doing a "fantastic job" and that the real problem lies with the ignorant, dirty barbarians who dare to criticize them -- is it really any wonder that our political discourse and our political institutions are as fundamentally degraded and as broken as they are?

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