March 21, 2005
From Meet the Press to Be the Press
The Economist just said it: the "the traditional notion that the media play a special role in informing people is breaking down." Rising up: government as a "purely neutral" news provider, credible where a sinking press corps is not.
I see (via samizdata.net) that The Economist is now on the case I have been calling de-certification of the press. This, I think, is a significant development.
Video news releases are more of an issue today because government-provided news is more of a reality, the article says. (It’s subscribers only.) The Economist agrees, and so do I, that TV news directors are the ones primarily responsible if government-issue “news” gets through the filter and on the air. But it then goes on to describe what is happening to the press under Bush, and the new attitude the President has wrought:
So is the Bush administration in the clear? Not really. It is on record as saying that there is nothing special about the press: it is just another interest group. As Andy Card, the White House chief of staff, has put it, the administration does not think that the press has “a check-and-balance function”. This is a fundamental change of attitude compared with previous administrations and makes this one’s use of fake news different.
I agree: a fundamental change is afoot, and we have to try to understand it. The Economist zeroes in on why the “special interest” charge matters. Listen carefully— they’re catching on:
If there is nothing special about the press, then there is nothing special about what it does. News can be anything—including dressed-up government video footage. And anyone can provide it, including the White House, which, through local networks, can become a news distributor in its own right. Given the proliferation of media outlets and the eroding of boundaries between news, comment and punditry, someone will use government-provided information as news.
“In short,” says the magazine, “the traditional notion that the media play a special role in informing people is breaking down.” It’s true. And that is the development I am calling de-certification, because the traditional idea is not breaking down by itself. It has assistance and intervention from above. The Economist brings it home:
Behind all this lies a shift in the balance of power in the news business. Power is moving away from old-fashioned networks and newspapers; it is swinging towards, on the one hand, smaller news providers (in the case of blogs, towards individuals) and, on the other, to the institutions of government, which have got into the business of providing news more or less directly. Eventually, perhaps, the new world of blogs will provide as much public scrutiny as newspapers and broadcasters once did. But for the moment the shifting balance of power is helping the government behemoth.
And for the moment the government behemoth is helping itself to a status that is increasingly being denied to the press: that of a neutral, disinterested, just-the-facts style information provider. It is quite a switch.
De-certification, as I have called it, has these two faces. One is about putting journalists in a diminished place, as in: Don’t answer their questions, it only encourages the askers to think they’re legitimate interlocutors, proxies for the public. And they’re not, in the White House view. (That’s what the briefing room struggle is all about. Getting that “not” across.)
But there’s the other side of it: what the Bush Administration does to “inform the public” is described as purely factual, a noble service, while the traditional press is dismissed as inherently biased, unrepresentative, unable to serve the general interest Americans have in informing themselves. These rising and falling motions are deeply connected. Discrediting traditional journalism helps in accrediting government as a more reliable news provider.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post explained part of it in a Sunday column (March 20). “In the past,” he wrote, “the key to winning in politics was to control the information. Now, when information has no controls, the key is making your information credible and casting doubt on other information — such as that found in the mainstream press.”
We can observe this happening in the recent action around video news releases. (For background and key documents see Media Citizen. Also see Salon’s Eric Boehlert.) In January, the Government Accounting Office (GAO), the accountability arm of Congress, issued another opinion declaring illegal the Administration’s use of video news releases “that failed to disclose to the viewing audience that they had been produced and distributed by a government agency.” It had been requested by Democrats in the House.
The GAO opinion grew out of the Karen Ryan case, in which a fake reporter, hired by the government, read from a script that made it seem like she was engaged in real news-gathering.
On March 11, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a counter-memo advising government agencies to ignore the GAO opinion. Justice said the Comptroller General of the U.S. is wrong, and common sense is wrong too, for in fact “it is legal for federal agencies to feed TV stations prepackaged news stories that do not disclose the government’s role in producing them,” as the Washington Post story put it.
When I examined the Administration’s counter-memo explaining why it’s okay to distribute deliberately deceptive material, purporting to be the results of an independent inquiry by professional journalists, one thing jumped out at me: The memo is at its most aggressive when it refers to “purely informational VNRs.”
That phrase, “purely informational,” is used to describe the kind of video news releases the Bush Administration makes. These aren’t the selective highlighting of facts the client wants to play up (so the client pays up) which is what VNR’s are universally understood to be in the industry that makes them. Legitimate advocacy providing legitimate news.
No, a Federal VNR, though produced by the same pros who work in the industry, is a “purer” product, a lot more like what we once thought was straight news. The Office of Legal Counsel boasts of the “purely informational nature” of the government’s PR message, different from “undisclosed advocacy,” even though the undisclosed part may be true. It includes this remarkable passage:
OLC does not agree with GAO that the “covert propaganda” prohibition applies simply because an agency’s role in producing and disseminating information is undisclosed or “covert,” regardless of whether the content of the message is “propaganda.” Our view is that the prohibition does not apply where there is no advocacy of a particular viewpoint, and therefore it does not apply to the legitimate provision of information concerning the programs administered by an agency.
Read carefully, that says it’s okay for the government’s hidden hand to operate in the television news Americans see because the Bush Adminstration, through its Office of Legal Counsel, has determined that the Bush Administration, when it undertakes to provide the public with news, has motives and methods that do not, in any way, include advocacy. There is no “particular viewpoint” in the fake news spots, no message like: Bush Administration on the case.
According to the government, the government’s aims are purely informational— like the reporting in mainstream journalism was ideally supposed to be, back when it was supposed to inform the public, and offer an independent check on government’s tendency to tell tales. Back when “meet the press” was part of governing the country. Before “be the press” occurred to anyone in the Executive Branch.
The Administration says that it is easily capable of the kind of strict separation of advocacy and information that the press, renamed the Liberal Media, is mostly incapable of today, according to some in the Administration, according to many who are allies, according to all who are involved on that front in the Culture War where the “MSM” is seen as a discredited force (yet still in need of toppling.)
Journalists have an agenda. Government information officers just deal in facts. The same argument was heard during Attorney General John Ashcroft’s early bird de-certification special in 2003. Ashcroft, as you’ll recall, banned print reporters from questioning him during his speaking tour on behalf of the Patriot Act. (Todd Gitlin and I wrote about it.)
Justice Department spokeswoman Barbara Comstock says her boss, with few exceptions, is only granting short interviews to local TV stations as a way of “explaining key facts directly to the American people and not having as much of a filter from people who are already invested in having a different view of it.”
The journalists have a slanted view of it. The Attorney General is just trying to explain key facts. His purposes are informational. Who’s the better journalist, Ashcroft or the press?
While today ninety-nine percent of the clients who pay for the production of a video news release about their work want it to highlight the great work being done, in Bushland there is, we’re told, none of that stuff. No spin allowed, guys and gals. Just the facts, Uncle Sam.
Now according to the Public Relations Society of America, voice of the industry that makes VNR’s (and that created the need for Karen Ryan) members should not impersonate journalists. “PRSA recommends that organizations that prepare VNRs should not use the word ‘reporting’ if the narrator is not a reporter.”
Thus the Justice Department recommends a lower standard of transparency for the government than the PR industry recommends for itself. The message to government departments is “keep impersonating the press on camera, it’s legal and it’s fine.” In the public relations industry, the standard is now mention in the script who produced this “news.” The Bush Administration says: not needed.
Why is this happening?
The Economist glimpsed it: the “the traditional notion that the media play a special role in informing people is breaking down.” Getting built up are the credentials of the Federal government as a credible and substitute news provider. Informing the public is what the government does quite well on its own, without interference from Congress and from special interests like the press.
“Purely informational.” To me it has a menacing sound. I suppose it applies also to the doubling of the PR budget under George W. Bush. (According to this House report.) Twice as much neutral information was needed, apparently.
As Frank Rich wrote in his column for this week, “The brakes are off, and before long, the government could have a larger budget for fake news than actual television news divisions have for real news.” (For more, see this report from the activist group freepress.)
In its front-page investigation of video news releases—a very welcome sight, published March 13—the New York Times noted that Federal agencies are careful to tell distributors of its news releases that the government is the producer of the simulated news therein. (Which is the entire legitimation method making it “okay” to make believe you’re a journalist.) The production itself is then free to “hide” the Federal hand, because under the rules of the game it’s disclosed— once.
The reports themselves, though, are designed to fit seamlessly into the typical local news broadcast. In most cases, the “reporters” are careful not to state in the segment that they work for the government. Their reports generally avoid overt ideological appeals. Instead, the government’s news-making apparatus has produced a quiet drumbeat of broadcasts describing a vigilant and compassionate administration.
The Times resists the Bush Adminstration’s description of its methods as “purely informational.” By such means a resistance movement may yet emerge. I would call this moment in the press room another sign of resistance. (Bush is asked: “Does it raise ethical questions about the use of government money to produce stories about the government that wind up being aired with no disclosure that they were produced by the government?”)
The Comptroller General, David Walker, is fighting back. Even if it’s legal to hide the government’s hand in news reporting, he says, is that the ethical standard Americans want from their government?
Walker represents opposition from Congress, which might be expected to resist an expansion of Executive power by acquisition of assets surrendered by the Fourth Estate when it ceased credibly to exist, according to the White House. Ultimately that’s what the clash of opinions—GAO vs. Justice—is about: not the Adminstration’s right to “manage” the news (old think), but to substitute itself for the increasingly discredited news media (new).
With the press being ground down, we don’t know who is the presidency’s legitimate interlocutor. The role seems to have gone missing. Within the Bush Bubble—and the “town meetings” on Social Security are a sad, infuriating example of this—it is understood that only safely screened supporters may rise to request a public explanation from the President. (Learn how extreme this is from the Post’s Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker.)
Dan Froomkin, who writes the White House Briefing column for the Washington Post, says “the White House would appear to have established these bubble trips as standard operating procedure whenever the president wants to make his case to the American people.” Wow.
And that’s the standard that may replace “meet the press.” When Be the Press is fully established the new interlocutor of the Executive Branch will be the Executive Branch itself.
It was nice of The Economist to hope that individual actors in “the new world of blogs will provide as much public scrutiny as newspapers and broadcasters once did.” I don’t think that’s realistic right now, do you? Yet neither is the current course on which the White House press is set. There’s a routine, but there is no realism in that routine.
I see the Bush Team and Bush himself, acting through his counselor Karl Rove, as political innovators, first and last. (Not conservatives.) They are big picture people. They attempt what previous regimes would not. What all experience hath shewn does not impress or depress them. They have new wisdom to offer the world. They will gamble and go for the long gainer. They tend to change the game on you.
And, as journalists have told us, they’re disciplined, loyal, relentlessly on the same page— a true cadre. The Bush press policy, dumping the Fourth Estate and “news management” imagery, is a political innovation and shows the acumen of this Administration.
The innovation is in the coherence and totality of the approach, from the special interest argument, and the grinding newslessness of the briefings, to the fake news forms encouraged at the Department level, and how it all fits with the Bush Bubble, plus other simulations of the very things being lost— or being destroyed.
Here’s how I tried to describe it on the day after the ‘04 election:
The Bush White House has the national press in a box. (A “hammerlock,” says this account.) As with so many other situations, they have changed the world and allowed the language of the old world to keep running while exploring unchallenged the fact of the new. The old world was the Fourth Estate, and the watchdog role of the press, the magic of the White House press conference. It was a feeling that, though locked in struggle much of the time, journalists and presidents needed each other. Although it was never put this way, they glamourized Washington politics together, and this helped both.
We’re in the twilight of that world. During its days of influence the citizens of the United States were represented twice when the President met the press for questions and answers. The President represented the people, the press represented the public.
Why two reps, why these two words? Because the same Americans who believe in popular sovereignty (election to office) believe too in public opinion (government by discussion.) The people elect the President. It’s the public’s job to continue the disscussion, and keep the light of public scrutiny on. The press does not represent the people— at all. It can represent the public’s stake in reliable information and vigorous debate.
During Bush’s first term he took a memorable swipe at reporters: “You’re assuming that you represent the public. I don’t accept that.” He might have been simply reminding journalists: you were not elected, and I was. Or he might have been saying something bolder and new: The American people don’t need to be twice represented anymore. Once is enough, and we are going to show you that.
Maybe it’s all coincidence, maybe not, but according to a report in the Washington Times, plans are underway to renovate the White House briefing room and press area, which would temporarily displace reporters to the Old Executive Office Building.
“It’s going to be like a house renovation,” said White House Correspondents Association President Ron Hutcheson. “The bottom line is this is necessary and could be a real benefit to the press corps. But my main concern is I want to make sure it’s not part of an effort to reduce our space or push us out of the West Wing.”
My main concern is a little different. This summer, the White House correspondents—in dialogue with colleagues, bosses, the public, and with history itself—need to renovate their ideas while the official press quarters are re-built. For them I have a hard question: why go back there at all? There may be good answers to that, but they can’t be the same answers, given what The Economist called a “fundamental change of attitude compared with previous administrations.”
The show is still running, but we’re no longer in the world of Meet the Press. Beat the press is more accurate. And be the press is an idea on the way.
After Matter: Notes, reaction & links…
Dan Froomkin at White House Briefing on how the emptiness of Bush’s Social Security road show is coming through in the local press coverage:
Ever since his State of the Union address, Bush has been riding Air Force One to and fro, holding campaign-style “conversations” on Social Security during which he typically says nothing new and provides no details of his proposal.
Up until now, not just local reporters but even the national ones as well have typically bent over backward to treat what Bush says at these events like news.
But today’s stories capture not so much what Bush says but what is most remarkable about these events: the stagecraft that goes into them and the exclusion of the general public in favor of screened supporters.
Hey, political reporters: How long before there is unrest in the Republican coalition over the Bush Bubble? Jacob Weisberg of Slate explains why the President’s supporters should be alarmed. The bubble, which appears to be the safe way, actually increases the risks to Bush:
The self-enclosed world of conservative spin increases the risk to the president by insulating him from the truth about how his plan is going over. Meeting only with handpicked audiences in rehearsed “town hall” meetings, Bush not only encounters little substantive challenge to his views but also avoids getting any realistic sense of how little traction his plan has gotten. In this way, the propaganda president risks becoming the real victim of his administration’s own fake news.
Special thanks and blogger’s hat tip to Ron Brynaert for information he kindly dug up and sent me. And also to Jeff Jarvis and several people who helped me with the Economist article.
Blogger, newspaper publisher and PressThink reader Stephen Waters has an idea: the White House should turn the briefing into a blog:
Looking back, the gaggle wasn’t our idea, it came from the major media. It gave you a daily feed to highlight network news and serve as a springboard for you to launch your own message, anyway. You’ll still be able to do that. Nothing much will change. On our website we will release video clips chosen to represent the news we feel the public needs to know. You can work those clips into your stand-ups. Bullet points of what we want to communicate are also on the website, not that you have to use them. Absence of news clips hasn’t stopped you in the past from filling up dead air with projection and conjecture from your stable of talking heads.
“Create our own discourse.” Digby suggests a fateful choice:
There is no partisan left wing media that can pound away at the stories that are damaging to Republicans thereby keeping the mainstream media focused and aware of the drumbeat. Indeed that is why many of us are advocating that we create such a thing. It’s been clear for more than a decade that the mainstream media responds almost unthinkingly to the deafening sounds of the right wing noise machine and now seems paralyzed by the power the Republican establishment exerts over it. They simply are incapable of speaking truth to power and employing the kind of skepticism that is required if this body politic is to be healthy.
…It’s a risky and frightening thing to do and I honestly don’t know where it will lead. But I think we have no choice but to enter this fray and just hope that we can keep things straight in our own minds.
I missed this the first time. Command Post on Fishbowl DC’s Garrett Graff being called the “first blogger” to be credentialed to the White House (via the day press he obtained.) Fishbowl DC is part of the Media Bistro empire.
Calling this Graff person a blogger is like calling the pimply kid who brings Brit Hume doughnuts a broadcaster.
A blogger pays his own bills. A blogger has comments, if at all possible. A blogger does his own writing or chooses a few friends to help. A blogger has trackbacks. A blogger links to other REAL bloggers, not the mainstream dorks Graff links to.
A blogger is not an “editor.” A blogger does not receive a salary, unless it’s from a corporation he himself formed as a result of making money from a genuine blog. A blogger does not have interns. A blogger—most importantly—has NO ONE to answer to.
Let’s see what happens to little Garrett if he ever goes against the people who pay his bills. Same thing that would happen to Wankette. A quick elevator ride to the sidewalk, and a hastily-chosen successor; probably a receptionist or a janitor with an English degree. New “blogger,” same “blog.” If you’re not essential to your blog’s identity, you are not a blogger. You are what is known in the trade as “a copywriter.”
By Command Post’s standards, BTC News (brainchild of PressThink reader and contributor Weldon Berger) was the “first” blogger in the White House press room.
Here’s an interesting advance in citizens journalism and the personal media revolution. Here’s another with great potential.
Favorite Filters: You should, in these times, be reading Cursor, even if it’s just to keep up with what the other guy is snorting and steaming about. It’s one of the best media & politics filters out there. Also check in with the more idiosyncratic Metafilter, another fine net, letting good stuff through. Real Clear Politics is also indispensible, if you don’t use it now. And I am getting more and more impressed with the Daou Report for sampling blogdom.
John Podhoretz in the Weekly Standard, October 2004, during the Dan Rather, Air National Guard mess:
This is a moment that’s been a very long time coming. For four decades now, conservatives have been convinced, with supreme justification, that the institutional, ideological, and cultural biases of the mainstream media represented a danger to the causes in which they believe and the ideas they hold dear. What has happened over the past weeks isn’t the beginning of a transformation. It’s the culmination of a 40-year-long indictment that has, at long last, led to a slam-dunk conviction.
Posted by Jay Rosen at March 21, 2005 8:05 PM
Hi, Jay. Thanks for the link.
I think the institutional press are getting desperate. You mentioned Dan Froomkin's Post columns and chat in your previous piece; the guy is practically begging for someone to help the national political press out from the corner they've boxed themselves into. A brief exchange with another national reporter last week revealed the same sense of desperation there, too, although not as overt and not as dismissive of bloggers.
I've got as much probably unwarranted ego as the next guy, but I don't want to think of myself as an individual actor in this play. (For one thing, I'm not: there wouldn't be any White House dispatches on the site absent Eric Brewer, the BTC News contributor who lives in the area.) What I would prefer is to be at the leading edge of an effort to co-opt the press; not to oppose or undermine it, as the White House does and as the (once far) right has spent forty years and hundreds of millions of dollars in a successful effort to do, but to add an additional dimension to it that provides the the institutional press an excuse to go beyond the limits they've largely imposed upon themselves and that they're clearly becoming aware of in increasing numbers. Hang out at Romenesko's letters page for a couple of weeks and you'll see what I mean.
Obviously I approach this from a political perspective as well as from the perspective of a reader who is tired, tired of an institutional press who manage to screw up straightforward stories so consistently that it keeps Steve Lovelady and his posse in business and overworked. (And I'll offer up Steve as an example of an institutional press guy who has undergone a profound transformation after a year or more of looking at the business from the critic's perspective.)
That latter is an area in which bloggers of any stripe who operate in good faith can help, by providing journalists with the broader context of stories and an opportunity to revisit stories that warrant a second look. They needn't limit themselves to noticing bloggers only when some of us whip up a shitstorm.
From a leftist political standpoint, bloggers can provide a safety valve for the pressures imposed on journalists by the right. Some liberals, most recently Digby, have suggested that the left needs to create a media machine the equal of the right's. I don't think so. For one, we haven't 40 years to spare, and for another we don't need to because the right is right: The press are inherently liberal, and it's because Americans are inherently liberal. What liberal bloggers as journalists can do is create opportunities, an infrastructure, through which the press can reflect that national bias and, by golly, make money at it too. Sort of a field of dreams thing: if you build it, they will come.
What "it" is, is a press that doesn't leave viewers and readers feeling cheated. CJR Daily has an interview up with recently retired CBS foreign correspondent Tom Fenton, whose book, Bad News, describes a network news system that is so flawed as to be not just useless but actively destructive, and he makes clear that the principals, the anchors and high-profile reporters, know it. They know they're cheating their audiences by delivering a bad product, but the only people they won't spill their guts about it to are the people they're cheating. They need help lancing the boil. The print press are a little more up front about it; not enough, yet, to do any real good, but there's a tipping point, in terms of an opportunity to push the press in the right direction, approaching if not already passing underneath us.
Dear Press: you need us. We will be your sponsors. Take a deep breath and start on your twelve step journey to redemption.
The only thing I have to say about the Shiavo case and Teri's Law is that soon enough it'll be topped by Tom's Law, where Tom DeLay's supporters argue that his political career has a right to life and Congress should invalidate whatever the courts eventually do to it, and him. I'm looking forward to the coverage.
The irony is that by presenting government propaganda as "news", the corporate media its destroying its credibility on its own volition. Its one thing for government propaganda to exist----it always has and always will exist. Its another thing for the corporate media to present that propaganda as if it isn't propaganda.
More important however is the nature of government propaganda. The key phrase in Jay's piece, IMHO, is
Ultimately that's what the clash of opinions--GAO vs. Justice--is about: not the Adminstration's right to "manage" the news (old think), but to substitute itself for the increasingly discredited news media (new).
In past administrations, news "management" meant getting the administration's perspective on the facts presented in the most favorable light. This administration isn't just "substituting itself" as a source of factual information, it is literally redefining people's perception of reality by consistently presenting lies as facts.
The expectation of the American public is that the mainstream media will tell us when politicians are lying --- and when the mainstream media fails to do so, it is the credibility of the messenger that is damaged. People expect politicians to be politician, and expect the media to cut through the BS. It is the consistency with which the Bush regime is lying that has overwhelmed the corporate media's ability to perform its traditional function of informing the public.
In the past, the corporate media operated under the assumption that although politicians would "spin" the facts to their advantage, there were usually limits to that spin. The media could assume that, by relating the government's position, it was at the very least providing an approximation of the facts. And when people lied on issues of substance, the corporate media was able to hold them to account because those kinds of lies were fairly infrequent.
The Bush administration, on the other hand, is willing to engage in extensive disinformation campaigns on issues of the most vital importance to the American people. There may have been some excuse for telling the American people that Iraq had WMDs --- it was 'conventional wisdom'. But there was no excuse for the campaign to convince people of a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda---that was a pure and unequivocal disinformation campaign aimed at exploiting the trauma of 9-11.
And when it became clear, well prior to the invasion of Iraq, that there was no al Qaeda connection, the mainstream media did report it. In the past, such reporting would have resulted in an administration's retreat from these kinds of assertions---the Bush regime did not retreat, and the mainstream media did not know what to do about it, because they work under the assumption of the essential honesty of American leaders, and that the only reason that the Bush regime would not retreat was if it knew more than it could talk about publicly.
When we talk about "de-certifying the press", we aren't just talking about finding ways around the mainstream media, or attacking it for being "biased" or using Karen Ryan and Armstrong Williams to get the administration's message out. We are talking about destroying the credibility of the mainstream media by using it to spread disinformation. Jayson Blair and "Memogate" are virtually irrelevant to the question of whether people consider the media to be credible because Blair's fabrications and CBS's mistakes were not of any real consequence. But when people find out that the media is not a reliable source of factual information on issues that are of vital importance to them, everything that comes through the mainstream media is viewed with suspicion.
People have been suspicious of politicians since Vietnam and Watergate, and have relied upon the mainstream media to tell them the truth. When politicians lie, and the media does not make it crystal clear that lies are being told, it is the reputation of the media that suffers the most.
It's too bad that the conservatives that have been coming here today to attack don't get it that it's not just the liberal press that has been de-certified.
It's the conservative press, too.
The Bush Administration can't be happy about the daily attacks on their immigration policy (and proposed immigration policy).
As for the attacks on the people who have used the word "liberal" to describe the news. For one, that has been discussed previously on this Website, just last week.
As hard as this is to grasp, all art...all writing...is inherently liberal.
Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
Now, of course, the ideology of the writer shapes the writing. So a William F. Buckley, while engaging in a liberal artform which seeks to open up a debate about any particular topic, applies his conservative beliefs to what he writes.
Nothing wrong of that, of course.
But the truth is...all the conservative pundits and right leaning bloggers are more LIBERAL than they think.
The definition of a close-minded intolerant conservative press would be just what Jay is talking about...what the Bush Administration appears to favor. This is a threat to both sides and all American, and practically everyone else in the world.
As a good friend said recently, "The New York Times is liberally biased, and if you can't agree to that then I'm not even going to talk to you."
"Liberal Media Bias" is an article of faith with some people, as evidenced above. Why? Because, well, gee, we've got a study that shows that the press was three times more likely to be negative towards Bush than Kerry. It's a nice, simple stat, like those stats that show that reporters voted overwhelmingly for Clinton.
Point out other perspectives, other studies, other interpretations, other surveys... or, heaven forbid, examine what their studies actually say ... and you're just trying to change the subject... or you're just trying to confuse matters... or you're just ... well, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM A LIBERAL? (irony alert: these same people tend to be the ones nitpicking global climate science)
The liberal media bias meme is many things, but it is in many ways a cultural backlash against the arrogance of my profession. To this point it has been triumphant, succeeding to the extent that reporters (myself included) tend to worry incessantly about trying to be inclusive of conservative voices.
But experience teaches that it just doesn't matter: The sin is to be a mainstream journalist, and once you're that, nothing you can do mitigates the scorn of the LMB critics.
Read the decertification articles carefully. They explain what's going on. If you need a better orientation to systematic bias analysis, try Rhetorica. And finally, do what I do: read the Media Research Center's CyberAlert and the Media Matters for America home page every day. Do an honest comparison over time. One is trivial; the other is substantial.
Otherwise you can just continue to stomp around in circles shouting "bias, bias, BIAS!" The backlash against your excesses is already underway.
The de-certification is real, continuing -- and necessary. That is, the MSM Liberally Biased press is being de-certified, from below, and deserves it.
What to do? "nothing you can do mitigates the scorn of the LMB critics" -- how about being more critical of the Dems -- what IS their plan?
On MORAL issues, some 26 million voted for Bush, only 4 million for Kerry (see Pew, or my 3-d analysis) -- but newsrooms have essentially blacklisted anybody who supports Bush morals.
Bias-deniers, like Ron Brynaert, fail to address the news story of the form-that-must-not-be-named. The one Kerry may, finally sign (says Kaus) -- and we'll find out either 1) nothing there, he was stupid to not sign it before, or 2) whoops, that first PH really was kinda questionable; zero days in hospital; most of the Swiftie Claims are established or the official reports don't fully contradict them.
Harry Potter #4 has a character, Rita Skeeter, whose goal is to write biased articles against the Ministry of Magic, then For Harry, then against Harry's friends, and against him. It's a great set of clearly biased reports. A lot like MSM.
The NYT or Liberal Press takes a white house speech, interprets it and twists its meaning. But the speech itself is there on the web; one can read what Bush actually DID say -- and it's not what the Biased Press wants to claim he said. In this way, the press is decertifying itself.
Jay, thanks (again) for a great, important idea. But, again, you're wrong: the problem is NOT Bush -- it's too many secularist, anti-Christian Leftists in the newsrooms. And in the Universities. How is it possible that genetics CAN force some to be homosexual, but can NOT influence more men to be gifted physicists than women? Only in a PC theology, where facts don't matter as much as intentions.
PC la la land, where any good results of Bush policies you oppose are explained away, and any bad results of policies you support are ignored. But the bad results of Bush policies, no matter how small, are relentlessly "reported" and "analyzed", much like a Jehovah's Witness person is willing to talk and talk and talk.
The reason the gov't is moving in on providing info, and the MAIN reason (not only), is that the Dem Party faithful whose jobs are in reporting "news" are unable to get their facts straight, when the facts disagree with their passionately held beliefs.
Chimp-Bush the idiot -- Genius Bush the innovator of evil. Bah.
Jay, wake up: "the new world of blogs will provide as much public scrutiny as newspapers and broadcasters once did." -- heck, Rathergate and Easongate show that bloggers are ALREADY doing better. The question is whether the Left can come up with facts, rather than foaming at the mouth Bush hate rants (this does NOT mean here at PressThink). Real facts, not strawman twisted quotes.
The problem with you, and Kos, Krugman, Kevin Drum, is your own lying bias. Social Security is unsustainable "as is" -- either taxes go up, or benefits are cut (incl. retirement age deferred) ... or, for the same amount of money taken, the return on the forced retirement savings goes up. The lying Dems say "no crisis" (now), but refuse to disclose this means a BIGGER tax increase or benefit cut later.
Of course, that IS the future ... and there are no real facts, today, about the future. (I think I've written this here before.) Only what some folk say.
Ain't those pro-democracy protests and demonstrations popping out all over the Mid East wonderful? Might not work; might see some civil wars -- but at least the folk are learning to HOPE for freedom. Of course, that's just my opinion.
How about being more critical of the Dems?
Back in my political coverage days I spread the pain around plenty good, and let me just say that Republicans and Democrats have one thing in common: Both are convinced that we went easier on the other guy.
Anyway, I think it would be great if we could get back to a country where the Democratic position was actually relevant and worthy of critique. Color me commie, but I always thought the idea of a two-party system was a pretty good one. Then again, it's hard to call the Dems a party: they're really more like a loose coalition.
Media Matters is laughable
Oh, I see: only OUR side has any claim to the truth; the other side's claims are laughable. Ha ha. In fact, they're so laughable, we're not even going to consider their points, as we demand that our points be considered. At what point do you actually put your index fingers in your ear holes?
Has it never occurred to the True Believers that the left complains about MSM bias CONSTANTLY? The LMB harpies' attitude seems to be "Hey, we were here first: You hippies go get your own schtick."
And, though it physically pains me to argue with ANYONE who goes by the incredibly cool KVJr. handle "Kilgore Trout," to say that decertification is about partisan politics is an intellectual belly flop.
We are not talking about conservative ideas on government and foreign policy and economics here, boys. The topics are power and control. And if the conservative agenda has gotten mixed up with the power agenda, as I fear that it has, then heaven help us. It's not just the press that's in danger of being decertified.
Whoops! Mistrust of federal power! A classical conservative idea! Don't tell my media buddies or they'll revoke my Liberal Media Press Card and I won't be able to get into any of those cool Moonbat parties where Hollywood stars cavort with Satan and environmental groups hand out all those big bribes.
Robin: The Bolton memo doesn't really distinguish VNRs that are purely informational from those that advocate a policy position. It just declares the Bush Adminstration's VNR's "purely informational," and says of course "advocacy" is a no no, and it says agency heads are responsible for keeping it that way.
The OLC did not, for example, conduct an investigation itself or make a finding that the VNRs actually produced by the Government (most of which we don't know about) are "purely informational." It has no direct knowledge.
The GAO reports that are critical of VNRs argue that they constitute propaganda because the government is not identified as the source and patron of the news therein. This is my argument, too, and it is my main concern: Thus:
One of the activities banned under the publicity or propaganda prohibition involves what is referred to as covert propaganda, that is, an agency’s production and distribution of materials that do not identify the agency, or indeed the government, as their source, thereby misleading those who refer to these materials...
Findings of covert propaganda, however, are predicated upon a factual finding that the target audience cannot ascertain the correct source of agency-prepared information...
CMS [a divison of Health and Human Services] wanted news organizations to broadcast its prepackaged news stories and anchor remarks, and facilitated this by providing news organizations with ready-to-use, off the shelf news stories CMS targeted at television viewing audiences...
CMS did not indicate that its stories about the government were, in fact, prepared by the government. The critical element of covert propaganda is the concealment of the agency’s role in sponsoring the materials...
By their very nature, prepackaged news stories primarily target television-viewing audiences, not news broadcasters, and this is true of ONDCP’s [Office of Drug Control Policy] prepackaged news stories. The proof of this is that, like CMS, ONDCP designed and executed its story packages to be indistinguishable from news stories produced by private sector television news organizations...
ONDCP admitted that the news broadcasters were not its target audience, explaining that Congress “anticipates that we [ONDCP] will influence the attitudes and behaviors of our target audiences, and . . . authorizes us to use various media to effect these changes.”
...By its own records, ONDCP’s prepackaged news stories reached more than 22 million households, without disclosing to any of those viewers -- the real audience -- that the products they were watching, which “reported” on the activities of a government agency, were actually prepared by that government agency, not by a seemingly independent third party... This is the essence of the “covert propaganda” violation -- agency-created materials that are “misleading as to their origin.”
Bolton's reply was essentially: no, to be illegal under the "covert propaganda" provision, VNR's have to hide the hand of the government (that's being covert) and they have to be propaganda, and our VNRs are not propaganda, advocacy or point of view, no, never, they're "purely informational."
Get it? Therefore there is no "propaganda effect" even if, as the GAO wrote, the HHS "did not indicate that its stories about the government were, in fact, prepared by the government."
In my assessment, the one thing Bolton and the Justice Department did not want to do, under any circumstances, was actually examine the VNR's and make a determination that they were not propaganda. And they didn't. The conclusion was arrived at deductively.
Also, you'll notice that the Bolton memo is written so that the next time there is a Video News Release that causes a scandal for being so manipulative and misleading, the White House can turn to an agency head and say, "you assured us your VNRs were purely informational. Now we learn that is not the case!" Chop, chop.
My view: news stories about the government that do not indicate they were prepared by the government, but do look like broadcast quality news programs, are inherently propaganda. If the government is the concealed source, script-writer and producer, the information isn't pure.
One can begin to understand the dominant media's denial of liberal bias, after reflecting on PressThink comments such as the following:
"But there is a difference between an "ideological" bias, and a "fact-based" bias." - P.Lukasiak, March 4, 2005.
perhaps nothing reflects the problems with right-wing criticism of the media better than the above example --- an ideologically neutral statement which is provided as an example of "liberal denial" of liberal bias.
The "fact" is that by the mid-nineties the "welfare system" was a mess, and needed to be reformed, and this was reflected in the reporting of welfare related issues. Just because conservatives were ideologically opposed to welfare did not mean that the press reflected a conservative ideological bias in emphasizing the problems associated with the welfare system.
Those who are not ideologically opposed to welfare, who think that the government should ensure that American citizens have a better standard of living than the residents of a Calcutta ghetto, did not insist that the press provide a "balanced" view of welfare. There was no campaign to get the press to focus on the significant successes of the welfare system --- and conservatives were not complaining that "bias" was the reason why the American people were not fully familiar with the benefits of the welfare system and thus fully supportive of the status quo.
Conservatives didn't complain because the facts supported their ideological biases. And liberals didn't complain because they recognized that the facts were facts, and represented a problem that needed to be dealt with.
That is the defining difference --- when liberals don't like the conclusions that can be drawn from an examination of all the facts, they accept those conclusions anyway. When conservatives don't like the conclusions, they complain of bias, and insist that the media is not providing sufficient coverage of the facts which are consistent with their ideological biases.
The press is losing credibility because it is responsive to the conservative critique. Conservatives want the equivalent of reporting on a foot race that focuses only on the amount of ground covered by their preferred runner, and ignore the fact that the runner is consistently losing ground to the leaders and much of the rest of the field. When the race is over, and the press has to report that the preferred runner came in 6th out of 10 runners, the public is left confused because it doesn't understand what actually happened --- and blames the press for leaving it confused.
Thanks, Jay. Your disagreement with the White House is clearer to me now. You feel that any release which does not identify itself as being from the government *in the release itself* (and not just in the accompanying materials given to the broadcaster) is propaganda, no matter how factual or evenhanded the content might be.
Bolton et al take a different position:
OLC does not agree with GAO that the "covert propaganda" prohibition applies simply because an agency's role in producing and disseminating information is undisclosed or "covert," regardless of whether the content of the message is "propaganda." Our view is that the prohibition does not apply where there is no advocacy of a particular viewpoint, and therefore it does not apply to the legitimate provision of infomation concerning the programs
administered by an agency. This view is supported by the legislative history, which indicates that informing the public of the facts about a federal program is not the type of evil with which Congress was concerned in enacting the "publicity or propaganda" riders.
I'm not entirely convinced by the position that you and the GAO take, but I understand the dangers. In the VNRs in question, the broadcasting outlets were informed of the source but generally did not emphasize it to the viewers. That, I think, can be laid at the feet of the broadcasters.
However - and I suspect this may be part of your worry - those same VNRs might be downloaded from the Web and otherwise circulated. Since visuals have a much greater impact on most people than words, that's a powerful way to get an idea across.
On the agency issue, the memo states:
Agencies are responsible for reviewing their VNRs to ensure that they do not cross the line between legitimate governmental information and improper government-funded advocacy. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions
It might well be that this sets the stage to cut off someone who either makes a bad call or can take the fall for the Administration. OTOH, I wonder how you'd feel if we learned that all press releases from all federal agencies had to be cleared and tweaked by the White House staff. Not a very good precedent, I think.
If someone says, "use this, please" and you do, it is not theft. If you're saying, Tim, that reporters are being lazy and just copying the stuff, so they're responsible when the sh*t gets through to viewers... that is true.
Bradbury is correct. Bolton is wrong. My error.
Anyone can say a VNR is a video "version" of a print press release, and that is an accepted way of describing it. To me, it's basically a fradulent comparison, although I grant: common. I'm in the minority on this, but some agree with me, I hope.
A video news release has an intention to deceive built into it that incorporates what the press release did--mimic the form of a "straight" news story, without the same intention--but extends much further, into a form of public confusion-making that is not, at all, analagous to the press release you would drop in the mail.
Except that the phony comparison is critical to the production of harmlessness, without which the VNR industry would never had gotten off the ground.
The difference between the forms is the insertion of a person (in the cases we are talking about, a play-acting reporter, a Karen Ryan type) who addresses you as someone she actually is not, except she tries in every way to make you think she is, because she wants to be good at her job, and her job is to fake it... to simulate a truer version of herself.
It's okay, everyone on the set thinks, because somewhere else, on another plane of the transaction, in what amounts to a routinized location in the bureaucracy, someone in the government said to someone in the media, "this is fake, she's not really a reporter, she's us, it's the Feds... okay?" "Yeah, yeah, we got it. This one's from the Feds, Charlie."
Because of that person, looking us in the eye and faking it fully about matters of politics and government, and because this form of confusion-making involves true information but false personhood, the VNR is a different kind of human transaction, and thus a different medium, ethically, if you will. There is a different catgeory of ethical puzzle involved.
It's the difference between sending a message and being a message, and therefore it is philosophical, as well.
In normal usage, a Video News Release represents society getting used to a certain amount of deception from its government, willful because Karen Ryan is willfully impersonating and she knows the difference. It goes without saying that the same confusion-making and deception was going on in 1999.
And it's worth taking seriously what McCurry said. He's got hold of something too:
Although the Bush administration is again facing criticism for distributing "video news releases" that mimic independent TV news reports, one prominent Democrat says the media, not the president, should be taking the flak. Democratic and Republican administrations have produced the news releases, called VNRs, former White House press secretary Michael McCurry said. But he said the intent is not to mislead....
McCurry said the media have forced the government to "package" the news, and reporters should "try covering the things that the government really does and report on things that really work instead of assuming that everything is waste, fraud and abuse." Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, said the government has an obligation to identify its VNRs. But she said "the burden is on newsrooms to make sure viewers know where they're getting this material."
I've missed one significant explanation here and in your entry on Minogue for why the role of the Press (meaning the institution) seems to be marginalized:
Reporters no longer actually report what happens, but instead report what someone else says happened. Reporting what someone says requires a cheap, quick telephone call. Reporting what happened requires actually witnessing an event, which, in turn, requires a real and physical gathering of evidence by a reporter, who can't be generating column-inches on other stories while gathering said evidence.
The problem, simply put, is that journalists are viewed by their employers as writers, instead of as reporters of fact. Their output is measured in column inches or stories. Possibly even in words per minute. Not in verified happenings per deadline.
Another, related myth is that of the generalist reporter. Reporters know how to write to deadline. They also are pretty good at getting interview content from reliable sources. Collectively, however, they tend to have a weak grasp of the technical outside of their own professional realm. This is fine when they are reporting presidential antics with cigars and interns, but tends to lead to bubbleheaded oversimplifications (and resultant imprecisions) when confronted with economic policy, law, science, or technology reporting. Of course, there's no incentive toward more accurate reporting, because it would require expensive education - Law degrees - among most others - cost noticeably more than Journalism degrees in the job market.
Likewise, the supposed internal review system of editorship fails, because the editor used to be a reporter, and is unlikely to admit that s/he reported on issues beyond his/her competence as a journalist, or to admit that his/her employees do so.
If all you value is writing, all you'll get is verbiage. You won't get reported fact. And yes, Virginia, facts do exist, postmodernism to the contrary.
As long as "news gathering" organizations are driven to "maximize shareholder value" instead of report what's going on, they'll continue to take this basic shortcut, because it's so much cheaper. And we'll continue to get "he said, she said" over air and in print in the place of the newspaper and the news broadcast.
I wonder whether it would be possible to write a post called: the case for de-certification?
Jay, perhaps one way to start is by looking at the earlier case for "certification". If we start with Burke's comment about the Fourth Estate as reported by Carlyle, I see three elements: the reporters able to view Parliamentary debates from the balcony (access, but open to the public as well), a printing press (means of distribution) and a willingness of others to hear.
For a very long time, access and distribution were expensive and difficult. Hence the rise of professional journalists employed by those who owned the means of distribution of information, i.e. newspapers and magazines. And since the sources of information were limited, they tended to gain a willing audience.
The rise of digital technologies changed all three factors. Access can at least in part occur remotely and asynchronously - I can download streaming video of a news story or audio from a radio broadcast and pay attention at my convenience. And of course, that video or audio can now be generated directly by, say the White House, or by a "citizen journalist" as well as by a paid reporter.
Distribution clearly has changed, as evidenced by blogs and online versions of news media. Finally, so too has the nature, extent and freedom of the willing audience, with the significant rise of broadband communications channels and inexpensive computers (at least in most industrialized countries).
There is a fourth factor not mentioned above, which may be at the heart of the debate here. And that is a claimed expertise to sift through events, choose those which are important and provide analysis and opinion about them. And there's the rub, isn't it?
When, exactly, did journalists come to see themselves as having expertise that suited them for this role? It surely wasn't prior to WWI. Did it start with the dispatches of Churchill and other well-educated members of the upper class who wrote back from their youthful adventures abroad, helping the British empire to understand the forces that were dissolving it?
However it came about, it is a role for which journalists are, arguably, ill prepared in many ways. Or is that a statement that fails to recognize the value that good journalists bring?
In other words, given that technology enables disintermediation in the gathering and distribution of information, what value do (or could, or should) journalists add that allows them to stake out an intermediary role?
I think that without addressing this deep, strong current of technical and market forces, arguments about the Fourth Estate's value for democracy will be frustrating and probably fruitless.
What concerns me is this idea that there is some big white line between "government information" and "government propaganda." Even the most innocuous efforts by the government to "inform" the people contains an element of "pro-government" propaganda (i.e. that the government is benevolent and interested in your welfare.)
And its difficult to imagine those who see "liberal bias" in the media accepting the idea of tax payer dollars funding the creation of VNRs promoting Clinton's accomplishments and agenda (even if they were identified as coming from the government, let alone doing so in an surreptitious manner) and not complaining about "liberal bias" if the media used those VNRs in the way that the Bush regime VNRs have been used.
VNRs, of course, are really only a very small part of the problem with the Bush regime's attempt to control the flow of information. Far more insidious is the manner in which the Bush regime uses the government to spread lies and disinformation, and restrict the dissemination of information that might impede the the accomplishment of ideological or political goals. (The cost estimates for the prescription drug bill are a perfect example. Not only did the administration distort the annual costs of the program by projecting the costs for the first five years in total when the first three years would have no 'costs', they kept the real estimates of those costs from Congress and the public.)
Someone else has pointed out that "decertifying the press" also means decertify the 'conservative press'. But the process also 'decertifies the government'. The press is in the position of constantly playing 'catch up' with the facts (e.g. reporting what the 5 year costs of a prescription drug plan will be, and then having to go back and explain that the costs will be much, much higher) which leads people to doubt not just the press, but the institution of government itself.
Their sentences start like this, "In our system, the press has the role of..." and then they go on to describe journalists as a check on power, which is quasi-Constitutional only because another part of the Constitution, the First Amendment, says you can't lesiglate the role of the press. The Bush Thesis takes the "quasi" part and pushes on it.
Its difficult to imagine why "freedom of speech, and of the press" would be protected unless those freedoms were designed to operate (at least in part) as a check on government. If there are instances in history where political censorship was used to stop people from praising those in power, I'm unaware of them. Thus, I think describing the "job of the press" as "quasi-Constitutional" rather than simply "Constitutional" confuses the issue here. (Its like saying that the power of the courts to interpret the law, and to determine what is "Constitutional" is a "quasi-Constitutional" power. ) The Constitutional role of the press is to inform and criticize those in power. And, during periods of 'one party government' the Constitutional role of the press as a critic of government becomes absolutely essential.
I'm intrigued by plukasiak's suggestion that "decertification of the press" intrinsically carries the risk of "decertification of the government." I think for many such as myself, the systematic distortion/withholding of information/cooking statistics, etc. of the Bush administration takes our breath away and it is the failure to date for this to decertify the Bush administration that forces us to examine how pathologically impotent the current press must be (or alternatively, how close-minded, opposed to the Enlightenment, science, international law, his supporters already are. The PIPA studies suggest that they support a fantasy Bush administration with policies at polar extremes from their actual policies).
This issue points to the way in which decertification of the press is inextricably related to legitimizing government by disinformation. If all sources of correction to Bush disinformation are delegitimized, then maybe it isn't disinformation, maybe it's true. Thus bias discourse, press decertification, and Bush administration decertification are various sides of a single story.
Bush administration decertification of itself IS the ultimate conclusion that stares me in the face. Either way, the decertification of the press is a zero sum game tied to decertification of the administration. BECAUSE SOMEONE IS LYING ON A DAILY BASIS. Alternative ideological universes are not long sustainable.
The remarkable part of the story is that the Bush administration will tell you so and the press can't manage to connect that to news coverage. THAT fact does raise issues about whether or not the press is fit to survive in our current one party environment.
If the press can't even manage to defend or justify itself, where does that leave the rest of us who depend on them for information?
Lastly, when you have been ideologically targeted, neutrality is not an option. The status quo press policy of abject apology or denial that they are themselves both players and targets also decertifies itself by the hour. They are like victims of the Stockhold syndrome trying to make it all better. If only they just report a little more like Fox (see CNN the last three years), it will all go away...In that sense, to the degree that the media and the press have taken a stand, they have moved toward Foxification, thus embracing their own decertification. What will it take for CNN to see the where they are headed?
I'm not sure what Jay means by "loyal oppostion" -- he may mean something based on the European model, where newspapers are not bashful about identifying their political bent.
Or he may be referring to a thought that CJR Daily first published a month ago, redefining the shopworn "MSM" and suggesting the term "loyal oppostion" for another (although sometimes overlapping) group.
In this definition you yourself (and Kilgore Trout, and any number of contributors to this comments thread) are MSM. Here is that post:
February 25, 2005
A CJR Daily Glossary
It occurred to us recently that we've been remiss in adopting, without sufficient thought, certain out-of-date but widely-used terms to describe the shifting media world arrayed before us.
Mainstream News Media, a.k.a. MSM: Usually used by blogosphere zealots on the right and the left as a disparaging reference to a handful of large and supposedly influential newspapers, magazines and TV networks. (And, oddly, enough, a term adopted by those it is meant to describe -- who are fooling themselves, as we shall shortly show.)
But in an age when overall newspaper circulation has been inexorably leaking away year after year for more than 20 years now; when the major network news operations draw barely 50 percent of the nightly audience they once had; and when general interest magazines have been elbowed aside by niche publications, the tag "mainstream" to describe a bunch of bewildered guys 'n dolls who find themselves slipping daily down the razor blade of life seems not just quaint, but missing the point entirely.
We prefer the more accurate term Corporate Media, or CM, since paradoxically many of these floundering outfits are owned by monster corporations whose senior executives must wonder, as they stare at the ceiling at 3 o'clock in the morning, "What was I thinking?" (See Consolidation, Media.)
So is the very term MSM -- meant to describe dinosaurs -- a dinosaur itself?
Not at all. In a nation in which political and cultural conservatives occupy the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court and most statehouses, MSM strikes us as a dead-on description of a more recent phenomenon: The avidly partisan right-wing press, represented in the swelling blogosphere, the small-magazine world, radio networks such as Sinclair Broadcasting and Clear Channel, newspapers such as the Washington Times and the New York Post and, perhaps most importantly, any number of cable television outlets.
So here's our new glossary:
Corporate Media: The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News Network, and any other entity owned by Dow Jones, Gannett, Scripps-Howard, Newhouse, Tribune Co., Cox Newspapers, News Corp., Knight-Ridder, Hearst, Conde Nast, Time Warner, General Electric, Viacom, Disney, Sinclair Broadcasting and Clear Channel. (Apologies, bigtime CEOs, if we left anyone out.)
MSM: See above. The newly triumphant, and most of them quite giddy about it at that.
Loyal Opposition: Any newspaper, blog, website, small magazine or other news/opinion outlet that tries to make its way in that increasingly embattled spectrum that ranges from slightly-to-the-right-of-center to way-left-of-center.
Obviously, there's some overlap. Fox News, for example, is both Corporate Media and the MSM -- the most potent blend of all. The Washington Post, by contrast, is both a Corporate Medium and the Loyal Opposition, a far less formidable combination.
But for the most part, the categories hold up. So we'll try to break old habits, and remain true to the glossary. Let us know when we don't.
Posted 02/25/05 at 10:53 AM
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