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Essay in Columbia Journalism Review on the changing terms of authority in the press, brought on in part by the blog's individual--and interactive--style of journalism. It argues that, after Jayson Blair, authority is not the same at the New York Times, either.

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Town square for press critics, industry observers, and participants in the news machine: Romenesko, published by the Poynter Institute.

Town square for weblogs: InstaPundit from Glenn Reynolds, who is an original. Very busy. Very good. To the Right, but not in all things. A good place to find voices in diaolgue with each other and the news.

Town square for the online Left. The Daily Kos. Huge traffic. The comments section can be highly informative. One of the most successful communities on the Net.

Rants, links, blog news, and breaking wisdom from Jeff Jarvis, former editor, magazine launcher, TV critic, now a J-professor at CUNY. Always on top of new media things. Prolific, fast, frequently dead on, and a pal of mine.

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Novelist, columnist, NPR commentator, Iraq War vet, Colonel in the Army Reserve, with a PhD in literature. How many bloggers are there like that? One: Austin Bay.

Betsy Newmark's weblog she describes as "comments and Links from a history and civics teacher in Raleigh, NC." An intelligent and newsy guide to blogs on the Right side of the sphere. I go there to get links and comment, like the teacher said.

Rhetoric is language working to persuade. Professor Andrew Cline's Rhetorica shows what a good lens this is on politics and the press.

Davos Newbies is a "year-round Davos of the mind," written from London by Lance Knobel. He has a cosmopolitan sensibility and a sharp eye for things on the Web that are just... interesting. This is the hardest kind of weblog to do well. Knobel does it well.

Susan Crawford, a law professor, writes about democracy, technology, intellectual property and the law. She has an elegant weblog about those themes.

Kevin Roderick's LA Observed is everything a weblog about the local scene should be. And there's a lot to observe in Los Angeles.

Joe Gandelman's The Moderate Voice is by a political independent with an irrevant style and great journalistic instincts. A link-filled and consistently interesting group blog.

Ryan Sholin's Invisible Inkling is about the future of newspapers, online news and journalism education. He's the founder of and a self-taught Web developer and designer.

H20town by Lisa Williams is about the life and times of Watertown, Massachusetts, and it covers that town better than any local newspaper. Williams is funny, she has style, and she loves her town.

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing at is a daily review of the best reporting and commentary on the presidency. Read it daily and you'll be extremely well informed.

Rebecca MacKinnon, former correspondent for CNN, has immersed herself in the world of new media and she's seen the light (great linker too.)

Micro Persuasion is Steve Rubel's weblog. It's about how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the business of persuasion. Rubel always has the latest study or article.

Susan Mernit's blog is "writing and news about digital media, ecommerce, social networks, blogs, search, online classifieds, publishing and pop culture from a consultant, writer, and sometime entrepeneur." Connected.

Group Blogs

CJR Daily is Columbia Journalism Review's weblog about the press and its problems, edited by Steve Lovelady, formerly of the Philadelpia Inquirer.

Lost Remote is a very newsy weblog about television and its future, founded by Cory Bergman, executive producer at KING-TV in Seattle. Truly on top of things, with many short posts a day that take an inside look at the industry.

Editors Weblog is from the World Editors Fourm, an international group of newspaper editors. It's about trends and challenges facing editors worldwide. keeps track of developments from the British side of the Atlantic. Very strong on online journalism.

Digests & Round-ups:

Memeorandum: Single best way I know of to keep track of both the news and the political blogosphere. Top news stories and posts that people are blogging about, automatically updated.

Daily Briefing: A categorized digest of press news from the Project on Excellence in Journalism.

Press Notes is a round-up of today's top press stories from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Richard Prince does a link-rich thrice-weekly digest called "Journalisms" (plural), sponsored by the Maynard Institute, which believes in pluralism in the press.

Newsblog is a daily digest from Online Journalism Review.

E-Media Tidbits from the Poynter Institute is group blog by some of the sharper writers about online journalism and publishing. A good way to keep up

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May 1, 2007

Last Week That Man Tried to Run You Over. Why Are You Having Dinner With Him?

"Bush broke with the consensus that created the modern White House press corps. One small but highly symbolic part of the consensus was the Correspondents dinner, and this is why it matters that the New York Times has quit the event."

It’s good news that journalists at the New York Times will no longer participate in the bloated and compromised White House Correspondents Association dinner. Bravo. I await with some curiosity the explanation for what changed in their thinking. So far, nothing.

One possibility: the editors will evade the intricate cultural politics of the matter and settle instead on the dinner’s transformation into a celebrity event, where Hollywood producer Laurie David (guest of CNN) and singer Sheryl Crow (guest of Bloomberg News) can grill Karl Rove on global warming. Rove, who was himself an invited guest of the New York Times! “The entire evening had the surrealistic feel of a Salvador Dali movie,” said Arianna Huffngton.

It’s a lot easier to say the event has gone Hollywood than it is to engage with Frank Rich’s argument at TimesSelect: “for all the recrimination, self-flagellation and reforms that followed” from the collapse and ruin of the watchdog press under Bush, “it’s far from clear that the entire profession yet understands why it has lost the public’s faith.” The dinner, he wrote, “is a crystallization of the press’s failures in the post-9/11 era.”

“It wasn’t just this year’s entertainment that had the faint whiff of mothballs,” David Carr wrote in a Times column the Monday after. The dinner itself “only seemed to emphasize the distance between Washington and the rest of the country.”

I asked Carr if he thought Dean Baquet, the Times Washington bureau chief, was reacting to his column. Carr said no. “He attended, he did his own reporting, and he reached his own conclusions. He has been in the business in a leadership role for decades and he is in a position to make a judgment about the dinner’s appropriateness for our Washington bureau.” (UPDATE: The explanations from the Times came in. See this piece and this one. Bill Keller: “These events create a false perception that reporters and their sources are pals, and that perception clouds our credibility. It’s not worth it.”)

Two weeks ago, Jim Rutenberg, a Times correspondent in the Washington bureau, interviewed me about the upcoming Correspondents dinner and in particular the choice of 70’s-era comedian, Rich Little, after last year’s funny man, Stephen Colbert, held the press and president—and the dinner itself—up to extremely effective ridicule. This is not the opinion of the journalists who were there, of course, Rutenberg included. In his view Colbert “just wasn’t funny.”

Rutenberg’s article made me wish I had followed, in this instance, blogger Dave Winer’s policy. When asked for a phone or e-mail interview, he usually declines. “If you have a few questions, send them along, and if I have something to say, I’ll write a blog post, which of course you’re free to quote,” he said last week. Responding to Winer, and to this event with Jason Calacanis and Wired magazine, Jeff Jarvis wrote: “The interview is outmoded and needs to be rethought.”

I know I’m rethinking it. Rutenberg and I had a pretty detailed conversation about the put down of the establishment press under Bush, certain failures of imagination in Washington journalism, the interpretation of Colbert’s performance in 2006, and the “musty” feel that the invitation to Rich Little had. I pointed out, for example, that Little was at his peak at roughly the same cultural moment that the Washington press corps was at its peak in the afterglow of Watergate.

But what Jim needed me for was the bloggers vs. journalists debate. “In hiring an impersonator practiced in an old-school approach to comedy, meant to entertain but not offend, the White House Correspondents’ Association has, however, provoked left-leaning political activists, who see his assignment as a retreat from last year’s dinner.” (Subtext: Wow, the left is as angry with the press as the right was. Just listen to the so-called Net roots attack us for not carrying their message.)

Notice that it is “activists” who are upset with the White House press, and it is their conflict with civil, professional and reasonable journalists that creates friction enough for a story. I wanted nothing to do with that narrative. I told Rutenberg that I did not see the press as “in the pocket of Bush” (as many on the left do) but as overwhelmed by the phenomena of Bush-as-president, and by the radicalism of his Administration, especially the expansion of executive power. This included in one aspect the rollback of the press and its de-certification as questioner of the president.

But Rutenberg recruited me into his narrative anyway. Colbert wasn’t the first comic to insult the president, he wrote. “Imus angered the Clinton White House in 1996 when he made fun of Mr. Clinton as a philanderer at a Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner.”

But that was pre-blogosphere, which is populated by people who “feel that the press was run over, and kind of told itself some story to avoid confrontation and lapsed into a phony kind of balance,” said Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University.

It is enough to make some reporters bristle. “Some of them seem to want us to hate the people we cover,” said Ken Herman, a White House correspondent for Cox Newspapers and an association board member. “They don’t seem to understand that you can have a professional relationship with them where you don’t hate them, and you can sometimes talk to them, and maybe have dinner with them.”

Herman’s “bristle” has nothing to do with what I think. But I was not misquoted. I was used to make a point Rutenberg wanted to make before he talked to me. As Dan Froomkin wrote the same day, “Rutenberg creates a false conflict. Rosen and Herman are both largely correct. The press has been played by this White House — but that doesn’t mean reporters have to be jerks.”

Still, Rutenberg didn’t violate any of the rules for interviewing sources, and I knew what I was getting into when I called him back. Reporter and I talk for 30 to 45 minutes; he decides which twelve seconds he wants to use. If he has a pre-existing narrative that he wants me to ratify, chances are good I will say something he can use to do just that. Them’s the rules.

I would have been better off blogging about his e-mailed questions. As Scott Rosenberg observed last week, “In the online conversation, the reporter doesn’t get the last word. And the reporter doesn’t get to filter which parts of the conversation are available to the public. No wonder journalists want to stick with the phone. But I think it’s going to keep getting harder for them to get their sources to take the calls.” (See also Brad DeLong’s view.)

The most revealing moment for me came when Rutenberg allowed that rollback and the retreat from empiricism may have happened. “But don’t you think Bush is paying the price for that now?” he said. Here was a way of acknowledging press failure that allows the story to come out all right at the end. Presidents are supposed to pay a price if they diss the press, and look! …The system worked.

In fact, Bush broke with the consensus that created the modern White House press corps. One small but highly symbolic part of the consensus was the Correspondents dinner, and this is why it matters that the New York Times has quit the event.

But consider what Bush quit first. His chief of staff denied that there was any fourth estate role. “In our democracy, the people who represent the public stood for election,” said Andrew Card. “I don’t believe you have a check-and-balance function.” Bush told reporters the same thing at an August 2003 barbeque in Texas: “You’re assuming that you represent the public,” he said, “I don’t accept that.”

Back ‘em up, starve ‘em down, and drive up their negatives— that was the policy. Allies in the culture war were eager to help the White House marginalize and discredit the Washington press. In Scott McClellan, a stooge figure actually took over in the White House press room. Strategic non-communication became normal practice— itself an extraordinary break with the past. Meanwhile, Dick Cheney’s expansion of executive power meant there was way more to cover, but a weaker press to cover it. Just as there was weaker oversight, weaker opposition, and a fewer controls on cooking the books.

What happened with me and Rutenberg happened also with “Frontline” in its series, News War. I was interviewed for hours by correspondent Lowell Bergman. I wound up with one line in the film— okay two. “The way that the press was sold and spun and just fooled by the White House in the run-up to the war represents more than just a missed story,” I said in part one. “How can one say that we have a watchdog press after a performance like that?”

I was supposed to be gratified by those two lines. Well, I wasn’t. I was grateful that Frontline released on the Web an edited transcript of my interview. But watching the film that aired on PBS made me regret that I had cooperated at all. I told that to executive producer Louis Wiley in an e-mail exchange we had after it aired. I said my frustrations weren’t about seconds of air time; it was…

The way the film was edited to bring out one story: heroic press fighting against ownership and its budget cuts, a government that would like to silence it, and untrained bloggers and amateurs buzzing around, stinging like knats. This is the story Lowell wanted to tell. He’s been a part of it in his career and feels very passionate about it. He’s newsroom Joe himself, and he’s got newsroom Joe’s mindset. You let that perspective carry the day. You’re entitled to make that decision, which is an editorial decision, and I’m entitled to be angry about it. Because it’s inadequate. You had the materials to challenge it more, you just didn’t want to.

I always loved it when Victor Navasky, editor, then publisher of The Nation would explain to journalists or J-students that, in his opinion, there was an ideology of the left (journalists nod) an ideology of the right (more nodding) and an ideology of the center. Not so much nodding at that.
“The press is full of ideologues of the center,” he would say, eyes twinkling, ice cubes clinking. “But they all deny it.” And that’s when the fun started.

For while it’s defensible to have a “centrist” ideology and be a reporter or editor, the journalists who would argue most strenuously with Navasky had a different proposition: theirs was an ideology-free zone. They wouldn’t defend their politics; instead they would proclaim their innocence. Instead of thinking about it… ideologues of the center: do I recognize the type?… they just reacted.

Over time I realized the genius in Navasky’s method of needling journalists. He was trying to show them a gap in their educations. They were unable to think politically about their own institution, but they could go on for quite a while about the separation between news and opinion sections.

Posted by Jay Rosen at May 1, 2007 1:11 AM   Print


The White House Correspondents Association dinner has been a despicable event for a long time -- an evening of sychophants and apparatchniks pandering to one another.

It's good that Dean Baquet (or Bill Keller, or whomever) has cut the Times loose from it.

Too bad that they're 25 years late. But they can't be blamed for that; they weren't in charge 25 years ago.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at May 1, 2007 9:40 AM | Permalink

I don't see the NYT move as a step in the right direction. On the contrary. And it's not going to help restore media credibility with the public. It's just a fake move that tries to amp up the fake adversarial relationship between the well paid old school media and the Washington establishment. What people want to see is civility, and the dinner was a symbol of an attempt at that. The NYT move is akin to prosecutors and defense attorneys continuing their battles outside the courtroom. That's never pretty.

Posted by: dreaming at May 1, 2007 10:03 AM | Permalink

The part of your message that resonates for me is that the GWB Administration, not just GWB, has attempted to politicize key aspects of government (DOJ) and normal public discourse in Washington. The highly biased position taken and pursued by this Administration is a political disaster and the issue of the Correspondents Dinner only illustrates the phoniness of the situation today.

Many high profile journalists really don't get it. They continue to say that only they understand how journalism is done (ie, Michael Gordon and Judith Miller).

Tony Snow is a clever fellow but he is just a slicker version of Scott McLellan. Snow's tone deafness highlights that this Administration has profound contempt for real public interest in open discourse about the actions and policies of the US government.

Posted by: Robert Gagnon at May 1, 2007 11:30 AM | Permalink

Robert Gagnon.
You are presuming, as many journalists do, that the press is a useful and objective conduit for the discussion.
Many disagree on the "public" end of the discussion. If that were not the case, the putative WH endrunning of the press would be useless. Reagan was good at it. The press didn't like him, either.
If the press were more trusted by the public, the WH's efforts would be less effective.
Work on the trust. Complaining about the WH's treatment of the press is useless because there's nothing you can do about it from that end. You can only make it useless by proving yourselves to the public end of the discussion, by regaining trust.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 1, 2007 11:43 AM | Permalink


I think your bias is showing. No, I don't think you're particularly partisan or left leaning, but I do think your view of the media is hopelessly slanted towards the inside.

Many of us who are far more intimate with Iraq and our war against terrorists [not to be called the Global War on Terror] know better that the great failing of the media occurred after the war in Iraq started, not before. Today's journalists are woefully ignorant of military matters, refuse to think they need to learn about our enemies or the real threats against us. They clearly went along with public opinion at war's start against their internal biases against military action or the Bush Administration. I don't know if that's so much a failing as an inevitability. The media has some watchdog role, but it never needed to be antagonistic towards national interest. (Or some twisted conception of "neutral.")

Since the war started, media grossly misreported on everything from a one day sandstorm on the road to Baghdad, to what elements were fighting where and for what, through Abu Ghraib.

As the Democrats chose to posture against the war they supported, and public support flagged, then the media misreported everything from pre-war intelligence, state-CIA-Admin-DoD bureacratic infighting, and any positive accomplishments in Iraq. All in assist to defeat a President they disliked, often intensely.

Worst of all, the media constantly misreported -- lied -- about the infamous State of the Union speech, claims that the war would be quick and easy, justifications for the war, in short: completely fabricated the basis for "Bush Lied us into War" BS. Tenet's book, if little else, should put that garbage to rest, but it won't.

And the media continues to get it wrong. Oh, once in a while they'll hype some retired or disgruntled General who will harp on some deficiency or error in judgment or planning, all of course to back up a claim of "I told them so."

Meanwhile, military leaders today -- and thousand upon thousands of veterans who have served -- can't even make it into print or broadcast with any views contrary to the "civil war in Iraq" orthodoxy. Facts that refute the storyboard get dumped, if not by reporters then by editors. Only on the fringes of Conservative press can you find any semblance of balance in reporting on Iraq.

Perhaps most dishonest of all, the press continues to hype storylines that portray aggressive expansions of Executive Branch powers, when in fact these same expansions were widespread under Clinton, often in exactly the same or related ways. To suggest that the often hapless Bush Administration is somehow more nefarious in this regard vs previous Presidents suits the storyline, but does an injustice to the arch-Macheavelian Clinton.

Context. Background. Stop assuming that your world view is the only possible or logical one.

You touched a nerve, Jay. But I'm with other commentators here. If the media continues to ignore the true nature of their own role in coming obsolescence, you're all doomed to continue to slide into oblivion. And as much as you all may commiserate and blame that "bastard Bush," you sound to the rest of us like that loser boyfriend on Forrest Gump. The one who hits Jenny, and when confronted with his bad behavior, stammers out the excuse that "it's that bastard Johnson."

I count on you for better analysis and insight than this.

Posted by: dadmanly at May 1, 2007 1:10 PM | Permalink

Sorry, damanly. I have no reply to any of that, in as much as we're on opposite sides of the moon, but am curious to learn your opinion: should the press keep going to the White House correspondents dinner?

My view is in the title. Last Week That Man Tried to Run You Over. Why Are You Having Dinner With Him? Is it your view that Bush should be having a jolly dinner of mutual joshing with the press...?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at May 1, 2007 3:03 PM | Permalink

Jay. On your side of the moon do you dispute dadmanly's description of the press' failures, or do you acknowledge them but consider them legitimate?
And, if the latter, how do you intend to deal with the people out here who know better?

Sure. The NYT's folks should go to the party. It doesn't cost them anything and the gesture of not going impresses nobody.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 1, 2007 3:17 PM | Permalink

I think the Times quitting the WH correspondents' dinner, although not widely reported, will hurt the Times more than the WH. It confirms the narrative that the NYT is opposed to this administration, and not the neutral observers they are supposed to be. However, I imagine that they will quietly return when a Democrat is in the WH.

More interesting, though, is the thought contained in Jay's Navasky anecdote. Should journalists BE neutral or should they just report neutrally? The myth of objective reporting and the attempted distinction between a reporter's personal political views and the views expressed in his reporting have given journalists leave to be more active in the political world. They get to have their cake and eat it too. With the journalist class overwhelmingly of one political stripe this structure is clearly breaking down. I wonder if in an earlier age reporters were in fact more politically neutral. I do recall them being much more reticent about expressing personal political views. I don't think the resolution will be to replace journalists with neutral people, but it would be nice if we could get on with the dropping of the objectivity charade, revealing of the monolithic newsroom viewpoint, understanding of the effects it has on quality of journalism and profits, and adding (or amplifying) of other voices to balance it out. This is happening but its process makes glaciation seem recklessly quick.

Posted by: Roger Rainey at May 1, 2007 4:56 PM | Permalink

I don't want to see civility when it comes to dealing with a fascist White House. And before you dismiss that as a rant, look up the dictionary definition of fascism and see if it applies. If you still think it doesn't, then you'll just have to settle for authoritarian. Sounds more polite, but it means the same thing. This is not what the United States or democracy are all about.

No self-respecting journalist would be caught dead at a function hosted by this White House regime. Whether the Bush administration actually lied to get us into the Iraq War is irrelevant. The undisputable fact is that they certainly cheerled us into the Iraq War every step of the way, and it's equally clear that this was a completely unnecessary, and thus immoral, war. Not to mention almost guaranteed to produce precisely the opposite of its intended results (with the exception of removing Hussein from power--the easy part).

And let's not forget the countless laws, treaty provisions, and constitutional clauses and amendments flagrantly violated by these thugs. But I guess destroying America in order to save it makes perfect sense to those on the delusional right.

Repeat after me: Fascism is just as bad as communism. We don't want either one in America.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 1, 2007 5:00 PM | Permalink

Frank Rich must be using "Jason Spicer" as a screen name.

Posted by: qcexaminer at May 1, 2007 5:19 PM | Permalink

You know the joke about the shark refusing to eat the lawyer out of professional courtesy? That's what politics and journalism look like today. Way too few journalists and politicians are willing to stand on principle and decry an outrage. Unless it's in the other party. This is nonsense, of course. An outrage is an outrage.

Journalists would garner the respect they are pining for by daring to be matter of fact about the emperor's nakedness. Deferring to a corrupt and immoral White House just makes you a quisling. Politicians would gain far more votes than they would lose if they'd show some spine in the face of this creeping police-statism.

Voters want to be inspired. I can think of nothing more inspiring than standing up to totalitarianism. Pretending this White House just holds a respectable difference of opinion is like pretending the shark isn't hungry.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 1, 2007 6:22 PM | Permalink

It boggles the mind that the Jason Spicers of the world allege fascism, totalitarianism, authoritarianism, etc, in the US, at the same time as they freely run around with their Bush Lied t-shirts, their preferred legislators agitate openly for impeachment, their perky entertainers poke administration bigwigs in the chest while lecturing them and the vast majority of newspapers in the land are populated by opposition figures. It then reaches the height of hypocrisy that these people oppose (or at best are ambivalent towards) the administration's efforts to stamp out real fascism, totalitarianism and authoritarianism. It is myopia of worldview in the extreme.

Posted by: Roger Rainey at May 1, 2007 6:37 PM | Permalink

Question is, is Spicer a journalist?

He's like the teenager who tells his parents what jerks they are and then demands to be taken to the mall.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 1, 2007 6:49 PM | Permalink

Nonsense, Roger. Myopia is assuming that you can bomb people into being civilized. Myopia is working hard to eradicate radicalism elsewhere by radicalizing the White House. Extreme myopia is working hard to eradicate radicalism elsewhere by inflaming it everywhere. Becoming fascist to fight fascism is no victory.

And let's be very clear about what impeachment is. It is not a vote of no confidence. It is a criminal proceeding invoked when the President (and Vice President) break laws. When they are criminals. As Bush and Cheney so clearly are. (Unless you have the odd idea that laws, treaties, and the constitution are merely advisory.) Only your fear of the bin Ladens of the world keeps you from seeing this. Or maybe caring about it, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

What's mind-boggling is that the Roger Raineys of the world are so willing to disregard such flagrant violations of the law in the ham-handed pursuit of villians around the world. Do such villians exist? Of course! Do I want to see Bin Laden's head on a pike? Of course! I just want to see this happen without destroying democracy in order to achieve it. I think that's possible. It's sad that you don't.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 1, 2007 6:52 PM | Permalink

More like the teenager who recognizes that his parents are heinous criminals and turns them in. I don't believe I asked for any sort of reward. Other than, you know, democracy taking a step back from the abyss.

I believe in giving people, including presidents, the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any doubt about this president for several years now. It's really quite unfathomable that anybody is willing to cut him any additional slack.

I'm not a journalist, but I know what I admire in journalism. I figured I'd weigh in with that. But as we have already seen, I may be too much given to democratic impulses.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 1, 2007 6:59 PM | Permalink

Google "Compulsive Centrist Disorder"...

Posted by: coturnix at May 1, 2007 7:59 PM | Permalink

another interesting comments discussion ruined by a moonbat... tata

Posted by: Roger Rainey at May 1, 2007 8:09 PM | Permalink

Unlike Roger, I will actually argue with Jason, as I think you raise interesting and valid points, which are a bit more nuanced then you imply.

I would like you to be more specific about which laws the Bush Administration has violated. I will assume you are referring to the wiretapping program, the use of presidential signing statements, the violation of the Geneva conventions, the faulty intelligence in the run-up to the war in Iraq, or War crimes in Iraq.

The wiretapping of Americans without a warrant may be constitutional, though arguments for such are very tenuous (but we will assume for the sake of argument that it is). On the other hand, it is in direct violation of the FISA act. While some republicans argue that the authorization for the war in Afghanistan over-rode the FISA act, this is very shaky. Nevertheless, even if this is accepted, it still does not give him cover, because any interpretation of the authorization that gives Bush the ability to wiretap without a warrant also gives him the authority to do clearly unconstitutional things, such as summary execution of American citizens. As the law gives the president carte-blanch authority, it is clearly unconstitutional. Therefore, the FISA law still holds.

On the other hand, Clinton and Reagan also engaged also wiretapped without warrants, though not anywhere near as often. If we were to jail Bush for this reason, we would need to arrest Clinton, and several hundred military and intelligence officials who were complicit. I personally support this position, but I doubt many others do.

Basic knowledge of 7th grade civics dictates that signing statements are clearly illegal, as the president dictates that he refuses to enforce a law in a certain capacity, a clear violation of his constitutional duties. George Bush has used signing statements, but so has Bill Clinton. It is true that George Bush has signed far more than Bill Clinton has, but this is irrelevant. Both of them are criminals, and if we are to arrest one, we should arrest the other.

It is questionable whether the US violated the Geneva Conventions, in a strict legal sense. The US ratified the third Geneva Convention in 1949. To my knowledge, this convention contains no reference to insurgencies or terrorism. Additions to the protocol to give rights to “non-conventional fighters”, “Non-enemy combatants” as the US likes to call them, were added in 1979, additions that the US has refused to ratify. While I personally support the ratification of these provisions, they are not in legal force in the USA. By all accounts, the US treated the Iraqi army well. This was the only party the Geneva conventions applied to. While you may be able to pin Bush on violating national laws for Army conduct, these are usually ridden with “national security” holes he can hide behind. While Bush’s actions regarding were clearly wrong, they were most likely not illegal.

In a similar vein, the Bush administration probably lied to the American people in order to trick them into going to war, the documentary evidence for such is rather overwhelming. But lying is not illegal if it was not done under oath. It might be possible to prosecute Bush on something akin to Slander, but any lawyer worth their salt could squirm their way out of that.

The last respite is international law. George Bush’s actions in Iraq arguably targeted civilians purposely; the Shock and Awe campaign is a good example of this. This is a war crime, under both The Hague and Geneva conventions. War crime law is rather expansive, if poorly enforced, so if needed we could most likely find many violations. The problem with this is that there are many far worse war criminals in the US who would be implicated by this standard. These include but are not limited to Russia, Israel (I am a second generation Israeli Jew, I am allowed to say this.), Hezbollah, Belarus, Burma, China, Sudan, and Iraqi insurgents themselves. I am not placing these groups on the same level, I am simply pointing out that all of them are more worthy of war crime prosecution than the United States. It would be hypocritical to prosecute the US and to leave these other groups untouched by international law.

Even if such a trial were to happen, it would cast a wider net than Bush. Under the Nuremburg standards set out after WW2, most members of congress who continued to vote in favor of the war and its funding would be considered co-conspirators to crimes against humanity. Thousands of military and civilian employees, and nearly all of the intelligence service, would face the same fate.

As you said yourself, impeachment is not a “vote of confidence” procedure. The case for Bush’s criminality is not clear-cut. Many other politicians have done every crime that he has unquestionably committed with impunity, and it would be impractical to prosecute the entire political elite.

Posted by: David Shor at May 2, 2007 2:26 AM | Permalink

Berkeley economics professor and former Clinton Administration official Brad Delong at his blog...

Jay Rosen should have listened to Brad DeLong and Susan Rasky's First Rule for Sources: Know Your Customers:

Nieman Watchdog > Commentary > Twelve things economists need to remember to be helpful journalistic sources: 1. Know your customers. Is the journalist... looking for a broadcast soundbite, for two paragraphs of context, or help in understanding... [the issues]? Is she on a tight deadline?...

If the journalist is looking for a particular quote, figure out whether you want to be the person who gives that quote--and if not, get off the phone. If the journalist is looking for two paragraphs that can be dropped into the story as "experts say the real issues are..." give the journalist your best two paragraphs quickly. If the journalist is looking to educate him or herself, you can have a conversation--but at the start reserve the right to approve whatever quotes they want in the end to use, so that you can be sure that they are quotes you are comfortable giving.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at May 2, 2007 8:52 AM | Permalink

Sorry folks, but attempting to ad hominem Jason out of this discussion just because he is expressing opinions is just pure intellectual laziness.

"Question is, is Spicer a journalist?"
The question is irrelevant to the discussion. It is at best a snark.

"It boggles the mind that the Jason Spicers of the world allege fascism, totalitarianism, authoritarianism, etc, in the US, at the same time as they freely run around with their Bush Lied t-shirts, their preferred legislators agitate openly for impeachment, their perky entertainers poke administration bigwigs in the chest while lecturing them and the vast majority of newspapers in the land are populated by opposition figures. It then reaches the height of hypocrisy that these people oppose (or at best are ambivalent towards) the administration's efforts to stamp out real fascism, totalitarianism and authoritarianism. It is myopia of worldview in the extreme."
Take away the ad hominems and what do we have? Almost diddly squat in terms of a substantive argument. If the majority of newspapers in the land are populated by opposition figures, I am not seeing much evidence of that surfacing in the form of the way that news articles are being constructed and published. Many news outlets are still failing in basic fact-checking, and other elementary activities that fall under the general category of "due diligence". In the case of network television, I still see people on screen who appear to be adherents to the old tabloid publication principle that one should never let the facts get in the way of a good story...

"He's like the teenager who tells his parents what jerks they are and then demands to be taken to the mall."
This analogy is so faulty I don't know where to start. He was simply expressing the opinion (albeit trenchantly) that journalists should not be acting as uncritical mouthpieces for an administration that, in his opinion, is busy undermining the U.S. Constitution. Given that the administration works for the people, I fail to see the relevance of any parent-child analogy here.

Posted by: Graham Shevlin at May 2, 2007 9:57 AM | Permalink

G. S. The reason to not engage with Jason is that he is wrong. He's not wrong on just the details. He's wrong on the big issues. Arguing with him would be the equivalent of a book--per issue--while he squirmed and twisted and did things to the English language which are strictly forbidden in Leviticus.
It would be fruitless.
There are two possibilities: One is that he believes himself, which is to say, against the evidence. If he has managed to resist reality to this extent, another dose wouldn't do much good. The other possibility is that he knows he's peddling smoke--probably as a matter of BDS--and is therefore not honestly promoting an argument. To engage in argument is to imply that one is open to changing one's mind if the facts require. When, as Saul Alinsky urged, you argue just to wear out your opponents and have no intention of actually listening, the implication is false. A lie, in other words.
So Jason is not worth the time.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 2, 2007 11:04 AM | Permalink

Jay --

I detect a contradiction (to put it charitably) between your attitude towards being quoted by the press and your attacks on the President for holding a similar attitude.

Why can't the President come to the same conclusion as you -- that he doesn't want his words twisted to suit a reporter's pre-conceived narrative, especially when that narrative is anathema to his beliefs?

Posted by: Neuro-conservative at May 2, 2007 1:02 PM | Permalink

Well, thanks for taking the time, then, Richard. And if you're using Leviticus as your guide, it's not me that's detached from reality. (What's BDS?)

There are mountains of evidence on my side, almost all of it provided openly by the shameless Bush administration itself. They don't seem to know right from wrong, so they don't even bother to cover their actions to any great extent.

Their violations of FISA are probably the best current criminal case. And while it's certainly true that other presidents and officials have committed similar crimes, the sheer volume of the Bush assault on the Constitution and various other laws is breathtaking.

Here is a president that arrogantly and openly refuses to abide by laws he doesn't care much for, and practically dares anybody to do anything about it. If that isn't a violation of his oath of office, pure treason, and clear cause for impeachment, then impeachment is meaningless, and in fact, we have a new monarchy, if only partially hereditary.

I agree with David Shor that Bush has a lot of wiggle room on any particular charge. But again, there are simply so many to choose from, and so many counts of each, it's hard to imagine that articles of impeachment would be either short or wholly unsuccessful upon adequate investigation. David's list pretty much captures the charges I have in mind, though I suspect a review of the UN Charter on Human Rights would net a few more.

Also, the PATRIOT Act, itself clearly unconstitutional in most provisions, has been something the administration is proud of using. As it overturns the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments (at least), it seems pretty clear that almost any use of it against a US citizen violates Bush's oath of office.

While I'm sure Bush/Cheney think they are working in the best interests of the United States, it's hard to understand how any results-based review could conclude that they are not, in fact, working against the best interests of the United States. Isn't that the definition of treason?

They're getting US troops killed in a way that only serves to create additional terrorists from people who would otherwise not take that course. They're isolating the US from our friends and allies around the globe. They're embracing the tools of dictatorship, such as "disappearing" people, torturing people, imprisoning people without charge or counsel for indefinite periods. These are all profoundly unAmerican activities. Our traditional abhorrence of these things has always been the basis of our moral authority in the world. Take them away, and we're no better than the regimes we oppose.

It's true, as Roger Rainey pointed out, that I and others like me are still free to spout our opposition to the administration, but I prefer to see that as speaking out while there's still time to make a difference. If we wait until the fascists finally resort to brutal suppression of dissent, then it's far too late.

Besides, why brutally suppress the opposition when you can use propaganda to brand them as crackpots? This strategy seems to be persuasive to at least some on this thread.

The bottom line is that I don't want to live in a police state. George W. Bush has done far more harm to the fabric of America than Osama bin Laden could ever hope to. Bush is bin Laden's unwitting tool in the destruction of American ideals.

And thanks to Graham Shevlin for the defense. I reread my comments above and also can't quite figure out how they were so interpreted by Messrs. Aubrey and Rainey.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 2, 2007 1:54 PM | Permalink

Jason. I'll explain the Leviticus reference. Leviticus tells us, among other things, certain things you're not to do to or with animals.
Don't do them to words, logic, or facts, either.
Other than that, adios.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 2, 2007 10:40 PM | Permalink

145 years ago, Jason Spicer would have been considered a Copperhead Democrat. 55 years ago, he would have been aligned with Sen. Robert "Mr. Republican" Taft.

Posted by: Tim at May 2, 2007 11:50 PM | Permalink

No self-respecting journalist would be caught dead at a function hosted by this White House regime.

I beg to differ. The original function of these dinners was akin to that of a "cease-fire" --- a recognition of the essential humanity of "the other side." A self-respecting journalist like Murray Waas should feel free to attend this kind of dinner.

The problem is that the press no longer respects itself (an over-weening sense of self-importance is not the same as self-respect.) The WHPC dinner has become just one more stop on the DC coctail circuit that most of these media types inhabit on an regular basis.

semi-off topic, but I was struck by Jay's description of how journalists (notably Rutenberg, and I've had a similar experience with him) often start with a narrative, then go out and interview people and selectively quote them in a way that fits the preconcieved narrative of the "journalist."

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 3, 2007 12:15 AM | Permalink


Taking steps to avoid that is referred to as rolling back the press. Bad, bad rolling-back people

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 3, 2007 8:11 AM | Permalink

Taking steps to avoid that is referred to as rolling back the press. Bad, bad rolling-back people

apples and oranges, Richard.

What Jay describes is the practice of journalists spending a significant amount of time interviewing someone in order to get a quote to suit their pre-determined narrative -- while treating the rest of the interview as non-existent.

Administration figures seldom make themselves available to reporters for long on-the-record interviews from which the reporters can "cherry pick" an out of context quote and dump it in the middle of a story to reinforce their pre-determined narrative.

The administration's "roll back" isn't because of fear that quotes will be cherry-picked, its an effort to restrict the flow of information to Americans via the press -- to impose its own pre-determined narrative on the public "fix the facts" to conform to the policy.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 3, 2007 9:11 AM | Permalink

p. lukasiak.

That line would work better if the entire press conference was not so often on C-Span, later to be compared to the MSM's treatment.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 3, 2007 11:24 AM | Permalink

Jay, it MUST be be the food... D.

Posted by: Delia at May 3, 2007 12:32 PM | Permalink

This entire discussion is idiotic. Right off the top I can think of at three "journalists" who are married to political operatives: Brownstein, Dee Dee Myers, Campbell Brown, (maybe Nagourney, I can't remember) etc. etc.---there are many more.

The NYTimes is engaging in political posturing. I'm sure, even as we speak, at least one of the NYTimes reporters is bonking "gasp" a GOP operative(that Democrats and the MSM are now, and have been for decades in bed is not disputed---no less than Bill Clinton confirmed it).

Not to mention journalists from other organizations who did not have sexual relations with that Republican----oh, nevermind.

But the Holiest of Holy New York Times can't attend a freakin' dinner. The lesson learned here is that sex with Republicans (or political operatives of either party) is OK, just not dinner.

Yeah, sure, just wait until there is a Dem in the WH, then all will be forgiven.

What a bunch of hypocrites!

Posted by: qcexaminer at May 3, 2007 1:39 PM | Permalink

The general disgust I feel for the White House Correspondents' Dinner--which is accurately reflected in Jay's discussion of the bizarre inability of the DC Press Corps to cope with Stephen Colbert in a manner recognizable to anyone other than themselves and the even more pathetic programming of Rich Little--is largely a product of what I consider to be the press's consistent failure to do their job over the last thirty years. This is certainly a failure that has risen to newly catastrophic levels over the last six years of a self-proclaimed unitary executive essentially attempting to proclaim democracy unconstitutional.

If the press could ever reestablish credibility, a passing interest in actual truth rather than he said/she said journalism, whether or not they went to the dinner really wouldn't matter much would it?

Sadly, there is no imminent danger of that happening. Unless and until the DC press can swear off White House courtier practices such as continuing to protect anonymous administration sources who have demonstrably lied to the American people, perhaps ceasing to pay court in public is an appropriate cosmetic adjustment. If not truly satisfying or particularly furthering the people's business in the way that doing their jobs better would be, it is at least a minimal recognition that something is wrong somewhere. I suppose cosmetic baby steps are better than no steps at all.

A small example that has recently been reported on the mainstream networks illustrates the point and largely confirms what Media Matters among many others have been blogging for years:
Bill O'Reilly claims he never makes ad hominem personal attacks on people. A recent study at the University of Indiana reviewed dozens of episodes of his talking points memo segment and discovered that he insulted a group and referred to them as bad Americans approximately every seven seconds he is on the air. Why does the University of Indiana have to issue a study for the issue of fact to arise in journalistic coverage of our world?

A great number of the screaming falsehoods spouted by this administration are really at this very basic level of true or not true. Journalism that routinely commented on facts based on Google searches or what their own eyes tell them would be a revolution in integrity from what we have now.

Sadly, the average DC press equivalent of the above story on Bill O'Reilly if it had been written about the White House goes, "Democrats have recently claimed the White House personally insults opponents and cries treason dangerously demonizing others, but when reached for comment, the White House firmly denied the charge, stating without qualification that they never speak of anyone in a personally disparaging way."

The reporter could, on their own, ask the question: Who is telling the truth here?

It's not very hard for to look at video of Bush administration pronouncements (such as when Dana Perino claimed the other day that they've never played the patriotism card!) and tell that they patently contradict themselves on a daily basis (hence the Daily Show), but for some reason it is very difficult for many reporters to realize it or to get printed when they do.

Why is the truth of the Daily Show so difficult for reporters to understand? When did a healthy attention span and rudimentary logic and self-respect become partisan virtues the press must keep at arms length?

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 3, 2007 4:36 PM | Permalink

Mark Anderson nails it. If CNN would simply and routinely do what the Daily Show does, ie, show clips of an official's contradictory statements back-to-back, that would be an enormous step forward in journalism, with nearly zero extra effort. Why do journalists go along with the charade?

Why only the Daily Show does this is beyond me. If NBC/CBS/CNN/ABC want ratings, this would be a great way to go. And it's hardly limited to administration officials or Republicans. Every public figure should be held accountable in this way. If they publicly change their minds about something (which does happen, albeit rarely), then show that part of the clip too, but don't let them get away with having it both ways.

Journalists need to show that they understand what normal humans know--that there are not two (and only two) equal sides to every issue, that facts can be determined, that sources can be checked and are not limited to statements made by partisans, and that not everything is a simple matter of opinion, an honest debate.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 3, 2007 6:08 PM | Permalink

Mark and Jason:

I expect you'd have no problem with the dems' for the war statements back to back with their against the war statements?

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 3, 2007 8:26 PM | Permalink

No problem with that at all. I hardly think Democrats are immune from failure to think things thru or from inept or corrupt actions. I remember Dan Rostenkowski. I'm currently having a spot of trouble figuring out how Louisiana rep Jefferson is still in office. I can think of no legitimate reasons to keep $90K in your freezer. For that matter, I think Roosevelt should have been impeached for what he did to the Japanese-Americans. Not sure I would have gone along with the Copperheads, though. I like to think I would have had some sympathy for the plight of the slaves.

As to the war flip-flops on the part of the Dems, I don't understand how they bought into the administration's transparent nonsense from the get-go, but if they've changed their minds about it, then they should explain that. I don't mind a politician changing course in light of new learning. In fact, that's one of the most frustrating things about Bush. When it comes to this idiotic war, he's been fiendishly resistant to learning from his mistakes.

I'm truly astonished that Bush didn't fire his whole cabinet and push Cheney into a freezer somewhere after the midterms. Apparently he does have principles. Vile principles, but he could have simply been political. If he'd have said, "The people have spoken, the war isn't going well, we're going to change a whole lot more than the Defense Secretary," then the Republicans might have a shot in 2008. As it is, they've tied their fortunes to the millstone of this war. I don't see how the Republicans can recover for decades, frankly.

If real conservatives don't rescue the Republican party from the authoritarian/theocratic/plutocratic wing soon, they won't have anything left to rescue.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 3, 2007 9:23 PM | Permalink

Statements by Democrats on Iraq

Posted by: Tim at May 3, 2007 9:34 PM | Permalink

Revisionist 2002 National Intelligence Estimate
Bush "declassified/invented" which lied about what the original NIE actually said concerning Iraq's nuclear weapons, etc. It was on the basis of this bogus analysis that some irredeemably gullible Democrats made the ridiculous decision to trust George W. Bush with anything sharp or explosive. Of course the decision to invade was made without reference to this NIE which was only produced to placate congressional insistence on at least maintaining the appearance of having an actual foreign policy process in place (as Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, and George Tenet have all made unavoidably clear).

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 3, 2007 10:31 PM | Permalink

This post and the first several comments were about the press and the WH correspondents dinner. Why are certain people incapable of leaving their burning passion for the mistakes that led to Iraq out of discussions that have nothing to do with it? This issue has been discussed endlessly, and in thousands of locations. It should be clear by now that neither side is going to convince the other. You are each just slinging the same mud at each other. Why not allow the original discussion to occur? Please

Posted by: Roger Rainey at May 4, 2007 11:28 AM | Permalink

I think I generally follow your critique of the purportedly ideology free heroic journalism narrative and how it has been blind-sided by Bush era rollback. What still puzzles me, however, is the degree to which for many journalists the credo of objectivity has morphed into a duty to enable and defend the propagation of government propaganda through private, seemingly independent media outlets and the further duty to protect the identities of government officials who have arguably betrayed the nation as well as the press even after they have been exposed as bald-faced liars.

When did the code of journalistic independence designed to protect whistle-blowers get transformed into a code of omerta to the powers that be? And why doesn't the conflation of journalistic heroism and membership in a criminal conspiracy directed from the White House cause any cognitive dissonance for members of the beltway press?

How is it that the Judith Miller code of complicity with the powers that be and code of silence about their crimes passes for heroic journalistic integrity? This screaming incoherence still stops me in my tracks.

Judith Miller went to jail to defend her right to disseminate false government propaganda as a personal journalistic scoop and to protect the identity of the propagandist who lied to her. Rather than getting mad or getting even for being burned by a source, the journalistic ethics of her and the dozens in DC who defended her required her to heroically protect the identity of the source who burned her and the national interest. What is being defended here? What position or thought process imagines protecting a source that lies to you and leads the nation into a misbegotten military catastrophe is a defense of the public interest, is the very essence of the journalistic code of honor? This is something the New York Times and Bill Keller were right in the middle of. Until they can figure out the difference between becoming a made man in the Cheney cabal and defending the public interest, I'm not sure I can attach particular importance to who they have dinner with. Do you see any sign that Bill Keller and company have made any progress on this front?

The Bill Moyers documentary on selling the war featured a number of interviews where media executives essentially said they regularly print or broadcast stories in response to White House and corporate pressure that directly conflict with their own journalists' conclusions out of fear for political and economic retaliation. In broadcast news especially, there no longer seems to be the sort of firewall between opinion and the news that the ideology of journalistic objectivity takes as its point of departure. Do you think a failure to connect the clear consequences of corporate media consolidation and downsizing and the hoary and now largely imaginary ideology of journalistic independence might be a big part of the problem? In a word, where is the heroism and objectivity in passing on RNC-conceived opposition research from the Drudge Report and the Politico?

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 4, 2007 11:53 AM | Permalink

Attending the WH correspondents' dinner makes the correspondents complicit in the actions of this White House. Pretending that the White House is honorable by dignifying their propaganda with your air time or their dinner with your presence makes you a quisling, if not an outright Tokyo Rose, a la Fox News.

This is the fundamental objection that the NY Times has to the dinner. Or it should be. The Iraq war, along with so many other abuses of power, are part and parcel of that. If the White House were actually working in the interests of America, I would have less of a problem with the press showing up to dinner once a year, but it still seems like a clear conflict of interest and a likely erosion of objectivity, if there's any there to start with.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 4, 2007 12:46 PM | Permalink

Speaking of Moyers and his recent TV program, it's a pity he didn't include his own experiences of stong-arming and intimidating the press back when he was flacking for LBJ during the VietNam war. He could have given us some real up close and personal observations and insight.

Posted by: qcexaminer at May 4, 2007 12:54 PM | Permalink

Jay, a question:

Given your expressed unwillingness to participate in Rutenberg's narrative, how important do you think it was to Rutenberg to include in his story, "said Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University."

Mark Anderson,

Wrong. Democrats on the hill had access to the classifed version. In fact, it was calls by these Democrats for a declassified version to justify their votes that lead to the document you link.

Posted by: Tim at May 4, 2007 6:36 PM | Permalink

We should give credit where credit is due for the the 2002 NIE: Democrats on the SSCI.

Posted by: Tim at May 4, 2007 6:43 PM | Permalink

Background on 2002 NIE and Congress
The CIA briefed congressional committees about the National Intelligence Estimate but did not deliver the classified version until the evening of Oct. 1, just before a Senate intelligence committee hearing the next day, congressional sources said. At that closed-door session, several senators raised questions about qualifying statements made in the report, which was circulated only among senior national security officials.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 5, 2007 10:51 AM | Permalink

I agree with p.lukasiak the correspondent�s dinner should be a cease-fire. Instead it has become yet another opportunity for each side to count coup. A little more �what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas� type of attitude would go a long way to restoring the event. Of course that goes to the heart of recognizing �the essential humanity of �the other side��.

Take Jason Spicer�s belief in the fascist nature of the Bush Administration. He was presented with information that maybe America in not quite as fascist as he wants to believe. This leads to the following statement by Mr. Spicer.

�It's true, as Roger Rainey pointed out, that I and others like me are still free to spout our opposition to the administration, but I prefer to see that as speaking out while there's still time to make a difference. If we wait until the fascists finally resort to brutal suppression of dissent, then it's far too late.� (Speaking of the suppression of dissent, how about that PBS documentary on moderate Muslims?)

Mr. Spicer seems to be saying he knows the evidence does not support any transformation to a fascist state, but prefers to believe something else. Believing Bush is a fascist justifies all sorts of excesses in opposing his administration, plus it makes a nice label. If the other side is so bad, anything done, said or believed in opposition must be true and good, right? In the end Mr. Spicer becomes another shrill voice in the chorus of Bush and Clinton haters.

I disagree with p.lukasiak , however, on his views concerning the narratives of the press and �roll back�. The two are the same.

p.lukasiak says
�What Jay describes is the practice of journalists spending a significant amount of time interviewing someone in order to get a quote to suit their pre-determined narrative -- while treating the rest of the interview as non-existent.�


�The administration's �roll back� isn't because of fear that quotes will be cherry-picked, its an effort to restrict the flow of information to Americans via the press -- to impose its own pre-determined narrative on the public "fix the facts" to conform to the policy.

Once a narrative on a story has been chosen, whether by the press or by the administration and information is restricted, whether by restricting its flow or treating it as non-existent, the net effect is the same. Should an advocacy press that suppresses or ignores information not in keeping with its narrative be trusted any more than an administration that does the same? Fighting a fascist administration or even an administration of miscreants might justify this, but if it eventually exposes the press as dishonest too, I do not see this as good for anyone.

Jay Rosen argued a while back that the predominately negative coverage of the war by the press was a function of the coverage being too narrow not biased. It is not very far conceptually from coverage that is too narrow to �roll back� by the press. You don�t pay for half a shoe, why should you pay for half( if that)of the news. They can�t even get quotes right, ��recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.� has a different meaning than, tried to buy uranium in Niger. Is simple competence too much to ask for?

The title of the post could be asked by either the president or the press. Indeed, rather than bravo, how puerile of the NY Times. I blame Bush we have lost the public�s trust, (or am I reading your snippet of Frank Rich wrong)? Slink off, suck you thumb and wait until someone you like better as President throws a party. This is not taking a stand it is making a pose.

Posted by: Abad man at May 5, 2007 6:34 PM | Permalink

sorry, the browser did not like my quotation marks

Posted by: abad man at May 5, 2007 6:40 PM | Permalink

nice article, interesting read

Posted by: akshay jain at May 6, 2007 2:26 AM | Permalink

Sigh. If the word "fascist" scares people, what would you suggest we call this administration? Airy and light? These people are autocrats, at minimum. They have no use for the rule of law or any other contraints on their exercise of power. This is not why we elect people.

It simply makes no sense to declare a cease-fire with an administration that so blatantly refuses to give a damn about reality, other people's opinions, truth, legality, etc. So they're not smashing shop windows in the night. This is the opposite of a noble White House. Sitting down to dinner with them only encourages them.

In any case, the press and the government should not have a cozy relationship. They don't need to be adversaries, but it's hard to hold government officials accountable when they're picking up the tab for dinner.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 6, 2007 3:35 AM | Permalink

You don't get it. Read Leviticus and stop doing all that nasty, vile, squishy stuff to the English language. Or, if you intend to keep it up, don't broadcast it.

Here's the point. Either you believe what you say, in which case you're hopelessly delusional, or you don't, in which case you're a liar.

In neither case is anybody going to believe you.

Got that? It's important.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 6, 2007 9:12 AM | Permalink

Jason, sigh right back at you. A lot of power resides n the Presidency which naturally lends itself to abuses. I do not think any of the administrations of the past 30- 40 years could be called airy and light, especially if you were trying to cross or go against them. Any argument quickly dissolves into which level of hell the administration should be sent. As Jay states about bias and the media the whole discussion just makes you dumber.

A noble white house is a fine ideal like a competent functioning press, I just do not see it happening. I do not see any of the candidates on either side with the ability to bring much nobility to the White House, respect for others opinions, laws, truth, etc. The same for congress whether controlled by democrats or republicians. (no corruptin or pettiness since last November by golly)

Is theoretical suppression of others views at some nebulous date in the future worse or more threatening than the actual suppression of others views currently occurring on campuses? Does wearing sandals instead of jack boots make it OK? If the speaker is a fascist conservative, or a fascist organization like ROTC, maybe it does. That is why labels matter.

This administration politicized the war early on. The democrats have been more than willing to continue the process, a pox on both their houses. To me the war has become a proxy for the underlying battle on social issues between the parties. The press has been complicit in this process.

Matthews, Russert, Stephanopoulos, all transitioned from politics to part of the MSM machine, to say nothing of the various intermarriages of the press and Washington insiders, but getting rid of the correspondents dinner, well that will be a big step toward de-cozifying the press and government.

Posted by: abad man at May 6, 2007 1:25 PM | Permalink

Richard, I'm genuinely confused by your posts. What, precisely, don't I get? What vile and unnatural things am I doing to the English language? Vague references to the second wackiest book of the Bible are not exactly enlightening me.

I don't think I'm lying, but neither do I think I'm delusional. I'd go as far as describing myself as idealistic, but I certainly don't want to be delusional. If you mean that I am overreaching in applying the word "fascism" to this White House, perhaps you're right. (I certainly hope you don't mean that we've had a fascist government for ages now and I should just grow up and accept that.) From

1. A political regime based on strong centralized government, suppressing through violence any criticism or opposition of the regime, and exalting nation, state, or religion above the individual.
2. A system of strong autocracy.


1. (often capitalized) a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2. a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

I don't believe that any one dictionary's definition is definitive, but Webster's has a certain authority.

I concede that there has been little, if any, outright violent suppression of domestic opposition by this administration. But each of the #2 definitions seem to fit, and subtracting the violent element, the #1 definitions seem to fit. In any case, in these Orwellian times, propaganda, flackery, and marginalization of opponents as crackpots is arguably more effective than outright thuggery. It's certainly more amenable to dismissal of complaints as "delusional". As to the press, why suppress when you can co-opt?

What label would you prefer I use in describing an administration with these traits? That the administration routinely demonstrates these traits is simply not in question, and if you think it is, then again, it's not me that's delusional.

Have most administrations since the 1920's demonstrated these traits? Hard to argue with abad man there, so yes, though I'd say to a much lesser degree. And that's what I'm complaining about. The Bush administration has simply taken this outrageous behavior farther than any other administration (with the possible exception of FDR, though he had a plainly more dire crisis to contend with).

I agree that keeping government honest, open, intelligent, effective, and noble is an ever-receding horizon. Does that mean we should stop chasing it? I guess I don't understand why somebody with that level of pessimism (and this isn't just directed at Richard) would even bother to post a comment on a thread like this. You have to keep the positive pressure on, or things just get worse, as history has shown time and again.

Aside from deriding my posts, what is it that you would like to see happen in the government/press interface, Richard? The fact that I'm posting my opinions doesn't mean you can't expand on yours.

For example, I wholeheartedly agree with your post above:

"If the press were more trusted by the public, the WH's efforts would be less effective.
Work on the trust. Complaining about the WH's treatment of the press is useless because there's nothing you can do about it from that end. You can only make it useless by proving yourselves to the public end of the discussion, by regaining trust."

I personally think that one step toward regaining the public's trust in the press would be for the press to not engage in such cozy relationships with the government. Thus, not attending the dinner is a good thing.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 6, 2007 3:24 PM | Permalink

Richard Aubrey has demonstrated for years running that he thinks George W. Bush and company are a force of good in the world, holding off the genuine threat to civilization as we know it, the abject corruption of nihilistic liberal barbarians who, as Satan's spawn, would naturally also stand up for the rights of terrorists. Logic will not deter him. It simply irritates him when you say that the Bush administration's behavior is authoritarian. He thinks God is on his and Dubya's side, so using unpleasant rhetoric to describe His Work can only be perverse and ultimately blasphemous. Journalists who stray from the path are similarly possessed by the forces of evil. Changing Richard's mind would require a religious conversion. Dictionary definitions are not likely to take you far on that front.

Given the force of political theology in contemporary US culture, this is a daily challenge for journalists as well as commenters on the websites of journalism professors. What can you say to people who want to mount an economic boycott of accurate reporting because challenging the Bush administration and the Republican party is ultimately evidence of perversion or a form of blasphemy? What would seriously address this problem? Exorcism?

Solving this question is not a matter of fact or rhetorical position, it is a matter of legitimacy and belief. That is why so many of the comments here are fundamentally incapable of speaking to one another. They have mutually exclusive criteria for determining credibility, legitimacy, and belief. What could reach the 25% die-hard Bush administration supporters short of their being born again as something other than Republican fundamentalists, for example becoming actual Christians, Christians who genuinely cared about their fellow man and whose goals in life betrayed the faintest influence of the ideals important to the biblical Jesus rather than the Republican Jesus?

See Christopher Hedges, American Fascism: The Christian Right and the War on America on this point. Not all Bush administration supporters are religious fundamentalists, but to continue to support the Bush regime at this point in history requires relating to politics in a fundamentally religious manner. Continued support of this administration and its cause in the face of the utter catastrophe and failure it has left in its wake simply doesn't allow for any other explanation. The comment section of a journalism professor's website isn't very likely to seriously challenge views this deeply rooted.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 6, 2007 4:57 PM | Permalink

Let's get real here----the problem isn't the annual WH dinner, it's the revolving door between political operatives and journalism. I'm talking about Tim Russert, George S., Chris Matthews, etc.

The fact that virulent GOP-hater and sports writer Keith Olbermann was chosen to give the pre and post GOP debate commentary for MSNBC shows how clueless the national media is about their ethical problems. Olbermann is renown for stating that "The leading terrorist group in this country is the Republican Party", yet when MSNBC was questioned about Olby's ability to be fair, they just laughed it off, saying Olby could turn his hate off and on. Yeah, that's really convincing---to a frothing left-winger.

And back to my earlier point----if journalists are f*cking political operatives, how the hell are we supposed to believe that they can "objective"? What is their defense? "I left my d*ck in the bedroom?" Yeah, sure.

It wasn't George Bush that produced "rollback", it was journalists who gave up the high ground because of their "personal relationships" with political operatives, and the fact that so many journalists were once political operatives themselves.

Posted by: qcexaminer at May 6, 2007 5:03 PM | Permalink

This being my introduction to Mr. Aubrey, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Having said that, I think about 25% of the human population is given to autocratic tendencies. I'm not out to convert them. But I think it's important to speak up in opposition for two reasons. First, to let the autocrats know that they are not in the majority and do not have the vast support they think they do. (There's a reason Nixon's silent majority was silent--it didn't exist.) Second, to let everybody else know that they're not alone, and they shouldn't let the autocrats get away with it.

The problem is, of course, that autocracy and zealotry go together well, and the tendency to question authority doesn't often make for a unified front. So autocrats tend to exert about twice as much political power as their numbers would suggest. It just takes a lot more work to get the live and let live folks to pull in one direction and put their collective foot down.

And of course, I do hold out some hope that occasionally an authoritarian will finally recognize the sheer futility of attempting to force other people to think their way. Eventually, never getting the results you expect has to wear a person down.

And qcexaminer, the word you were looking for is "renowned". Keith Olbermann has renown. He is renowned. (I wouldn't harp on it, but this is one of my pet peeves, like nucular.) From

Noun, (Singular: renown, Plural: uncountable)
fame; celebrity; wide recognition

Olbermann is one of the very, very few opposition journalists bold enough to state that the emperor wears no clothes. For this, he is widely and justifiably recognized.

That doesn't make Olbermann objective or unbiased, but in the human institution of journalism, you'll never get that. What we do want in journalism is an arm's length relationship with the subjects they cover. Incestuous professional relationships are always unseemly. I think it's safe to say that Bush will never invite Olbermann to drop by for tea.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 6, 2007 7:07 PM | Permalink

Dear QCExaminer,
You perfectly model the Catch 22 contemporary journalism finds itself in. Matthews and Russert are reflexive Democrat-bashing Republican enablers. Keith Olbermann is guilty of nothing more than calling George W. Bush a liar when he lies. That is the definition of objectivity.

The latest propaganda from Karl Rove spouted by Drudge, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Fox, CNN, ABC, and the programs before and after Olbermann's Countdown are not the standard of truth simply because they bear the RNC imprimatur. This administration in particular has had about a six year vacation from reality-testing. The fact that you consider it so obvious that speaking the truth equals hate and people who agree with you have the market power to enforce your prejudices says even more about the sorry state of US journalism than the White House dinner. Apparently you, too, think reality has a liberal bias.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 6, 2007 8:22 PM | Permalink

Jason. I'm not going to quote the relevant sections of Leviticus. Suffice it to say, if you were caught doing to animals what you do to the English language, you'd have a career in a sordid profession ahead of you. Plus, PETA would be after you.
Or, to put it another way, you build false definitions into words as planted axioms. The first battle would be over the meaning of words, generally accepted vs. yours. And, of course, there is no way you could be induced to quit squirming, dodging, and otherwise avoiding the subject. So, presuming we had a couple of years to keep you under sodium pentothal and we eventually got to cases, we'd have just completed the forward to the book.
Not interested.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 6, 2007 9:30 PM | Permalink

Throw out the parts of a definition you do not like and you can make a horse a cow, zebra, or elephant, words have meanings and how Orwellian of you to mold fascist to your purpose. We are obviously talking past each other. To me you keep saying "yeah, you have a good point but that is not the way I want to look at it. I do not feel tendencies make something fact, and there are much greater threats to our basic freedoms than the Bush administration. Live by the Foma.

As to Matthews and Russert being republican mouthpieces while Olbermann is the last bastion of truth and light in this troubled world. Whoa... (Quietly backs away from the discussion)

Posted by: Abad man at May 6, 2007 9:40 PM | Permalink

Dear Abad Man,
Persuade Bush to stop lying, systematically violating the constitution, and wrecking the middle east and you'll be surprised how quickly Olbermann's "irrational" coverage of the administration improves. Short of that, yes, backing away from the discussion is probably the prudent way to go.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 6, 2007 10:03 PM | Permalink

Q: How many of the 25% of the population that still supports George Bush does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: None. Why would they ever want to screw in a light bulb? If you just eliminate the anti-Bush bias in the media they'll be able see just fine.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 6, 2007 10:18 PM | Permalink

A wise man should know what he can and can't change. Bush will be president for two more years. I don't believe the charges you make against Bush are true, or at least not to any extent more than the next politician. Bush supporters, color me somewhat lukewarm on this one, are not the only ones with a religious fanaticism on this issue. Of course YOURS is the one true faith.

I like to think at some point men of good faith (as a politically correct gender neutral term)make this country run, and form the foundation of this country. We survived Regan, Clinton, and will probably survive Bush more or less intact, have a little faith and get over yourself.

Posted by: abad man at May 6, 2007 10:30 PM | Permalink

It seems relativism has replaced patriotism as the last refuge of scoundrels, George Bush being the scoundrel in question. That's the same apology for high crimes and misdemeanors my dad came up with.

I seriously doubt "They're all bad, so who cares what crimes Republicans commit!" or "Every administration fires US attorneys who apply the law to their own party and refuse to press false charges against the opposition party!" will work out well as mottoes for a reformed press corps.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 6, 2007 10:47 PM | Permalink

Of course yours is the one true faith.
Sorry Jay for perpetuating this OT farce.

Posted by: Abad man at May 7, 2007 12:01 AM | Permalink

Well, I tried. (Heck, I even highlighted our points of agreement.) I provide definitions, Aubrey repeats himself about Leviticus. For the record, I got the reference the first time, and it's just not as clever as you think it is.

But since you don't seem interested in saying anything besides "Jason will never stop squirming", even when I provide definitions and a basis for common ground, I guess we're not actually having a conversation. My mistake.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 7, 2007 1:17 AM | Permalink

Jason. If you were as smart as you think you are, you'd have gotten it a lot sooner. The no-conversation thing, I mean.
I'm probably older than anybody named Jason except the Argonaut guy. I've been involved with and in lefty groups since the Sixties. If there are new ways of discussing issues with lefties, the lefties haven't heard of them.

Mark Anderson. The two wrongs don't make a right thing is crap. However, the obvious conclusion is not often stated, so some people think that pointing out the sins of some other group is only two wrongs don't make a right.
Let me say what shouldn't need to be said.
If you complain about the wrongs of one group, pretending it's a matter of principle, and don't complain about the wrongs of another group, it's not a matter of principle. If it were a matter of principle, you'd complain about both. Since you don't, it isn't. (Retroactively saying, "Yeah, they were wrong" doesn't count.)
So pointing out that, say, Clinton did the same or worse isn't excusing, say, Bush. It's pointing out that your pretense at principle is obviously bogus.
So, next time you are tempted to tell somebody that two wrongs don't make a right, stop and consider that your lack of principle has been outed. That's the point of the other's argument.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 7, 2007 6:19 AM | Permalink

Dear Richard,
No, the point is that telling the truth about a criminal president is not a wrong to be righted, it is a fact to be respected. Reframing the truth as hate speech, as a wrong to be righted, simply takes you farther away from reality testing. Until more who live in your world can figure that out, both journalism and democracy will remain in mortal danger. An actively authoritarian people is the greatest existential threat to journalistic and governmental integrity.

In response to your dogmatic charge of dogmatism, I have criticized Clinton and others repeatedly in the past. I'm closer to the politics of Mahatma Ghandi than Nancy Pelosi, so criticizing Democrats is not particularly difficult. In other words, you are projecting when you accuse me of hypocrisy. When you make these sorts of accusations you are descending into a confessional mode, revealing more than you seem to realize.

Rightly recognizing both parties have issues doesn't change the fact that when it comes to endangering democracy and transforming the government of the people into a privatized corporate fraternity and a one party state, the contemporary GOP has the Democratic party outclassed. They are not even playing the same game.

When it comes to criminality or corruption, the Democrats are simply pikers compared to the contemporary Republican party. If Whitewater were true, which years of investigations of false charges have endlessly established not to be the case, even if it were hypothetically true, it would be a very slow morning one day in the first week of the Bush administration's self-consciously designed, systematic trillion dollar scheme of no-bid kickbacks to the incompetent but properly connected. Their fondness for no-bid contracts demonstrates their opposition to free market competition in principle. All cartels all the time would be closer to the game they play. Why else would they oppose negotiating government contracted drug prices to lower the cost of Medicare? All cartels, all the time.

Go complain about principle to the corrupter in chief. When he starts behaving better, you can expect an improvement in his media profile. Until then, stop complaining about the messenger and start paying attention to the corruption itself.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 7, 2007 12:07 PM | Permalink

Britt Hume and Fox News "Objectivity"

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 7, 2007 12:09 PM | Permalink

Mark, if you dislike corruption on principle, instead of only using it against republicans, you'd have been all over Diane Feinstein on the milcon subcommittee, for years. Contemporaneously, not retroactively.
You weren't, so....forget it.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 7, 2007 1:34 PM | Permalink

We must support Our Leader and not judge his actions because once upon a time somewhere else somebody else may plausibly be accused of having been hypocritical about a completely unrelated matter. That demonstrates real principle.

These are words to live by.

You've modeled the Fox News approach to journalism almost perfectly. Distract, distract, distract.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 7, 2007 2:23 PM | Permalink

Dear Jay,
I would really like to hear more of your take on the Frontline documentary you discussed in your post. Would it be possible to make available online the parts of your interview that were deep-sixed by the documentary makers ala your Assignment Zero approach?

Consider this a request from your readers. Your suggestion that the documentary was certifiably blog deaf and insisted on going with the heroic journalism narrative in spite of the blogospheric facts rings true overall.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 7, 2007 2:26 PM | Permalink

Richard, if you were as smart as you think you are, you'd realize that there is such a thing as a difference in degree. While it is true that the Clinton administration committed abuses of power, it is clearly true that the Bush administration commits abuses of power on a much more impressive and detrimental scale.

To ignore differences in degree is to retreat to the grade-school taunt of "I know you are, but what am I?" You are fantastically out of touch with reality if you think thousands of violations of the FISA act are no worse than dozens. That dozens of thousands of innocent dead in Iraq is no worse than Clinton's bombing of the Chinese embassy in the former Yugoslavia. Your age and former and current associations are irrelevant if you refuse to recognize an administration galloping madly down the road to ruin. Bad is bad. Worse is worse. Calling them on it is the right thing to do. Excusing either is a dereliction of moral obligation.

I still can't figure out why you're posting at all on this. Defending the indefensible on the grounds that others have committed similar crimes is just bizarre. I suppose you think we should do away with the laws against murder on the grounds that they are hypocritical since some people get away with it.

Go back to reading Leviticus and its nutjob sequel Revelation. Your forays into the real world aren't working out so well.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 7, 2007 3:20 PM | Permalink

Nope. It's not that we have to give the republicans a break because once upon a time the dems did something bad. It's that we don't have to give you a break because when the dems did something wrong you paid no attention.
See the difference?

And I have not been a slavish follower of Bush. The most I ever talked about him directly was regarding Dan Rather and the Killian memo fraud. I differed from the professional journos hereabouts. I thought that Rather's sin was the fraud. The pros thought it was getting caught. But bloggers, no less. A giant brought low by pissants. It is not to be stood.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 7, 2007 8:47 PM | Permalink

Richard: And you know this about me how? You don't have any idea what I did or didn't do or think about previous administrations. I've never heard of you before, so I guess I can assume that you've never done or thought anything prior to this thread, either. Get a grip, pal. You're just inventing a reality so you can feel superior.

I called a kettle black, and you assumed I was a pot. How intellectual. I extended you the benefit of the doubt at the beginning of your posts. You never once returned the courtesy, so I'll be ignoring you now.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 7, 2007 10:47 PM | Permalink

Jason. I never extended you the benefit of the doubt. From the first post I read of yours, I was convinced you were, as I say, delusional or dishonest.
By using the term "fascist", for example, to equate some historical happening, such as Nazi Germany, and the current administration, you were, as I said, sinning mightily against language.
I declined to participate.
One reason is that I have seen this kind of nonsense for decades. You have not invented anything new or effective.
As Alinsky said, decades ago, in his Rules for Radicals, argue long and hard with your opponents, just to wear them out and annoy them.
There may be new things under the sun, but you haven't discovered one.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 7, 2007 11:36 PM | Permalink

Some comments:

Arguing with Aubrey is a waste of time. He's incapable of paraphrasing what someone else said if it's someone he disputes. It's just not a facility he ever developed in life; nor will he at this late date. As a result, every summary he gives is comically prejudiced and wildly inaccurate-- in fact, extreme. When you hear, "I thought that Rather's sin was the fraud. The pros thought it was getting caught," you can be certain that his paraphrase of what "the pros" thought has nothing to do with what the pros said, meant or thought.

This is not an uncommon affliction online nor is it limited to one side of the political spectrum; he just has one of the worst cases I have seen.

Aubrey is a hater (as I have told him many times) and he comes here to express his hate for professional journalists because he thinks they hang out here and read his comments. If you think he's talking to you, you're mistaken. He's trying to spit at the people he hates by pretending to talk to you. There's a connection, of course, between his hating and his twisted, completely inept paraphrases.

I do not agree with Jason that "fascism" is a useful or accurate or fair term for discussing Bush and his Administration. I think this is a vice that some critics of the President fall into. I think Bush is a radical, not a conservative, certainly not a traditional Republican. So some commentators, searching for a way to express that radicalism, sometimes turn to fascism and other extreme movements for comparison. It's not wise because there is no comparison to the state of law and liberty under Bush and the state of law and liberty under fascism.

Mark writes, "Would it be possible to make available online the parts of your interview that were deep-sixed by the documentary makers [as with] your AssignmentZero approach?"

No. They own the interview. I don't have a copy. But the posted interview has a lot of what they cut out of the documentary.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at May 8, 2007 9:51 AM | Permalink

"From the first post I read of yours, I was convinced you were, as I say, delusional or dishonest."

I tend to regard statements like that as proof that the writer has a significant "mind wired shut" problem...

Posted by: Graham Shevlin at May 8, 2007 11:21 AM | Permalink

It is not relativism. Take the AG firings, by your standards of evidence I can easily say Clinton fired the 93 some odd attorneys to save himself and two or three of his cronies. I did not believe a crime was committed then nor do I believe one was committed now. I am consistent in my belief AG are political appointments subject to the whims of politicians.
In 1998 I believe Clinton overruled the contracting process and gave the contract for the Balkans to Halliburton, cost plus 5% by the brown and root guy I talked to at the time. Pretty sweet deal. Perjury, soliciting perjury- (not a lot of proof but when did that stop you?) sexual harassment, campaign finance violations, something about Chinese and nuclear secrets. The Oslo accords they worked out well huh? No messing up the Middle East there.

But then again, they were only criminal acts no assault on the constitution like the NSA wire taps. Oh wait that is Jason's stick. Well Clinton did do them too, only not as much as evil Bush. Relativism and scoundrels? I am sure Clinton felt bad about doing the wire taps, not like Bush who enjoys trampling others rights. Why Bush even got FBI files on his political opponents, no wait that was Clinton... sorry my bad... never mind. Why Bush even fired people in the travel office to install his cronies, oh shoot that was Clinton again.

Mark, saying the democrats cannot hold a candle to bush in the corruption depart is the very relativism you accuse me of, can you at least be consistent within the post? You rascally scoundrel you.

One of the reasons Clinton escaped Whitewater was that Jim McDougal died, under what some people consider suspicious circumstances. In fact a lot of people associated with Clinton died. Goggle Arkansas sudden death syndrome for a complete list. It is even a progressive site, I believe, so it must be the truth. People died what does Clinton know? Murder! How can we allow that man to walk free? Remember the 90s, and all the Clinton hate?

You hate Bush. This leads to all sorts of intellectual dishonesty and contortions on your part that are, ultimately, easy to mock. Bush may be a radial as Jay says, but that has does not make him a criminal. He may be taking the country in a direction you do not want it to go, but after 9/11 the country and congress seemed willing to go in that direction. Might I even suggest the country wanted to go that way.

Bush did not create Saddam as a boogie man, the Clinton Administration perpetuated the myth in the 90's. After 9/11 the perfect storm existed. I do not feel invading Iraq was wrong, but underselling the difficulty and cost it would entail was. Look at Kosovo and the folly of believing we would be in and out quick should have been apparent to even the most casual of observers. The Bushies played hardball and won then, boo hoo, it is coming back to bite them now. The country is catching its breath and looks to be pulling back from the path Bush stated us down. Hopefully, not all the way because I believe a significant number, (even 1/10 of 1% of a billion is a huge number) of fanatics despise us. Not for who is in the White House but more simply for what we are, freedoms we enjoy, and what our country represents. They are more than willing to kill to achieve this and cannot be reasoned with. Hell, I cannot even get you to see my point of view as valid. I have seen evil and please believe me, Bush is the Diet Coke of evil (obscure Austin Powers reference) Balancing freedoms, rights, and security are serious and important issues for this time. They require serious, rational discussion by serious rational people.

Your rants may play well with fellow zealots, but are shrill and sanctimonious to me. I am sure my opinion means a lot to you and will result in a drastic change in your behavior.

As a pre-emptive strike I see your point of view as valid, just grossly overstated and the wrong conclusion based on available facts.

Posted by: Abad man at May 8, 2007 11:29 AM | Permalink

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that "fascism" is no longer a meaningful word in the English language, period. If you state the plain dictionary definitions and people nevertheless persist in equating "fascism" with "Nazi Germany", as though the prime example were the entire class, then the word has simply lost its meaning. (If Richard is still paying attention, I'll spell that out for him: Not all beetles are dung beetles. Get it now?)

Richard being merely a delusional troll notwithstanding, I guess I'll have to use a different word. So I'll ask again. What word describes this administration? Radical is correct, but not specific enough. Radical how? Authoritarian and autocratic don't do the regime justice. These guys may be the Diet Coke of fascism, but they're certainly on that spectrum, albeit rather nearer Pinochet than Mussolini (this administration wishes it could make trains run on time).

And abad, are you seriously trotting out the tired "Clinton is a murderer" canard? By the time a politician makes it to the White House, they have personal connections to literally thousands of people. Odds are pretty good that many people in that pool die under mysterious circumstances. How many accident, murder, or suicide victims has Bush known?

Serious, rational people need to understand how dangerous this administration is, and how much damage it has done to our constitution, our government, our people, our standing in the world, and the cause of democracy itself. It's hard to imagine a more self-defeating agenda than the one this administration has relentlessly pursued. I don't think a moderate tone is warranted in opposition to such a catastrophe. The situation calls for klaxons.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 8, 2007 2:56 PM | Permalink

Jason. I would describe this administration as one that pisses off Jason. Jason, being the center of the universe, thinks this is important.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 8, 2007 4:14 PM | Permalink

"Mark, saying the democrats cannot hold a candle to bush in the corruption depart is the very relativism you accuse me of..."

Or a true statement based on sworn affidavits being collected by Henry Waxman.

We can't even agree on what would establish a fact as a fact, so there doesn't seem to be much point in trying Jay's patience with this any further.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at May 8, 2007 4:54 PM | Permalink


You presume that Waxman collects sworn affidavits equally, not as a technique of partisan politics. Nobody else presumes that.

Or, I should say, you aren't dumb enough to presume that but you must be hoping to encounter somebody who is dumb enough to swallow it.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at May 8, 2007 6:46 PM | Permalink

After reading the exchanges in the comments here I now understand why one has to parse news stories to tease out a little truth, much in the way one had to read the old Pravda and Izvestia.

Posted by: Sam Thornton at May 10, 2007 3:24 AM | Permalink

I don't know Jason. This is how Wikipedia defines fascism:

an authoritarian political ideology (generally tied to a mass movement) that considers individual and other societal interests inferior to the needs of the state. . .

Factually and specifically, what has the Bush admin done along these lines? You can point to data mining and eavesdropping, but as we all know the ACLU and its fellow travelers were unable to identify a single person who in fact suffered from it. Conservatives and libertarians are much more supportive of individual rights than liberals, so you come off a little silly insisting that this administration is fascist. But, facts don't seem to stand in the way of liberal name calling anymore. Another failure of our compliant press.

On the other hand, that definition of fascism sounds uncomfortably close to the atmosphere on quite a few liberal-dominated college campuses these days, particularly if you substitute "campus" for "state". That is one bastion where so-called progressives have total sway. What will happen if they gain control over other areas?

Posted by: R Rainey at May 11, 2007 12:22 PM | Permalink

One small but highly symbolic part of the consensus was the Correspondents dinner, and this is why it matters that the New York Times has quit the event. - What ever happened to non-subjective journalism?

Posted by: baby names meanings at May 13, 2007 4:21 AM | Permalink

Yeah why have dinner with him just forget it is how i see it.

Posted by: social networking site at May 14, 2007 4:39 PM | Permalink

Um, R. Rainey, actually suffering from a violation of your rights is not a requirement. The violation is still there. This is why raping a comatose person who would never learn of the rape is still a crime.

I would say that all the lives squandered and/or shattered by this unnecessary war in Iraq have definitely been subordinated to the needs of the state, at least as perceived by the Bush administration. Certainly the individuals tortured and/or held without charge or counsel (some of whom are completely innocent) have had their needs subordinated to those of the Bush administration. Certainly the Constitutional rights of many, many Americans have been subordinated to the needs of the Bush administration, as you point out in your post. And your grandchildren's bank accounts have been inundated by the needs of this administration to pay for the ongoing catastrophe.

In any case, a close reading of each of the first ten amendments reveals that the phrase "as long as nobody finds out" is nowhere to be found. It's a classic part of the fascist mindset to insist that only those with something to hide need fear the government's unlicensed proctology. The fact that you are so eager to give away your constitutional protections in exchange for purely illusory security enhancements doesn't impress me favorably.

And anyway, how can you possibly trust this most inept, corrupt, bull-headed, and reckless government? Or any government? The US Constitution is entirely predicated on the idea that governments, and particularly Commanders-in-Chief, are not to be completely trusted. They are to be heavily checked and balanced. To aver otherwise is, again, a symptom of a fascist mindset--the state being more important than the individual or the society, after all.

Your university campus analogy is inapt. A campus administration can't disappear you and render you to Uzbekistan for a session with a hot poker. The worst they can do is preclude your use of certain forums to espouse your ideas. There are plenty of other forums. If this is your idea of totalitarianism, then you should readily agree that the Bush gang has gone well beyond that.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 16, 2007 9:05 PM | Permalink

I am simply stunned at the amount of bitterness and vile directed at newsgathering organization by members of "the blogosphere." It really is quite shocking.

There are absolutely systemic problems with our press. It's one thing to agressively engage with those's quite another to suggest, as so many bloggers seem to, that we should simply do a way with the idea of a professional press altogether.

Posted by: JJ Kahala at May 21, 2007 2:24 PM | Permalink

If there is vile and bitterness directed at professional news gathering organizations (and there is), it because they have destroyed the trust of the people. Some might argue, what we see is the messenger being shot--but other professional journalists of the past have delivered 'bad news' with out losing trust. The truth seems to be that the professional news gathering organizations have squandered the good will of much of the American public, they have proven to be in error or editorializing too often. Once trust is lost, you can cry about it all you want, but it is lost and people are moving on trying to find someone who will consistently and honoestly deliver the news (what's happening) without trying to tell us how to feel about what's happening (editorializing). The journalists might say the public is being unfair, might declare their 'good intentions', might proclaim how important they are to demoncracy and our way of life (but if fewer people are listening and fewer still are taking them seriously, they have become increasingly irrelevant) but the lack of trust which they enjoyed is gone and now they must 'earn it back'; it will not be granted simply because they want it.

Posted by: swats at May 22, 2007 12:54 PM | Permalink

I don't want to abolish the professional press corps. I want it to be professional. I want journalists to keep an arm's length between themselves and the subjects they cover. I don't want them to buy the official line. Of either side. I want them to think. I don't necessarily want them to pontificate (though I think that's fine in an editorial), but I want them to call bullshit when they see it, because they just look stupid when they don't. They should be more than a transcription service. They should do more fact-checking and cross-referencing. When somebody is talking out of both sides of their mouth, print both quotes. Stop taking people's word for it. Stop being so credulous. The press can be polite and respectful without toadying to the powerful. The press should be more than a conduit for press releases.

Of course, I'd love to see more thoughtfulness, professionalism, and integrity from politicians and public officials as well. Our society seems to be aching for some accountability. I know I am.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 22, 2007 10:40 PM | Permalink

Jason, I heartily agree. But they are caught in a mess of their own making compounded by the changing technological world. Trust has been lost--much of the general public has made a decision about the professional journalists. Psychologically, once someone makes a decision, they don't want to 'remake' the decision over and over and they want to 'feel good' about the decision they have made. The result of that is that, because professional journalists have sufficiently demonstrated incompetence, personal agendas, (not giving the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the trust, as the saying goes), much of society has made a judgment/decision about them. Since there are other places to go (that have not yet disappointed or proved to be incompetent), those that are interested in news will turn to them. The long and short of it is that one rarely gets a second/third/fourth chance to prove their trustworthiness and reliability. It is sad is a lot of ways, but it is a situation of their own making.

Posted by: swats at May 23, 2007 11:53 AM | Permalink

Swats, you're right about the press making itself irrelevant, though I don't see the MSM as being entirely monolithic. There are still some credible voices doing some good journalism. You definitely have to dig to find it, though. (I think the Seattle Times usually does a respectable job.)

But it's completely bizarre that in a world so rich with things that are both important and sensational (War! Corruption! An administration out of control! Environmental crisis! Read all about it!), the MSM is so alarmingly herd-like in its ability to focus on the sensational yet trivial.

I happened across about five seconds of Wolf Blitzer trying to "cover" the Anna Nicole Smith demise. (It was impossible not to see at least some of that nonsense.) The look on his face was amazing. While trying to be professional and evince a serious tone, it was clear he was thinking, "Who was this woman? Why are we wasting airtime on this? What have I been reduced to? What the hell is wrong with my profession?" Not that I have tremendous respect for the guy in the first place (his interview with Cheney was incredibly inept), but it was simultaneously hilarious and pitiful.

The MSM have willingly turned themselves into a circus sideshow. Apparently only locally-owned newspapers and Comedy Central are interested in stepping into the vacuum they've left in the news business. I'm not sure what to do about all of this personally, but it sure seems to me that a huge market opportunity is going begging, if nothing else.

Posted by: Jason Spicer at May 23, 2007 9:39 PM | Permalink

5/24/2007 6:59:24 AM
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Posted by: Drug Abuse Treatment Centers at May 24, 2007 7:59 AM | Permalink

Jason, I read a book a few years ago about paradigms. The long and short of the books was that in most professions, there are paradigms that are developed to solve problems and then are passed on to succeeding generations in that profession. These paradigms are ways of thinking, ways of problem solving, etc. While these paradigms solved some problems in the past, they effectively prevent solving new or different problems in the field in the future. This is most clearly seen in science, research and development. The book builds a case that in order for future problems to be addressed and solved, there needs to be a new way of thinking (a new paradigm) developed. This seldom, if ever, can be achieved from those that have been taught and influenced and trained in the present paradigm (because they have been taught to look at a situation a certain way, they have become ingrown and inbred and they have too much invested in the present system). As a consequence, most significant steps forward (not simply refinements, but steps forward) come from people outside of that discipline, who do not have a lot invested in the present status quo.

It seems to me that journalists have a paradigm that they are taught and in which they are heavily invested. They may very well be unable to think in new paradigms and perhaps not even know it. They have been taught to think a certain way (usually adversarial—and seeking the truth and communicating the truth is not necessarily adversarial). They too often view themselves as crusaders fighting for the rights of the uninformed—often not by simply informing, but editorializing and telling others how they should ‘feel about an issue.’ They too often are prima donnas, thinking their role is something the public neither has granted them nor desires from them. They seem to have an iconoclast mentality—while the public does not.

Obviously, that is painting with ‘too broad a brush’. I am sure, that in their eyes, they are truth seekers, prophets without honor, banding together for mutual support and encouragement. But as idyllic as that they would like that view to be, is not the view of the public. So, which one is true? As long as journalists either refuse or are incapable of seeing themselves as the public sees them, of understanding how the public feels towards them, they adopt a paradigm that will increasingly guarantee that fewer and few listen.

The obvious truth is that in order to effectively communicate ‘truth’ you have to know ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’ (which cuts across political lines) and then know your audience. They spend so much time in their paradigm invested communities, they really do not know the people that they are wanting to speak to.

Anyway, those are a few thoughts I had this week.

Posted by: swats at May 28, 2007 11:40 AM | Permalink

Q. Last Week That Man Tried to Run You Over. Why Are You Having Dinner With Him?

A. Because he pays your salary
A. Because whoever the party or political slant, the Gov still gets in. And that is the bummer :)

Posted by: robmac at May 30, 2007 11:09 AM | Permalink

From the Intro