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PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine
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Like PressThink? More from the same pen:

Read about Jay Rosen's book, What Are Journalists For?

Excerpt from Chapter One of What Are Journalists For? "As Democracy Goes, So Goes the Press."

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.

"Web Users Open the Gates." My take on ten years of Internet journalism, at

Read: Q & As

Jay Rosen, interviewed about his work and ideas by journalist Richard Poynder

Achtung! Interview in German with a leading German newspaper about the future of newspapers and the Net.

Audio: Have a Listen

Listen to an audio interview with Jay Rosen conducted by journalist Christopher Lydon, October 2003. It's about the transformation of the journalism world by the Web.

Five years later, Chris Lydon interviews Jay Rosen again on "the transformation." (March 2008, 71 minutes.)

Interview with host Brooke Gladstone on NPR's "On the Media." (Dec. 2003) Listen here.

Presentation to the Berkman Center at Harvard University on open source journalism and NewAssignment.Net. Downloadable mp3, 70 minutes, with Q and A. Nov. 2006.

Video: Have A Look

Half hour video interview with Robert Mills of the American Microphone series. On blogging, journalism, NewAssignment.Net and distributed reporting.

Jay Rosen explains the Web's "ethic of the link" in this four-minute YouTube clip.

"The Web is people." Jay Rosen speaking on the origins of the World Wide Web. (2:38)

One hour video Q & A on why the press is "between business models" (June 2008)

Recommended by PressThink:

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.

Eschaton by Atrios (pen name of Duncan B;ack) is one of the most well established political weblogs, with big traffic and very active comment threads. Left-liberal.

Terry Teachout is a cultural critic coming from the Right at his weblog, About Last Night. Elegantly written and designed. Plus he has lots to say about art and culture today.

Dave Winer is the software wiz who wrote the program that created the modern weblog. He's also one of the best practicioners of the form. Scripting News is said to be the oldest living weblog. Read it over time and find out why it's one of the best.

If someone were to ask me, "what's the right way to do a weblog?" I would point them to Doc Searls, a tech writer and sage who has been doing it right for a long time.

Ed Cone writes one of the most useful weblogs by a journalist. He keeps track of the Internet's influence on politics, as well developments in his native North Carolina. Always on top of things.

Rebecca's Pocket by Rebecca Blood is a weblog by an exemplary practitioner of the form, who has also written some critically important essays on its history and development, and a handbook on how to blog.

Dan Gillmor used to be the tech columnist and blogger for the San Jose Mercury News. He now heads a center for citizen media. This is his blog about it.

A former senior editor at Pantheon, Tom Englehardt solicits and edits commentary pieces that he publishes in blog form at TomDispatches. High-quality political writing and cultural analysis.

Chris Nolan's Spot On is political writing at a high level from Nolan and her band of left-to-right contributors. Her notion of blogger as a "stand alone journalist" is a key concept; and Nolan is an exemplar of it.

Barista of Bloomfield Avenue is journalist Debbie Galant's nifty experiment in hyper-local blogging in several New Jersey towns. Hers is one to watch if there's to be a future for the weblog as news medium.

The Editor's Log, by John Robinson, is the only real life honest-to-goodness weblog by a newspaper's top editor. Robinson is the blogging boss of the Greensboro News-Record and he knows what he's doing.

Fishbowl DC is about the world of Washington journalism. Gossip, controversies, rituals, personalities-- and criticism. Good way to keep track of the press tribe in DC

PJ Net Today is written by Leonard Witt and colleagues. It's the weblog of the Public Journalisn Network (I am a founding member of that group) and it follows developments in citizen-centered journalism.

Here's Simon Waldman's blog. He's the Director of Digital Publishing for The Guardian in the UK, the world's most Web-savvy newspaper. What he says counts.

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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February 6, 2009

It Took 23 Years, But I Finally Got to Give My View of the National Press on National Television

I was a guest on Bill Moyers Journal (PBS, Feb. 6) along with Salon's Glenn Greenwald. We talked about pundits and reporters as an establishment institution, and whether Obama can be a disruptive force.

The segment was 22 minutes: three people at a table puzzling through the week’s events, and trying to set them within larger patterns. Watch here. Transcript is here. My main reason for posting is to open a comment thread for those who watched and might have something to say. So go ahead.

I recalled for Moyers how Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s deputy, later described the people running the Bush White House as radicals. Wilkerson’s piece is reproduced here. That Wilkerson—an insider, a Republican—might have been right was too much for the category mind of the press. His description got consigned to the sphere of deviance.

Was that necessary? I say no.

The predicate for my appearance on Bill Moyers Journal was this PressThink post, Audience Atomization Overcome (Why the Internet Weakens the Authority of the Press) and a subsequent podcast interview with Glenn Greenwald at about the arguments I therein. Moyers has big ears. He heard it, and the show was born.

Audience Atomization Overcome is probably PressThink’s most-linked-to and discussed post ever— in the political blogosphere. Just scroll through the After Matter section to see what I mean. In the political press-o-sphere, not a word was said about it. Literally.

I have been studying the national press since I received my PhD in 1986. This is the first time I have been able to unfold my own view of it on national television. So thank you very much, Bill Moyers and PBS. It felt great. (Here’s a speech Moyers gave to the Media Reform Conference that I recommend often to young journalists. “It’s your fight now. Look around. You are not alone.”)

Thanks to Glenn Greenwald for posting and podcasting about my writings and lending his platform—one of the biggest in blogging—to some of my words. I like Glenn because he is serious about what he does.

PressThink readers who missed the show can watch it online and tell me what you think.

Posted by Jay Rosen at February 6, 2009 11:57 PM   Print


I'm watching right now... you got me thinking... I'm adding this site to my favorites... gotta go watch the rest of the show...
-Rob - Portland, OR

Posted by: Rob at February 7, 2009 12:18 AM | Permalink

I agree with Rob...I'm watching now and love the way Bill Moyers informs us.
GRB Beaverton, OR

Posted by: Gary at February 7, 2009 12:24 AM | Permalink

I thought you were great. I reflexively think of the media as "liberal", but it was enlightening to consider they are merely part of the institution. Loved the point about behaviorism.


Posted by: Maryann Sasaki at February 7, 2009 12:31 AM | Permalink

Great that Bill gave you a louder platform to point out the corrosive effects of the Washington bubble, of which the national media are so important a part. A shame that the discussion of the possible impact of the internet was so brief at the end there. Nevertheless, I think what came over quite strongly was the sense that this is a moment of real potential for change, for fracture in the ideological hegemony of the establishment, for ideas otherwise readily dismissed as 'radical' or 'far left' or simply laughable to finally get a hearing in the public sphere. Because the public sphere itself has become a more contested, dynamic, and fractious place, which is all to the good. Nice work all round.

Posted by: Ed Webb at February 7, 2009 12:34 AM | Permalink

How can I best communicate my support to the Obama administration so that they do not weaken in their resolve to institute massive stimulus which includes the necessary support to the states, the deep funding for education and the funding of computerized national medical records and ultimately national medical insurance?

Posted by: Anne Herman at February 7, 2009 12:40 AM | Permalink

J A Y,

I just finished watching you and Glen on The Journal. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!.
I am a disabled Viet Nam vet. When I first
went to Nam in 67-68 I was a diehard Republican
from 12 WWII war heroes and raised by a born-again religous WWII Marine preacher. All that changed in a matter of a few weeks in the Delta in Nam
The lesson there was where do Americans really get
their TRUTH? And today I still ask the same question. Where do the Americans really get their
Further, what can I do to give the truth to people
that don't believe it? Seriously, look how long it took you to speak the truth on National TV!
Congratulations! Keep it up! Could you let me know what is the most effective way to be heard
and to what websites we should go to-to really make a difference and---get a response on some intelligent level besides name calling. Americans are not stupid they
are just ignorant of what is going on around them.

Posted by: David at February 7, 2009 12:45 AM | Permalink

That was quite a powerful presentation, too bad the establishment fails to understand the concepts discussed. Send a memo!
Jan Los Angeles, Ca.

Posted by: jan SCHMIDT at February 7, 2009 12:49 AM | Permalink

Hey Jay,
Nice work! "The internet runs two ways!"

It takes a while to get the hang of TV and I fear your threads were too thoughtfully long for TV. I hate to say this (hate it hate it) but.. maybe chunking them into smaller bits would make it more understandable for ppl not familiar with your blog, thoughts and ideas. I read you already so I knew what you were talking about, but I played it just now in a room full of ppl on a big screen and I stopped to discuss and explain now and then.

Your ideas are radical and necessary for sure. And while it may take time, i know these thoughts and your work will succeed. But i saw the wideness of where many smart ppl are, and where this blog is now, with new eyes.

But overall I really liked it! Congrats!

Posted by: mary hodder at February 7, 2009 1:04 AM | Permalink

After following your Twitter stream, it was certainly interesting to see a more animated version of @jayrosen_nyu.

The one point that truly struck a chord with me was the narrative that you (in response to Moyer's question) said wasn't being told: that the political class cannot solve the problems it created.

Ancillary question: was there a reason you and Glenn Greenwald almost never addressed each other directly, even when referencing a point the other made? It made it feel less like natural conversation and more like journalistic theatre.

Posted by: Steven Walling at February 7, 2009 1:09 AM | Permalink

Another great reason for watching Bill Moyers. You and Glenn greenwald clearly spelled out why we seldom get the facts, even though it is discouraging. Glad to find your blog and will check in often.thank you

Posted by: Donna Daniel at February 7, 2009 1:10 AM | Permalink

Solid progress with the Moyers appearance, I say. The atomization article has been the basis of my thought pattern for a couple weeks now and I encourage everyone to keep linking to it. The incestuous Establishment-Press Corps dynamic is *the* obstacle facing Obama and his movement. I'm now convinced that citizen journalism is in fact the only way out of this hell. Just like Obama supporters felt compelled to step outside our comfort zones and go canvassing during the campaign, it's now imperative to use every venue we have to nitpick the establishment and its media lapdogs, and to demand radical transparency a la Jeff Jarvis and the FOIA override proposal.

Posted by: Daniel Doyle at February 7, 2009 1:18 AM | Permalink

the political class cannot solve the problems it created.

Awesome! you have a new reader Jay.

Posted by: normd [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 7, 2009 1:22 AM | Permalink

Great to see you on Moyers, tonight. I have long been a reader of Glenn's and and happy to add your site to my daily reading. I hope that you are right about the two way nature of the internet being able to finally get the attention of those in the beltway - both from elected class and the media. Moyers closing comments nailed the sentiment I think so many are feeling -"life is not fair but it might be a little more fair if the shackles of despair were attached to the well heeled." (I paraphrase). Good luck to you and all of us toward that day of slightly increased fairness....

Posted by: ChuckB at February 7, 2009 1:25 AM | Permalink

How do you recommend people support / influence Obama to keep his campaign promises?

On Bill Moyers show, it was said only pressure from those who elected Obama can help him make change.

What email address?
What topics do you see as key for this week?

For example, how to I contact Oboma online? And once I do, does anyone have key 'talking points' for this week's challenges?
I would dearly like to give some sort of weekly feedback, but where/how does the common citizen best put pressure on Washington?
I'd be delighted to tell Obama to keep putting pressure on Congress to pass the stimulus package - to make sure that any bailouts to financial corporations include caps on salaries for CEO's - to pass legislation / money for renewable energy, not nuclear or coal, etc.

Any suggestions?

Posted by: Melanie at February 7, 2009 2:07 AM | Permalink

Why is it that Rush Limbaugh can continually broadbrush "The Media" with the endlessly pejorative Liberal label? He is as much of the entrenched media as any journalist from the New York Times. American citizens have much to think about. We can no longer be non-thinking, slavish idealogues.

Posted by: Peter LaTorre at February 7, 2009 2:10 AM | Permalink

I think President Obama is trying very hard to fix this huge mess. However, I believe he is going about it the wrong way. He is listening to the "experts", but wasn't it these "experts" who played a huge part in creating this mess to begin with? I think he should get some feedback from us, the taxpayers, the ones losing their homes, their jobs, the ones who aren't sure how they will buy food next week. I'm sorry, but I just don't understand how people who are making millions of dollars a year know what it is like out here. President Obama wants to trim the fat in our government, yet he is asking the people who are enjoying that fat to cut it. He should ask the average Joe how to trim the fat, after all,, we are the ones doing without to make ends meet. We aren't flying in private jets, we are telling our children they can't particapate in a activity because the family has to cut cost in order to make ends meet. We are the ones who know how to trim the fat, mostly because we didn't have it to begin with. Right now the "American Dream" is gone. Right now, at this point in time, my children have no hope of owning their own home. They have very, very little hope of having a stable future for their families. And the reason why, as I see it, is because there are a few in high places who want more and more money,and they are willing to do anything to get more. This is the month we celebrate President Lincoln, honest Abe, what happened to putting honest people in these positions of power. And why are there people making careers in Washington. That is not what are Founding Fathers intented, and that is another reason our country is in this mess. When I was in school I was told,"Get your education, and you can get a good job, a job that will be safe, you won't have to worry about layoffs like your dad" And let, with my education I have no job, and the jobs I apply for I'm either over educated, which by the way means that the new boss is afraid you will take their job, or that I'm not educated enough. So what did all that money, and time get me. Nothing! And that is exactly what I see in the future for my children.

Posted by: Sharon at February 7, 2009 2:32 AM | Permalink

I’ve been e-mailing Washington, (senator/candidate/President) Obama, and the major newspaper editors now for over a year, on what issues I know (or feel) need to be addressed. After seeing you and Glenn Greenwald on The Journal, I don’t feel like such a nut anymore...sorta.

Thank you for your incredible insight into what I was up to - but didn’t myself - see.

Posted by: Olaf Brescia at February 7, 2009 2:38 AM | Permalink

Excellent discussion. Throughout I recalled when I was a news cameraperson in DC in the '80s and how the TV "reporters" would walk around the White House using their "TV voices" all the time.

Posted by: Bob at February 7, 2009 6:36 AM | Permalink

While it was refreshing to have Jay Rosen's and Glenn Greenwald's views on the current state of political journalism aired on national television, I found an unfortunate omission in the discussion - the ties of political media to corporate elites.

Mainstream media doesn't exist in a vacuum. Behind every powerful newspaper, mainstream news reporter, and television journalist lies an equally powerful corporation with interests in the status quo, and contributions to the political parties, pulling the levers. How convenient to omit this because PBS is itself supported by some of these corporations. Rosen and Greenwald's got it partially right but by presenting their ideas in this disingenuous manner, viewers were at least partially misled.

Posted by: ltdunn at February 7, 2009 6:57 AM | Permalink

4th Estate, social change, or propaganda?

What we are taught, controls what we do. Paraphrasing Lenin, but a lesson from history. Or why you think you have controlled schools in the Catholic/Christian, Muslim and like faiths?

"An educated, informed and active citizenry; is hard to fool or enslave."

Sadly we are badly educated, misinformed and even deliberately lied to, and then we wonder why we do little, have apathy and then wonder why we are in a camp waiting for a shower?

5th estate then is the bureaucracy, namely those who no matter who is in "power" have a job and really control things.

Mainstream media, have control of the airwaves, cable and internet. After all, they are controlled by corporate bodies, many who often seem to be monopolies?

Example, where did the presidents war powers act go, that limits the president to 100,000 troops for a limited time, but congress keeps talking about ending the war, but they have the power, they just have to say NO, and the above act supposedly comes in play?

Wag the Dog - way to dodge the issues and take peoples attention else wheres..

What connections does Pelosi and Cheney have when it comes to the major corporations that are part of the war machine? Pelosi - husband a military contractor? Cheney former VP of Haliburton (major contracts, cause they was the only ones who could do it? as well as wife supposedly on the board of Lockheed? Lockheed that was going into the red before 2003?

US is watching China on control of the internet, after all, what is next?

Oil/Gas and distribution, until we get the major power providers demanding changes, nothing much will really happen when it comes to green, gas/fuel and move to better cars? Oil/Gas and Auto companies love the status quo.

Ever read a book by H.Beam Piper "Lord Kalvan" about a alternate reality where a minor healing religion finds out how to make gunpowder and then moves to control the way/means of using gunpowder, so the guns they have are very inefficient, why, so you have to burn more gunpowder, and they have a monopoly on things, so they dictate who is in power, if you go against them, you suddenly find yourself invaded.

Sounds familiar? or not?


Posted by: Mike Adams at February 7, 2009 7:31 AM | Permalink

I always look forward to Bill Moyers unconventional perspective, as well as his unconventional guests. Both the names Jay Rosen and Glenn Greenwald are not unfamiliar to like-minded liberal, political junkies -however, I was almost as taken aback -pleasantly, I might add- as was Bill Moyers when Jay ever so casually replied that part od the problem with our infamous MSM is that "journalists are primarily Behaviorists..."

"Wow," I thought to myself -and Bill Moyers said "what did you say?"
"That's some deep shit," I thought, as I suddenly became far more focused on the remainder of the program...

I'm sorry it took this long to make your mainstream debute -but I am not at all surprised that it came about through the efforts of Bill Moyers... He is truly an institution in his own right...

Keep up the good work...


Posted by: lawrence at February 7, 2009 7:44 AM | Permalink

Thanks to the three of you last evening. I found the discussion enlightening. Problem is that most people only listen to and believe what the mainstream press gives them to digest. Sound bites do not add to ones knowledge at all.
Hopefully people will wake up and realize what is happening. Then again, they are not watching the three of you, are they?

Posted by: Barbara at February 7, 2009 8:08 AM | Permalink

Congrats, Jay!

Thanks for the excellent discussion- can we have more of this, please?

I can't know if those in power are listening back, but at least we can hear each other, and so maybe it doesn't matter quite so much if they do or they don't. Let's make them irrelevant!

Posted by: Cougarhutch at February 7, 2009 9:01 AM | Permalink

I live and work in Hudson, New York.
We are losing jobs by the dozens and people have no information and few resources to assist in this crisis.
We have a government that does not reach out to the needs of the people except when it is time to pay taxes and bail out the big boys.
It is time to "act" I agree totally with your comments.
We are a land of the sleeping consumers.
Thanks for the comments and I would gladly give you a tour of my neighborhood so you can see up close the realities of a stressed community.
We elected Kirsten Gillibrand and now have launched her into the Senate.
We are part of the picture of America that needs a bigger voice.
We have the farms, the water, and more.
We have the keys to open doors that will create the next wave for 21st Century America.
We need to stop gorging ourselves with oil and move toward a place than can sustain and a place with a future.
It is time to look outside for some answers to the problems that haunt us in our new century. We are in the boat together whether we like it or not.

Posted by: Linda Mussmann at February 7, 2009 9:22 AM | Permalink

Allow me to be a contrarian here. While I respect your overall views on the media, when it comes to specifics, I think your politics interferred with your message.

For instance, you said "And one of the reasons why Daschle concluded that he had to go was that his own actions kind of undermine the spirit of Obama's own message." Sorry, but I don't buy it. Daschle isn't an idiot -- he knew what Obama's "message" was, and that he "undermined the spirit" of that message going in.

If you look at the reporting, its clear that there were people very close to Obama who were leaking damaging information to undermine Daschle. Daschle is savvy enough to read the writing on the wall -- that even if he succeeded in getting confirmed, it would be a pyrrhic victory at best, because Daschle would from that point on be defined by the "scandals" and "questions" surrounding him.

And Senators weren't "stunned" that Daschle withdrew because of the "probabilities seemed to be that Daschle would get [confirmed]". They were stunned because Team Obama had orchestrated a showing of public support for Daschle by Obama and prominent Senators the day before. They went out on a limb for Daschle, despite his tax problems, and then Daschle withdraws his nomination for no obvious reason (The "Daschle tried to get Hindery the Commerce job" story that appeared in the Times that morning wasn't the kind of earth-shaking scandal that would force a withdrawal; as I noted above, it was the obvious source of the story that lead Daschle to withdraw.)
And Greenwald's understanding of the press during the Bush administration is simplistic at best (Greenwald is great on certain issues like torture, but his media criticism (unlike yours) is based wholly on his ideology.) While Bush did enjoy the traditional "honeymoon" period (that Clinton didn't get), by the summer of 2001 there had been a shift in the tone of the coverage (and a significant decline in Bush's approval ratings.) It wasn't until 9-11 that the media really went into the tank for Bush (and stayed there until Katrina).

Indeed, Greenwald's observations were so tainted by his own ideology that they detracted from the overall impact of the piece. Your critique of the media is based on process and structure -- and while it may be colored by your politics/ideology, it maintains its value as a critique of the media. And unfortunately, because Greenwald was agreeing with you and expanding on what you had to say, your process/structural critique came off as far more political/ideological than what your regular readers have come to expect.

Posted by: p.lukasiak [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 7, 2009 10:53 AM | Permalink

I was glad to hear you on the Bill Moyers program. You have captured the essence of what we need to do now. Emphasize "we, the people". The internet and blogs do open up the playing field. I remain suspicious of polls and their impact on shaping public opinion. These are activist times and we must be heard. Politics as usual will not work! Thank you for your work!!!

Posted by: Martha at February 7, 2009 10:58 AM | Permalink

I have watched you twice now. The question about demonstrating came up and I'm sad to say that our country has systematically made it almost impossible to gather and have our say without a permit and in some cases pay. Our rights have been almost taken away. But, the internet can and hopefully be a conduit for activism before that's taken away.

Pam in Oregon

Posted by: Pam J at February 7, 2009 11:09 AM | Permalink

Keep up the great work. Hopefully, you can reach enough American's to inspire them to do what is right for this nation to survive. Thank you!!!

Posted by: D. Worley at February 7, 2009 11:13 AM | Permalink

Being a big fan of all three of you and also being basically greedy, all I can say is, "More!"

Interesting sidelight:

Bill Moyers has come on Friday 10PM on my local PBS outlet for years and this week's schedule showed nothing different. I dutifully turned on my outlet at the appointed time to watch the show and was treated to a repeat of the PBS NOW 9:30PM broadcast. At 10:30, another repeat of NOW. I was not happy, and called the station's number, but no answer. (I wound up watching at the PBS website.)

Sphere of deviance?

Posted by: rollotomasi at February 7, 2009 11:15 AM | Permalink

Hello Jay,
A bit of Canadian perspective...
I, too, watched the interview and found it useful.People where I live - in Nova Scotia - are presently much interested in the phenomenon of Internet journalism, and its corollary, the death of the newspaper. Our regional daily, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, is facing difficult times and just might close after more than a century and a half of publication. The only other daily available to us is the Toronto Globe and Mail (known to cynics as the Grope and Flail), a bloated organ filled with fluff and breathless news about southern Ontario.
The trouble with online news, it seems to me, is lack of credibility. How can one evaluate the work of someone who essentially cannot be called to account for inaccuracy, rumors, and fabrication? Newspaper journalists have their feet held continuously to the fire; the hack in the basement does not.
I like the physicality of a newspaper. I can spread it out on my table and get toast crumbs on it while I read the op-ed page and peruse the comics. Can't do that with my monitor.
Some turn to television for news, but it is a medium poorly suited to most stories and completely unsuitable for serious investigative work.
Long live print news!

Posted by: Terry Pearson at February 7, 2009 12:50 PM | Permalink

Millions of Americans want desperately to influence President Obama. We need him to stand strong against the forces of the status quo in D.C.. After the discussion last night on Bill Moyer's Journal it's even more evident that we must use the power of the internet, the power of the streets, the power of our voices, to stand strong with him. He cannot do this alone; he needs us. So far all I've been doing is going to the, clicking on "Contact Us", writing emails to the "Public Liason Office" and calling the comment lines but I don't think that I'm doing enough and I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness, though I'm sure others must be writing him, too. How can we do more to really make a difference?

Posted by: Ann Woods at February 7, 2009 12:55 PM | Permalink

Terrific show!! Both you and Glenn were right on about Obama being a threat to the establishment but we all have to make sure he is the change agent he claims he is. He won't do it without us pushing him. We should all be happy when the establishment media reports disfavorably about what he is doing. We should force the media to report what we want them to report; write letters and make phone calls to the press. We can force them, too. We can stop watching them and stop buying their papers if they aren't reporting stories accurately. Maybe we don't have the will to demonstrate in the streets anymore which makes me sad but we can demonstrate in other ways. It's our country not the establishment's. We can make the changes happen; the election was only the first step.

Posted by: Carolyn Knoll at February 7, 2009 1:03 PM | Permalink

Jay! I watched Bill Moyers Journal last night and wanted to extend my thank you to all involved. I am soooo excited at the level of dialect in the conversation!!! This, I believe is what the country needs. A real informed citizenry with the power to think and question and find answers and change what isn't working through information.
The mainstream media is an abomination and will be discredited! ..
Thank you again!

Posted by: Claudia at February 7, 2009 1:06 PM | Permalink

I have been watching in frustration for years now as the media become the problem. As you said it is not a bias one way or another but they have forgotten what their jobs are. They seem to think that access to the top people for a big "get" interview is journalism. To keep that access they have to become insiders, not the outsiders checking the facts. I have watched as politicians time and again come onto these shows and make statement that completely incorrect and do not match the facts. Yet the media lets the statement pass never questioning the basic facts in their statements because to challenge them might lead to them loosing access. To them a lack of access means they are no longer journalist because they are not on the inside. Journalist should be on the outside looking in, not on the inside looking out and analyzing who is winning the inside game. I remain pessimistic that we can change that thinking. I do not think the internet with its varied chorus of voices, good and bad, is unifying enough to provide the impetus we need. I am truly concerned where all of this will lead. A democracy needs a independent media to remain a democracy. I am not sure we have one anymore.

Posted by: roger at February 7, 2009 1:18 PM | Permalink


You and Glenn were terrific on the show last night, particularly in talking about the behaviorism of the press and its need to maintain the appearance of savviness in matters of politics. As a frequent reader of PressThink and Glenn's blog, it was great for me to finally hear both of you speak.

Posted by: Anthony Salveggi at February 7, 2009 1:29 PM | Permalink

Jay - really enjoyed the topic, the dialogue, and the assessments by you and Glenn. Not sure I heard though any suggestions as to how we can have (radical) change come to the establishment (press, politics). Still loved the discussion and points of view between the three of you. Insightful and very refreshing!

Thanks, Mohamed.

Posted by: Mohamed Amer at February 7, 2009 1:41 PM | Permalink

As you deal with a controversial issue, there always seems to be a 600 pound gorilla in the room, nobody dares to talk about. In case of discussing the ‘media’, as many other situations, it is the fear of losing one’s job and in case of the media it means avoiding those subjects, you assume your boss does not want to be exposed. The same is true for many staff workers working for people with responsibility. Where else does the expression: “Don’t kill the messenger” comes from?
It is up to the bosses themselves to get their employees to tell them what is really going on, so they can make the right decisions. Way too often bosses are held accountable, while they have been misinformed by their own staffs. Isn’t that the same if the media, not employed by the public (except NPR and PBS who have their own set of criteria), are not informing the public.

Posted by: Peter Maier at February 7, 2009 1:48 PM | Permalink

Jay, Just heard you on Bill's Journal this morning. I would like to be a part of the grass root of people that moved Obama forward, for I think they will be the group that moves our country forward. I am retired and cn devote some time to that effort. My background is education, not journalism, but what you and Glenn said have been my independent tinking for some time. Do you know of a local group near Chico, California with whom I could communicate?

Posted by: Rick Light at February 7, 2009 1:51 PM | Permalink

Great show!
The first rationale explanation for what happened in the Senate, and the media, last night. I seldom watch CSPAN or CSPAN2 but decided to watch "democracy in action" while the Senate debated and voted on a series of amendments to the Stimulus Package. It was priceless to see John McCain describe his reaction to the speeches of Sens. Susan Collins and Arlen Specter announcing the agreement as an "Orwellian experience".
Our daughter was an intern to Bill Moyers during her college years, and we have been great fans ever since.
I look forward to following PressThink and in the years ahead!
I agree that it is necessary to help force the changes that Obama has articulated and is attempting to lead.

Posted by: Ken Friedenbach at February 7, 2009 2:08 PM | Permalink

As always, after listening to Moyers on Friday nights, I feel some comfort in knowing there are smart people out there who continue to struggle to make sense of a political and economic establishment that's ruining the country. Bill's editorial short piece at the end was classic Moyers, crisp, direct, a stab straight to the heart of the establishment, mincing no words.

Sadly, the hope I'd placed in Obama is fading fast. The notion of 'all form no substance' is radidly pertaining. More important then, that we hold collective feet to the fire. Why am I disappointed - Daschle is an archetype of my despair. How dare Obama appoint this man after the promises he made during the campaign, to purge the influence of insiders from the system. Then, the reactive media, afraid of its own shadow and more to the point of the show, focuses on taxes and not on the millions of dollars of vested interest Daschle has and would bring to the post. And Obama's public response to Geithner's tax problems was anemic at best...No big deal, he said, a simple mistake.

The question for me over the next months will be - is Obama just another narcissistic politician or will he be able to balance his need for attention and traditional success with an idea of freedom that challenges the way most americans have been living, and certainly challenges our major political, economic and media

That said, a great appearance by both you and Glenn. I'm a new fan.

Posted by: bill in seattle at February 7, 2009 2:19 PM | Permalink

I saw you on Bill Moyers' Journal last night and it was just about the best television I have ever seen. It soothed the increasing rage I have been feeling over the past several weeks as I have listened to the press treat as serious the Republican claims that our economic problems can be cured by tax cuts. Suddenly it was clear that there is another agenda and that we need to break through it. But suddenly I began to believe that yes, we can.

Posted by: Sandra at February 7, 2009 2:39 PM | Permalink

I wish everyone could have watched Bill Moyer last night. I agree 100% with your comments on this manipulatioin that the media has been doing for a number of years. I couldn't believe that PBS was actually airing your point of view, I would like to hear someone try and defend the lopsided information forced upon the public by the general media. We should hear more about 9-11
all that information is a bunch of lies fed to us by the general media.

Posted by: George at February 7, 2009 2:48 PM | Permalink

One of the biggest problems we have is that the press has become quite monolithic, with huge corporations controlling large segments of the media.

Obama now has his man in the FCC, and a majority of FCC commissioners are Democrats. What should Obama do to change the game of corporate media ownership, and to secure net neutrality? It seems to me that this is one area that could really have long term impact on our democracy.

Posted by: Ramon Creager at February 7, 2009 2:52 PM | Permalink

Fantastic...thanks to you I don't feel alone, especially about the need of the media to feel "experts" about everything, to keep control. Thanks thank and I'll keep up with your comments.

Posted by: MKN at February 7, 2009 2:53 PM | Permalink

My husband and I very much enjoyed you two on Bill Moyer's Journal. I think the internet is the best invention in our lifetime. We no longer have to rely on the MSM for our news. There are day when I would love to see the pundits in the unemployment line but that would just further hurt our contry.

Posted by: sandyboy42 at February 7, 2009 3:05 PM | Permalink

I became a reader of Glenn Greenwald after seeing him with Moyers several weeks ago. After last night I will be reading your blog as well. The media is part of the DC establishment and will do whatever it can to keep the status quo. Republican, Democrat, right or left doesn't matter just don't rock the boat. We need people like you, Glenn and Bill to keep us truly informed. Thanks, and congratulations on your new 'celebrity'.

Posted by: joey white at February 7, 2009 3:05 PM | Permalink

Jay, I watched the Bill Moyers show last night and was thrilled to hear both you and Glen Greenwald. I am not familiar with blogging so now am determined to get involved! Thank all three of you for the excellent program. Bill Moyers has always been an absolute favorite of mine. Yes We Can!

Posted by: Yvette at February 7, 2009 4:36 PM | Permalink

Your appearance with Glenn Greenwald on Bill Moyers was fascinating & vindicating as one who frequently feels like one of those dirty f***ing hippies from the fringe when it comes to political press coverage, shouting at the pundits; why aren't you asking this, talking about that! The optimism of you & Glenn Greenwald that the internet can be the vehicle to change the way public discourse and debate takes place in America on political issues gives me hope. Al Gore's book, "The Assault on Reason" posits that the internet can be the conduit through which Americans reclaim...government by the people. Sure am glad Bill Moyers has big ears! Leave it to him to find the guests who think outside the box.

Posted by: Linda Valley at February 7, 2009 5:03 PM | Permalink

I am frustrated with the Washington elite. I am insulted that they consider me invisable. I want to get their attention and send them this message. I am here. I am listening. I know what you are about. Turn the ship around!

It was eye-opening seeing Jay and Glen on B Moyers. Thanks for all you do.

Posted by: Dennis Baum at February 7, 2009 5:58 PM | Permalink

Enjoyed your comments on Moyers/very refreshing/have often said that the Bush Admin was full of radical extremists so was glad to hear others noticed/also am a fan of Amy Goodman and enjoyed the comments about never seeing her on Meet The Press/that'll be the day!

Posted by: Sarah at February 7, 2009 7:01 PM | Permalink


You should read this from 1992: The Return of the Expressed.

After writing this polemic against GHW Bush, Jay blinded himself to the fact that Bill Clinton was exactly the "thin self, the extraordinary feel" politician ("I feel your pain, it's the economy stupid") Jay described.

Can you hear the resonance in the comments above? Can you find the chord?

Think about the fallacy in Jay's reasoning. The same institutional press that restrains powerful "liberal" radicalism, is inept when faced with powerful radicals Jay hates.

Posted by: Tim at February 7, 2009 7:49 PM | Permalink

Jay, thanks to you and Glenn and Bill too. A refreshing breath of fresh air in the stale vaporlock of "newshours."

I really think that Obama has to reach outside the Clinton/Beltway retreads and Senate Patricians (the Senate - our House of Lords with Their Hands Out). It will be harder than the Greek who searched for one honest man, but he has to find men and women who can't be bought - by money, power or ideology. Where are the people who believe government exists for the people and by the people, and not the people with silver spoons in their mouths?

One sure way to shake up the press elite is to make them interview people who are not beholden to them.

Posted by: Bob K at February 7, 2009 7:53 PM | Permalink

Jay, thanks to you and Glenn and Bill too. A refreshing breath of fresh air in the stale vaporlock of "newshours."

I really think that Obama has to reach outside the Clinton/Beltway retreads and Senate Patricians (the Senate - our House of Lords with Their Hands Out). It will be harder than the Greek who searched for one honest man, but he has to find men and women who can't be bought - by money, power or ideology. Where are the people who believe government exists for the people and by the people, and not the people with silver spoons in their mouths?

One sure way to shake up the press elite is to make them interview people who are not beholden to them.

Posted by: Bob K at February 7, 2009 7:53 PM | Permalink

Dear Jay,

I enjoyed the program. Bill Moyers usually does not make my television screen. This program was interesting, and it points out that the mainstream media clearly is part of the political system, particularly because whether its left-leaning or right-leaning the media protrays what it wants the public to hear. Your point that the internet allows the public to give its point of view to the polictical establishment is very true and important!

President Obama's actions this last week were very disappointing. His speech in Virginia was polarizing. He is missing the point of what the American public is saying about the Pork Tree spending bill that is being ram-rodded through Congress. We want a stimulus bill, but we want it to be well-thought out! We want Congress and the President to act in a bi-partisan way, but not in a rash way.

Congress and this President need to think through all the dollars, particularly since they will not have an immediate effect on the economy. A week or two more of thoughtful spending plans is more important that just merely passing a pork tree bill. Whether its tax cuts or spending, the bill needs to be examined and Congress needs time to study it. Could you have imagined spending a billion dollars in thirty days two years ago? Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid do not have a mandate to ram through a bill and spend precious tax dollars in a careless manner.

Thank you. Hopefully, the mainstream media will understand this point and explain it to the President and to Congress.

Posted by: Kurt S at February 7, 2009 8:04 PM | Permalink

You were fantastic on Bill Moyers last night -- I've re-watched the segment a couple times now and it's some of the best rhetoric that I've seen on TV, ever. I thank you for getting your voice out there and I sincerely hope Obama uses his potential for political disturbance to everyone's benefit.

Posted by: Emily at February 7, 2009 8:31 PM | Permalink

jay-i really thought your comment about bush and cheney being the true radicals was great. you have a new reader.


Posted by: john at February 7, 2009 9:15 PM | Permalink

I spent the Bush years feeling like I was no longer living in America. Sometimes it felt like I was the only person who felt that way. I have not liked what is happening with Obama up to this point either, and I was was captivated to hear your interview and to feel less alone than I have felt in a long time. I taped a later version of the show and have watched it twice more. It does mean something to know that other people feel the same way and to think there is a possibility of an external group forcing change. Thank you. You have a new reader.

Posted by: John G. at February 7, 2009 9:48 PM | Permalink

I come from the Bill Moyers show and am just discovering you. As I watched I could tell you have major brilliance. Your creative force is strong. And I want to thank you for bubbling up the things I was unable to fathom before I heard your discourse. The behaviorists, the savyness, the two way internet. Floored me. And to the coment about you and Glenn not clicking together, as if some political thearter. I noticed- but one has to realize you guys are not old school chums. I was struck how the two pointed argument brought light to the liberal media myth. I have always realized the media panders to the right. And daily we hear just the opposite. NOW I see why. The conversation was nicely parleyed by Glenn talking about the partnership reached during Monica Lewinski times. The idea should be a book. After all he is a constitutional lawyer- its a deep story I am sure.
I feel like you politcal thoughts are pure- a deep source of wisdom. Luck to you.

Posted by: John J Ferrari at February 7, 2009 10:51 PM | Permalink

After writing this polemic against GHW Bush, Jay blinded himself to the fact that Bill Clinton was exactly the "thin self, the extraordinary feel" politician ("I feel your pain, it's the economy stupid") Jay described.
Tim, the article you cited was published in Feb 1992, "I feel your pain" comes from April 1992.

And "Its the economy, stupid" was about the focus of the campaign, not a message that Clinton was supposed to send -- (the first line of the sign was, wait for it... "Change vs more of the same", the final line was "don't forget health care").
I do agree that Jay's politics showed through there by focussing on Bush. McGinnisses "The Selling of the President" was about the 1968 campaign, and should have been called "The Marketing of the President" within the distinction between "selling" and "marketing" that Jay makes in that article.

The transition from substance (seling) to style (marketing) can probably be traced back to Kennedy; Nixon was definitely the more substantive candidate, but Kennedy squeaked through a victory because thanks to his huge advantage in style points.

Carter represented another leap of style over substance, but (until Obama) Reagan was the absolute avatar of "marketing" -- people voted for him despite disagreeing with his position on the issues having found Carter's "style" lacking.

Obama has achieved levels of marketing success that exceed even Reagan's. Clinton's campaign mantra "its the economy, stupid" (and "don't forget health care") at least implies substance, Obama's campaign mantra was virtually substance-free ("Change vs more of the same"). And while Obama eventually became more comfortable discussing substance (no more references to "check out my website" for explanations of his policy proposals) after being schooled by the master of substantive debate (Hillary Clinton), Obama remains a "style" president (calling for a stimulus package, but never offering anything other than general guidance about the size and content of that package.)

Posted by: p.lukasiak [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 8, 2009 7:41 AM | Permalink

A long time reader and seldom commenter, that was a good presentation. The media as savvy keeps sticking in my mind, objectionably. I do believe that think they're smart, I do believe they think they know how things work and I believe they're wrong. They know what they are told in the corridors of power and what their bosses say and most of them know some actual facts and that is a real problem. Compliant and complicit seem a bit more accurate.

As a for instance: the term 'supply side economics' is freely used. As someone who studied engineering I'm not overly impressed with some disciplines usage of the word science in regard to themselves but economists do create models and there simply is no working historical model for supply side. The models that look like what they espouse are the present dislocation of wealth and the Robber Barons and journalists are perfectly aware of that. that measure what we have is a deliberate falsehood propagated for those who benefit, their employers and the powerful with that aim.

I have a pretty fair handle on what works and doesn't work politically and practiaclly and my public track record of calling it is better than the media's, despite "access," but the difference is that I have nothing to gain and don't work for anyone with anything to gain or around anyone with...

I have no insight into their thinking or rationals, but I do know that the lack of context and critical reporting is egregious enough that savvy is the wrong word, at a reasonable level of education and knowledge its lack cannot be due to ignorance.

When most of the media accurately reported Obama's campaign tax plan was there ever a single word uttered about the modern history of top rates? How does that happen? This is nothing in depth like an analysis of how Adjusted Gross is arrived at in the top 0.1% versus 85% or the impact of total tax load as a percentage of income, it isn't the kind of thing that takes paragraphs to accomplish - one sentence covers the top tax rate 1960-2008. No time for the consumer to get bored.

I don't want to pick nits about something that contained insights that kicked some thinking into gear on my part that should have already been in gear so, again, a great job.

Posted by: Chuck Butcher at February 8, 2009 7:50 AM | Permalink

Dear Jay,
I've replayed (Tivo'd)that Moyers segment two or three times. It went to the heart of what I have been feeling for years but couldn't quite articulate: there's a distinct class in this U.S. society, the political class. It's not easily defined as Republican or Democrat, rich or poor, although those labels may intersect and have been used to distract sometimes. It's a force of power to which the media have attached itself symbiotically for its own survival.And it's a force of power that's Wizard of Oz'ish in that it is dwarfed by the populace's power but has managed to cow or quiet that larger force through a uniform agreement that only the media can legitimately speak to it. Wow.

Posted by: Rose Rush at February 8, 2009 8:02 AM | Permalink

Im a busy reporter (foreign corrie for major NYC media giant) and couldnt read all these comments, but one point and a comment. First the comment: Great Moyers interview. Rosen rocks. The point Id like to make is this: when are we going to dispell the myth of a center. There is no such thing. The center is a-political. It means you have no ideas. The only party that cries about the center is the Republican party, and they spent 8 years in Washington running as far right of center as any party I can remember in my 38 years of life. Lets start this debate over the center...Huffington is great at this.

Posted by: KenFox at February 8, 2009 8:58 AM | Permalink

Excellent interview. It's great to see you getting the exposure you deserve.

Posted by: A. Sauertieg at February 8, 2009 10:23 AM | Permalink

I learned little new on the program but felt a great deal of pleasure in hearing views I usually feel isolated in holding expressed with clarity and verve.

Posted by: Patricia Mason at February 8, 2009 11:11 AM | Permalink


The "I feel your pain" event you link occurred in March 1992, the month following the article. "I feel your pain" was not limited to the AIDS context, predates Clinton, and (I think we agree) is marketing of a candidate, not selling of a policy agenda.

Either way, my point is to establish that Jay recognized the difference between marketing and selling in political communication early in the 1992 Presidential campaign.

"It's the economy, stupid" was also a marketing theme. It resonated. The reality? Economic fears marketed (polled) well, but were not reality-based.

What I'm struggling with is an old problem, as you point out. How a candidate campaigns tells us little about how that candidate will govern. Worse, the elected candidate continues to campaign (poll and market) what resonates rather than sell policy solutions.

For example, it seems the current stimulus package is marketed as "necessary" rather than sold based on content. What role does journalism have in distinguishing between what is marketing and what is being sold? What obligation does civic journalism have? My understanding of Jay's definition would be to engage the public in the content of the stimulus bill, not the emotional marketing that resonates to push it through.

I Am Not Optimistic But I Do Have Hope: The Future of Journalism in A Media Age (April 1993)

MotherJones: I feel your pain (July/August 1993)

Posted by: Tim at February 8, 2009 12:39 PM | Permalink

My appreciation for you is reflected in your statement about Mr. Greenwald: "I like Glenn because he's serious about what he does."

Weary of the excess, overkill, and banality of the mainstream, I go to Mr. Moyers and the likes of you and Mr. Greenwald for intellectual relief. Thank you!

Posted by: Lalitha Shastri at February 8, 2009 12:45 PM | Permalink

Jay it wasn't your first time on National TV. You were on The Daily Show after all.

Posted by: NewsCat at February 8, 2009 2:25 PM | Permalink

Hi, your and Greenwald's interview was the kinda "zoom out" approach to events of the last few weeks that I needed. I couldn't help but think of Jill Nelson's critique even before Moyers mentioned that "alternative" voices like Amy Goodman's wouldn't receive an invite to a Sunday am show. Obama, like any good person, has a 50:50 shot of changing or being rolled over by Washington. His odds increase tremendously though if he cuts out the middlemen and talks straight to the people... and they keep talking to him.

Posted by: Carla at February 8, 2009 2:39 PM | Permalink

btw, thanks for the link to the Moyers speech. I'm a student reporter. Even at school, I wonder about classmates who see technology as the revolution, when it's just a tool.

Posted by: Carla at February 8, 2009 2:44 PM | Permalink

Clinton may have "marketed" his empathy, but he "sold" his economic program. Indeed, by citing the termination of the Bush I recession, you reinforce that point -- Clinton had a product -- a different approach to the economy -- that he made people want. People wanted a President who understood them, so he "marketed" his empathy.

But far more interesting than our minor difference on this point is the role that the media plays -- television as a medium is more disposed to communicate "marketing" ("which candidate would you rather have a beer with?") than "sales" (all that "boring" policy stuff), and the print media now approaches the campaign from a "marketing" perspective.

If Jay is reading this, I think it would be interesting if he were to update this "sales" vs "marketing" concept here in the blog, or elsewhere...

Posted by: p.lukasiak [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 8, 2009 3:35 PM | Permalink

Thank you, Jay! Was inspired by you and Glenn on Moyers to follow up/write letter to Pres Obama:

Dear President Obama, I thank you for your heart of service and your desire to steer America back toward the direction it was originally intended by our founders. You are doing a masterful job initiating yourself in the complex issues and conflicting personalities in your midst. While “Washington” and the press try to define you with their typical common brush, I see that you are the round peg to their square hole, the new wine to their old wineskins. You are truly a force to be reckoned with.
As you well know, in preaching a “new Washington” with its attending light of transparency you will of necessity be compelled to compromise between the entrenched status quo and your transformative visions which have deeply resonated with the American people. While you proceed in the necessary compromises, I wish to reinforce the notion that your strongest ally in the process will be this public rally cry. Your efforts to change Washington will be most effectively assisted to the extent that your visionary ideas are set free from the constricted views fomenting from the fossilized press and media.
We hungry multitudes here in the trenches are mobilizing in diverse ways. I urge you to continue to monitor and expand all innovative communication channels available--internet, Twitter, Link TV, PBS and NPR, Global news—creative formats which will MAKE VISIBLE and AUDIBLE, beyond all doubt, your message and the resounding voice and opinions of We the People who are supporting you in your efforts to bring about change. I encourage you to enlist in these efforts insightful individuals like Jay Rosen and Glenn Greenwald and Bill Moyers, to name a few.
You are well aware of the need. My aim is to commend you and underscore urgency in expansion of this communication endeavor. Americans have long-awaited “light on the hill”. And now—thank God!-- with you as our President you are indeed leading the flock in the better way, and “in formation” we will all fly faster and higher toward a “more perfect union”.
God Bless you, Barack Obama!

Posted by: Pamela Chaddock at February 8, 2009 4:05 PM | Permalink


I find the idea that Clinton sold, rather than marketed, a different approach to the economy in 1992 interesting. I think all three candidates in 1992 presented a different approach to the economy and the economy was an important factor in the election. How much of that presentation was based on marketing vs. selling is an interesting question.

THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: Issues -- Unanswered Questions; Bush, Clinton and Perot Demonstrate How to Let the Worst Go Unspoken
CLINTON'S ECONOMIC PLAN: The Campaign; Gambling That a Tax-Cut Promise Was Not Taken Seriously
CLINTON'S ECONOMIC PLAN: Impact on Individuals; Middle Class and Wealthy To Bear Brunt of New Taxes

Posted by: Tim at February 8, 2009 4:33 PM | Permalink

I'm a longtime reader, Jay, and a follower on Twitter too.

Thank you for linking the Moyers interview. Glenn was terrific and you two together were first-rate explainers of the way the Washington press corp operates--determining what will resonate with their readers (and listeners) because it resonates with them. I guess that's the closed editorial system you write about so often.

Chiming in here only to buttress your point. On a news roundup this afternoon on NPR, whose audio clip on the stimulus legislation do you suppose it used to sum up?

Nope, not Congressman Barney Frank, who was brilliant this morning on MTP. It was Indiana's Pence, who bloviated with precision about the bill's bailouts, pork, and spending. Because NPR decided, you think, that this clip ~resonated~ the most? How did it decide, and why? I think you and Glenn explain why.

Pence's Senate colleague at the table, Nevada's Ensign, sitting next to the not very effective McCaskill, was even more masterful: he conflated the Palinesque "bridge to nowhere" business with the administration's planned infrastructure spending. Seriously. He co-opted the most notorious and Republican pork project, the Bridge to Nowhere, and said roads and bridges were the same thing--projects to nowhere. Steele hit this point too, on This Week, claiming, really, that "work is not a job." Only private sector jobs are jobs. George S. was just shy of agog.

My sense is that most Americans understand, in Maddow's words, that this is bull pucky. Can Obama articulate and tap into this larger American disgust?

In the meantime, I'm paying close attention to Gingrich. On Stephanopoulos this morning he said he was "concerned about the confusion in the Obama administration."

They will hit this false note (Obama administration confused) again and again, without any evidence, to delegitimate a fledgling administration. Because Gingrich more nearly than anyone truly knows what resonates inside Washington--what wins news cycles.

So the coming epic battle will pitch Gingrich's game (insiders) vs. Obama's game of frantic Americans who voted for a different kind of resonance. Can Obama bring his legions into a debate hitherto closed to them?

Posted by: paxr55 at February 8, 2009 4:36 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Rosen--I thought that your discussion with Bill Moyers and Glenn Greenwald was very good. It prompted me to look up your web site, which seems interesting.

As the three of you were talking about the internet working both ways, I remembered the attempt by the 9/11 Truth movement to communicate with Mr. Moyers last year when he requested recommendations for books that the new president should read. A lot of 9/11 Truth people recommended the latest book by David Ray Griffin on 9/11 Truth. After many objections, Mr. Moyers stated that he didn't include the book in 'his' list because there had been an 'orchestrated effort' to communicate with him about it. Here is an e-mail that I sent to him on 22 February 2008 which remains unanswered. Are we sure that the internet works both ways?

Dear Mr. Moyers,

I respect you tremendously as an open-minded, courageous, thoughtful, and compassionate man. When you decided to return to news commentary a couple of years ago, I was delighted because I believe that your voice is invaluable at this time.

I didn't take part in your request for recommendations for books for a future president to read, but would have suggested David Ray Griffin's The New Pearl Harbor. I read it after seeing Professor Griffin's interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. His meticulous research and analysis of the 9/11 question convinced me beyond a doubt that the true story is far different than we have heard from the media and our government. I was especially impressed, as an academic librarian for 30 years, that, like the scholar that he is, Professor Griffin did not jump to conclusions about the contradictions in the available evidence, but simply and carefully described the issues that need to be resolved. If his more recent book, Debunking 9/11 Debunking, was the object of an 'orchestrated campaign' to be named on the Journal, that is because there are many people like me who feel dismay and despair at the fact that these questions have been asked for years and have met with only indifference or ridicule in the press. No doubt those who suggested the book to you believed that you were one of the journalists who would pay attention.

I implore you to talk with David Ray Griffin. As you probably know, he is a theologian, retired from Claremont College. If you talk with him personally and, even better, read The New Pearl Harbor (Olive Branch Press, 2004) I believe that you will think that his views are well reasoned and well presented and that they deserve serious consideration.

The best outcome would be an interview with Professor Griffin on the Journal. If, as some other writers on the Journal blog suggest, you are 'not allowed' to address the issue, I hope that you will consider the implications of that situation.

So I'd like to challenge you to look into this issue more deeply.

Thank you so much.


Karen Rice
Bellingham WA

Posted by: Karen Rice at February 8, 2009 5:19 PM | Permalink

I watched the Bill Moyers Show today and found your concept of the media's comfort zone with the status quo thought provoking. It helps explain my distress with media coverage throughout the Bush Administration and why TV news coverage has been so exasperating since Obama was elected. Please write more on this idea.

Posted by: Joanne Gareau at February 8, 2009 5:27 PM | Permalink

I'm embarrassed to admit that I recognized your name, but I have not read your blog.

I will now.

Watching you and Greenwald was like letting out a breath I didn't even know I was holding in.

I don't know how else to explain it.

Posted by: politickybitch [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 8, 2009 5:51 PM | Permalink

Mr. Rosen

It is obvious your discourse today resonated with thousands of viewers. I hope that you continue to challenge journalists to act like journalists, and move beyond the same old, tired narratives.

Puneet S. Kohli

Posted by: Puneet Kohli at February 8, 2009 6:25 PM | Permalink

well i'm prob way down you list of replies but i thought it was groundbreaking - which on one level i unfortunate because there is so little commentary that rises to this level.

but it also went right to the heart of what has been disturbing me - in obama's first 17 days.

but the big view of the media and the establishment. they really think they can drag him down and make them politic like the others. lets' nope they are wrong. mk

Posted by: mitchell kriegman at February 8, 2009 8:10 PM | Permalink

Thanks Jay for sharing your views along with Glen and Bill. I wish you guys were on more often.
It's great to here you guys discuss the pressing issues of our day with truths rarely heard of in mainstream media.

I wish all of you and other prominent journalist would get together and have a simposium and talk about these greater truths at great length and in ways the average person can understand.

I look forward you reading your site.

Posted by: George C. at February 8, 2009 8:34 PM | Permalink

I think that you, together with Bill and Glenn, are the very antithesis of "the media having become an institution of the establishment." I forget who said it (maybe both you and Glenn in different ways) but it is quite true that all of us must keep up the pressure on "our" president to make every effort at delivering what he promised. In that sense it is the responsibility of the people at large to make this government work for all of us. Obama, himself has alluded to this idea in speeches.

Posted by: George Zulch at February 8, 2009 11:01 PM | Permalink

Thanks, everyone, for your responses, and just for watching what, after all, is three talking heads. I was very pleased with the program, which was superbly edited by Moyers staff.

I am very grateful for the words of those from the TV audience who were moved to seek out PressThink and tell me themselves what they thought when the discussion aired. Thank you.

Paul: Glenn's a more ideological critic than I am and that's appropriate because he is writing about political policies and their construction in the news media, whereas I am a politically-inflected press critic. We come from different places to similar conclusions.

There were several points he made that I wouldn't put the way he put them, or I might say, "no, that's not the reason." In general, I emphasize more institutional factors than he does. I am also more likely to credit the story journalists tell themselves as "true to them," whereas for Glenn it is mostly untrue, even to them. But we are often struck by the same patterns, so that is why we can have a decent conversation.

Tim and Paul: I don't have a rapid update to my 1993 piece; that was the way I thought 15 years ago. I may not even find it valid when I sit down and re-read it, which I have not done in many years.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 8, 2009 11:23 PM | Permalink


Very enlightening. Just this AM, I was watching Meet the Press and was wondering: "Why bother? It's the same rhetoric that we've been hearing forever."

Keep up the enlightenment. We pawns need it - badly,

Kindest regards,

Ken Leebow

Posted by: Ken Leebow at February 9, 2009 9:38 AM | Permalink

Jay: I turned on Moyers accidentally and was rewarded (like always) for my time. You and Gleen said what those on the left doing media criticism have been saying for years. thank you -- a breath of fresh air whenever it does slip into mainstream media. Yes, you got on national TV, but only with that old radical, Bill Moyers, who is also treated as suspect and unserious. Somehow it's different now with the Internet. Is that true? Also, street demonstrations seem so outmoded (I mean, actually going somewhere physically intead of virtually?) and quaint, but that is the only thing that is going to keep BHO honest about change that we elected him to do. Along the lines of the anti-Iraq war demonstrations before we went in - a broad mix of all folks, not just the crazy leftie typical suspects. Jay, you're now on my Favorites -- Glenn, too. Thank you very much for your work.

Posted by: Leigh Coop at February 9, 2009 1:44 PM | Permalink

So what do we do actively to say , ENOUGH ? !!

When Obama said it, during the campaign, my spirit lifted because it is so true. Now the press chips away and fosters fear and negatively undermines just about everything. I'm sure someone is trying to dig up some dirt on Sully an his crew at this very moment.

I ask, with a true genuine wish to be guided, how do we get together and stop this now ?

Demonstrate where ? When ? What is the most effective way to raise voices. We got him elected. That was big.

Now what ?

Posted by: martine Byer at February 9, 2009 2:29 PM | Permalink

I agree with the comments you made on Bill Moyers Journal. It seems to me that another reason that journalists continue to repeat the spoon fed party line is that most journalists don't have the background, either academic or street smarts to provide analysis on their own. You can see the disgust or frustration on Obama's face when asked questions by TV journalists. The questions reflect absolutely no insight into the subjects at all on the part of the journalist. When Obama gave the speech in Williamsburg to the Democratic House caucus he made what I thought was a pejorative reference about the cable news media by calling their reporting "cable chatter". Not one of the media caught the reference. I think Obama knows all about the media and good things will come of it.

Posted by: Tom Webb at February 9, 2009 5:47 PM | Permalink

one does hope that all these commenters praising Jay are taking advantage of the opportunity to read his other posts (check out the "highlights" in the right hand column) in order to gain an understanding of where jay is really coming from.

Jay has a lot more to say that is worthwhile, and isn't worth reading because he expressed opinions consistent with the agenda of Moyers' audience; he's worth reading because he's smart and is able to articulate his vision of the way that media functions and relates (and fails to function and relate) to the rest of society.

Posted by: p.lukasiak [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 10, 2009 10:02 AM | Permalink

Mr. Rosen,

Congratulations to you and Mr. Greenwald for delivering a devastating critical salvo against a political media culture which currently determines the limits of 'acceptable' ideas for public consumption.

In addition to some psychological need to control the parameters of political conversation in order for journalists/op-ed writers/pundits to appear 'savvy'/relevant would you also consider that they are motivated by a desire to remain employed (in some cases VERY gainfully employed) by entities which have their own complex political and business priorities. Mega-Corporations which produce and sell political media/programming as a consumer product also spend a great deal of money hiring 'savvy' public relations and advertising experts to assist them in achieving the business objectives of their other profit centers. It would seem reasonable to assume that a 'savvy' political media producer would be inclined to tread lightly when framing up a discussion of any issue that is relevant to his employers bottom line and avoid working against the aim of his employer's other media activities. No dark corporate conspiracy demanding that a political journalist should abandon all allegiance to reality in order to become a propagandist furthering his employers interests has to exist for a pundit become largely that. It can happen naturally as a consequence of the conflict of interest a savvy person would feel when they read the Logo that appears at the top of their paycheck and then contemplate biting the hand that feeds them.

Bill Moyer's is a true American treasure who has been biting the hand of corruption (presumably without being fed first) for quite some time. People who enjoy that sort of thing are everywhere the mainstream corporate media is not. I look forward to reading your blog in the future and hopefully seeing more 'cross pollination' of your ideas around the web as more people are made aware.

Posted by: WMK at February 10, 2009 4:15 PM | Permalink

As an original fan of Bill Moyers from his origins I can agree this was one of his finest shows, congratulations to all. However, even this is just skimming the surface -- the real concern, even if we had more control over process and information, is what is our desired outcome? If we had the power, what do we want to happen? Here is where sparks fly and dialectic begins. For example, income distribution: with the top 2% owning half the wealth, the solution is obvious but no-one dares speak about it. We need to confiscate and redistribute the loot.
Another fundamental problem: mindless materialism, shopping malls full of useless junk that we don't need. By now social evolution should have delivered us into a golden age, but instead we waste natural resources, support the wrong foreign governments, eat foolishly, get fat and stupid.
Unfortunately these, and I've got more, are not on the agenda for action.

Posted by: Dennis C. at February 10, 2009 4:36 PM | Permalink


It boils down to this, an "expert" in any field, is simply a person with a vested interest in the status quo.

So if you want to solve a problem enlist the people with a vested interest in solving the problem.

Posted by: Aleta at February 10, 2009 5:48 PM | Permalink

I wonder if the Salon podcast served as a sort of audition tape.

Really enjoyed the segment. I never rarely miss Moyers.

Posted by: Amyloo at February 10, 2009 6:29 PM | Permalink

Mr. Rosen stopped short of saying that it is corporate power/control that keeps the media from exposing that very power. I suppose even on PBS it is too disruptive to the power structure to really name it for what it is. Corporate power has completely invaded our democratic institutions (media, schools, legislatures) and we are nothing but cogs in their machine.

Posted by: kelley hewitt at February 10, 2009 6:56 PM | Permalink

thank you jay and glenn for your air time with bill moyers. bill has become an american treasure along with the last honest man in our capitol, ralph nader (where do you see or hear from ralph?).. couldn't help notice that bill's speech you referenced was from 2003- six long frightening years. the inexorable march of money and power continues. journalists may want to start any search for facts and truth with this: "please just tell me what you won't or can't, i really don't need the rest".
the following are pieces of information picked up over the past year but never seen put together in timely pieces:
the first blow to the economy was the oil/gas price run-up.
not much seems to be known or found on what role price speculation/manipulation plays.
investment banks and oil companies (?), others (?) are instrumental in creating an opaque oil trading venue.
investment bank cornering regional heating oil supplies.
there seems to be no clear explanation of oil price collapse and anyway, here comes the sub prime mess.
poor people who fooled banks into giving them mortgages are responsible for a financial armageddon amounting to tens of trillions.
outright purchase of all bad mortgages could be done for 300 or 400 billion.
"toxic assets" and "bad mortgages" become one and the same.
complex financial instruments of all kinds become jargonized.
credit default swaps are legal contracts.
contracts built on underlying fraud are illegal.

political leadership in our capitol enters more and more into the realm of theater reminding one of roman circus, joined by mainstream media.
but, like enron, the books will come, and again, too late.

Posted by: tb at February 10, 2009 9:48 PM | Permalink

Hah! It was your Virtually Speaking appearances that put you over the top. I say.

Will Bunch this week.

Posted by: jayackroyd at February 11, 2009 8:33 AM | Permalink

It's curious that many commenters mention being in Oregon, as I am.

I relayed this thread link to Thom Hartmann's peeps, (based in Portland), adding a sticky note that 'they' (same old ratings-rabid, corporate-sponsored, wool-gathering radio ... in 'progressive' guise), are borderline extinct in their lapdog yapping.

Congrats on your 23-year breakthrough, Jay. I wish they'd have let you in earlier, when it still mattered and made a difference. Seems to me, like another Oregonian at heart -- Mike Ruppert, Crossing the Rubicon: author, 'FromTheWilderness.COM' webmaster -- that the global kill-off/die-off is too far along to prevent, as connived through mass media by the controllers who grabbed hold of it first, (the mil.-indus.-media-political complex, c. 1952), and despite all your excellent analyses and Moyers' masterwork productions, yet the so-called 'Free Press' sealed the demise into debacle of itself and humankind relying on it, the final time when it went stooge-stupid for Bush, especially maintaining the Myth of Nine-Eleven from which all calamity comes. Truth coulda been a contend'ah ... except its mainstream media agent wasn't.

Posted by: meremark at February 12, 2009 1:23 AM | Permalink

I'm a regular Moyers viewer, and was delighted to see you and Glenn as his guests. Since I've enjoyed your writing, it was fun to connect a face and presence to that.

I was dismayed with the frequency and ease with which you both accused "them" as the root of all problems, however. It seems a little too easy, and too much a caricature, and tends to reduce the depth of the analysis possible.

Posted by: fortboise at February 12, 2009 11:33 PM | Permalink

I don't recall doing that, actually.

I do recall saying that if Washington's cycles are going to change it would only be because of pressure from the outside. But that's not a "them." I didn't say or imply that "they" are the cause of all our problems. I said electing the right people is not enough.

So I don't think yours is a fair reading of my portions in the transcript.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 12, 2009 11:40 PM | Permalink

I listened to the Moyer podcast of your interview. You and Glenn hit the nail on the head.

How can we let Obama know that he really has the power to mobilize the anger of the American people and make real change come to Washington? He needs to speak directly to us and not let the pundits "interpret" for us. Too many people are deceived by the media.
For Example, I missed his speech about the stimulus package and only heard sound bites and interpretations. Why can't he put all his speeches on podcasts or in his weekly radio message or on tv several times a day? Then I can hear exactly what he says. THen he can speak directly to me.

I am angry and frustrated. Almost everyone I know feels the same way. We didn't just vote for change for the heck of it. We actually WANT change. Big Change with a capitol C.I want Washington turned upside down. How else can we regain our democracy?

Who can we contact. How can we join forces and be heard?
I see other people have asked these questions, but I don't know where to get the answer.

I am not articulate. I don't have the words to express what I would like Obama to do. I need someone who can put the concepts together. When I hear you and Glenn and others on Bill Moyers I feel like you guys have the ability to speak what I think and feel, even if I don't have the words.

If Washington has all the connections and power of the lobbyists behind them, they won't want real change. How do we work toward changing the unwilling?
We have the power of vote, but how can we tell the sincere politicians from the self motivated? The media used to be the equalizing force by informing us of wrong doing. But now the media has joined the other team and no one is working for us.

What can I do?

Posted by: Rochelle Day at February 13, 2009 11:18 AM | Permalink

I enjoyed your appearance with Moyers and Greenwald. You were very articulate and made your points with devastating conciseness. You inspired me and many others to seek more information, each other, and a path to something better.
In reading some of the posted comments I recognize my own feelings of frustration and even despair with a system that you correctly identified as broken and as sustained by a network of media, corporative, and political manipulators.
I look to political leadership for change and see only an entrenched system. I look to the media for an informed and honest voice and come away with a feeling of disgust for the lost opportunity. I don't consider myself a revolutionary and am by no means a radical. But I do find it increasingly hard to ignore the total disregard of intelligence and respect for clarity that I see in politics and media.
Thank you for your work. I will become a frequent visitor and add my voice.

Posted by: Graham Smith at February 15, 2009 8:28 AM | Permalink

My two cents:

Understanding the Corporate Press and American Democracy

Posted by: GW at February 15, 2009 4:43 PM | Permalink

I stated my point too strongly with "root of all problems," but re-reading the transcript affirms the basis for my impression of a good deal of generalized criticism. There were a lot of broad shots taken at "the press" as a whole.

The established media share a lot of traits to be sure, but the individuals and the individual organizations vary widely in their skills and faults. Maybe an important boundary is between occupation and industry: if your job is reporting, the measures of success are different than if your business is selling advertising.

The news on PBS and Democracy Now is categorically different from the news on ABC, CNN, and so on.

Posted by: fortboise at February 15, 2009 6:15 PM | Permalink

One big point made on Moyers is the way that views not remotely congruent to the left-right ideological spectrum (eg views about integrity, legality, war making, climate change) get labelled 'liberal' or 'leftist'.

It has to be every sane American's fundamental duty to call foul whenever this happens.

Posted by: AlanDownunder at February 16, 2009 4:04 AM | Permalink

Thank you! You have elucidated succinctly what so many Americans have felt but could not define. It is a breath of freah air. I trust you understand that it is almost impossible for the common American see through the network media shroud or even conceive that the media or the government does not operate in their best interests.

Posted by: Bernard J. Stankay at February 16, 2009 5:14 AM | Permalink

There is an axiom out there ready to be born that everything takes 20 years, though your day was a bit overdue even by that standard.

Glad PBS and the Internets carried your message.

Posted by: leolabeth at February 16, 2009 7:05 AM | Permalink

Congrats on the exposure, Jay, and you do raise some good points.

But a Bill Moyers/Jay Rosen/Glen Greenwald lineup? That's a circle jerk of liberal orthodoxy. The fact that PBS thought it would be compelling TV to bring the three of you in for a discussion is symptomatic of the real ailment affecting journalism... and the fact that the three of you guys could sit in front of a camera and claim that the press was relentlessly pro-Bush - despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary - and PBS didn't see fit to book a single soul who could raise a counterargument - is itself worthy of a laugh.

Perhaps it would have been more efficient to just book a couple of Greenwald's sock puppets to agree with him.

Not your fault, Jay, but this show was a joke.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at February 16, 2009 10:10 AM | Permalink

Excellent discussion viewed via podcast. The media are truly whores and principally beholden to corporate interests. Amy Goodman represents the best of journalism these days. I wish she had a voice in primetime to counter
the the nonsense of the corporate media. We need a
"free press" to speak directly to the citizenry in
a Thomas Painesian-pamphleteering manner

Posted by: kicking bear at February 17, 2009 6:17 PM | Permalink

Dear Jay,
I recorded Bill Moyer's show and watched it yesterday. I was blown away by your discussion, couldn't actually believe this dialog was happening on TV. Moyer's is my hero and I was happy to be introduced to you. My disgust with main stream media grows by the day. Their obsession with 2 or 3 meaningless stories like the chimp attack, while our economy implodes and two wars continue is appalling. The truth is out there mainly on the internet but you must seek it out.
Thank you for providing important information and creating a meaningful dialog.
Roxanne Walker Cordonier
Taylors, South Carolina

Posted by: Roxanne Cordonier at February 18, 2009 9:51 AM | Permalink

I'm glad there are still some out there who are willing to look past the tip end of their noses. We need people like you, Greenwald, and Moyers who are willing to write about the American political press and Beltway journalism. They certainly won't. I'm writing a piece about the Moyers segment for my political science class even. Best to you!

Posted by: Gregg at February 26, 2009 7:53 PM | Permalink

From the Intro