...don't even ignore 'em.
-- Samuel Goldwyn

Monday, May 16, 2005

Press mistakes and Bush policy.

One of the Monday leads is the Newsweek mistake on alleged Guantanamo Quran desecration, and the fatal demonstrations in Afghanistan. As I write this, the White House has jumped on the issue, saying Newsweek has hurt our image overseas. We don't need gaffes and goofs in an odiferous atmosphere produced by nasty falls at the New York Times, CBS News, and others, when we have a government that's pushing an anti-press agenda. As a militant moderate, I sure don't want the press to get any more gunshy. Hard-nosed conservatives have always considered journalism a liberal (pejorative; meaning un-American) activity. The Bush administration formalized this into policy. Proof: the President's famous exchange with a reporter at his ranch:

Auletta...can describe Bush at a barbeque for the press in August, where a reporter says to the president: is it really true you don't read us, don't even watch the news? Bush confirms it. And the reporter then said: Well, how do you then know, Mr. President, what the public is thinking? And Bush, without missing a beat said: You're making a powerful assumption, young man. You're assuming that you represent the public. I don't accept that.

[Reported by Jay Rosen of NYU -- More from him on the subject.]

Karl Rove recently told a university audience that doesn't see the press as liberal so much as "oppositional." What he seems to want is more press empathy for government officials. Sounds fair, but it's actually just a sorta-fresh spin on the anti-press dance. Nobody said Karl isn't a master of weasel words. Not since the Johnson and Nixon administrations have we seen the White House so on the offensive, and the press so defensive. The news business is never easy. Today, news orgs just have to work harder, edit better, get it righter. And don't stop being the watchdog, even when we say we don't want to hear it.

1 comment:

Donkhoof said...

I agree that the goverment is making Newsweek a scapegoat to cover up their own huge gaffs. What if CBS and Newsweek were right and forced into being wrong!
Now wouldn't that be news-Carl Rove-worthy?