Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Rovian wisdom?
WaPo covers Bush's brain, Karl Rove's comments to a college audience (unscreened, interestingly enough...) regarding the "liberal media."
"I'm not sure I've talked about the liberal media," Rove said when a student inquired -- a decision he said he made "consciously." The press is generally liberal, he argued, but "I think it's less liberal than it is oppositional."

...

"Reporters now see their role less as discovering facts and fair-mindedly reporting the truth and more as being put on the earth to afflict the comfortable, to be a constant thorn of those in power, whether they are Republican or Democrat," Rove said.

I think that Rove has it half right: the first half. The media does play a sort of oppositional role, when they do their jobs correctly. But increasingly, the opposition is not "the comfortable" or the powerful, it's the other media outlets. The media lives to scoop and one-up other members fo the media, both mainstream and outsider (including the blogs). The running battle sometimes produces scoops that upend the president, Congress and others, but just as often, staying ahead of the ratings curve in a crowded, competitive information marketplace involves throwing love bombs at whoever the media perceives as the popular center of gravity, whether it's the president (and his iPod), the "values voter" or Ann Coulter...

It's rare these days for the media to exert much energy really challenging power. When they try, and especially when they fail, the results can be a torrent of push-back and endless grief ("Rathergate"). So most float along with the tide, doing mostly whatever the competition is doing, and only mildly challenging power (most vigorously when they're piling on, less so when they're leading the story). Sad but true: there are few Woodwards or Bernsteins out there anymore. For the most part, the media doesn't fight the power, it simply regurgitates what the power tells them.

Update: as if on cue, Salon's take on the uber-deferential (and ultimately bland) press coverage of the new pope, and the Village Voice weighs in with a call for reporter "civil disobediance."
posted by JReid @ 1:53 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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