Saturday, December 03, 2011

Core Values of American Journalism

Via Glenn Greenwald, a dispiriting - or enraging - look at American journalistic values:
Yesterday, The New York Times‘ Roger Cohen displayed a core value of American political journalism — love of government secrecy — as he applauded President Obama for conducting what he described as numerous covert, lawless wars without a shred of transparency, democratic debate or accountability. Today, The Washington Post‘s Ruth Marcus reveals another (related) leading journalistic value — extreme deference to those in political power — with a column denouncing Emma Sullivan, the 18-year-old high school student in Kansas who committed the crime of saying something disrespectful about the Hon. Sam Brownback, her state’s Governor.
Both columns are good, especially the Cohen one, in which he notes
In other words, it’s simply a given that war with all of these Muslim countries, including Iran, is necessary and inevitable — despite the fact that none is attacking the U.S. or threatening to do so. Warring against all these countries is America’s imperial responsibility and exceptionalist right. The only question, then, is whether the wars will be fought (a) democratically, legally and out in the open, or (b) in secret, with no legal basis or democratic accountability. Cohen, the journalist, chooses (b).
The media of this country bears a huge portion of the blame for the state we're in - in all spheres, not just this one... As Greenwald notes,
As Cohen’s Washington Post namesake [Richard Cohen] put it: “it is often best to keep the lights off.” That, with some exceptions, is the motto not only of The Washington Post but of American establishment journalism generally. That’s what NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen meant when he said that the reason we got WikiLeaks is because “the watchdog press died.” With some exceptions — some of this we have learned about from whistleblowers leaking to reporters, who then publish it – the American media does not merely fail to fulfill its ostensible function of bringing transparency to government; far beyond that, it takes the lead in justifying and protecting extreme government secrecy. Watching a New York Times columnist stand up and cheer for multiple covert, legally dubious wars and an underground foreign policy highlights that as well as anything one can recall.
Oh, yeah. One more thing...

It's still wrong. It doesn't magically become right just because Obama is doing it.

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