Tuesday, June 23, 2009

U.S. Journalism

Glen Greenwald has this post on the firing of Dan Froomkin from the Washington Post. This has been of concern to a lot of people because Froomkin was one of those who held the party in power, no matter which it was, accountable for its actions.

In an update, Greenwald has a good quote on the status of U.S. journalism, something which has concerned me:

"UPDATE III: Referencing the Froomkin essay I posted the other day on the (abdicated) duty of journalists to "call bullshit" on government officials, Law Professor Kevin Jon Heller recounts a conversation he had this week with a high British government official:

It’s difficult not to feel despair at the increasing banality of journalism in the US. A couple of days ago, I had the privilege of spending the evening with Lord Carlile of Berriew, who has served as the UK’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation since 9/11. He has no binding authority, but he insisted that his power to "name and shame" gives him a great deal of actual influence over the content of antiterrorism legislation. And indeed, it seems clear that many of the UK’s imperfect antiterrorism laws would have been far less perfect but for his efforts. I found Lord Carlile’s discussion of his "soft power" fascinating, so I asked him why he thinks the power to name-and-shame has almost no effect in the United States, where those who are named as the intellectual authors of repressive legislation feel no shame and suffer no consequences for their actions. He gave a very simple answer: journalists. I won't repeat some of the words that he used to describe just how pathetic he considers US political journalism, but it’s clear that he believes it has completely abdicated its duty to — as Froomkin describes it — call bullshit on the government.

There are many reasons why establishment media discussions of our political conflicts are so incomplete, distorted, vapid and unsatisfying. But one significant reason is that one of the most important causes of our decayed political culture is a topic which is excluded almost completely from those discussions: namely, the central role the establishment media itself -- with its uncritical and loyal subservience to political power -- plays in enabling and protecting that decay."

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