Bill Moyers recently interviewed two progressive journalists, Glenn Greenwald and Jay Rosen, who are counting Obama’s first days in D.C. with a sharp eye on the political opinion makers who drive so much of the story we all consume. Listen to the full show.
Greenwald suggested that the media’s treatment of the Daschle nomination provides an example of how complicitly it perpetuates business-as-usual conduct in Washington D.C.. The media missed the real story. While it focused on Daschle’s tax problems, it said nothing of how the retired Congressman has capitalized on his former office by providing legislative consulting to wealthy individuals and large corporations, including those in the health care industry.
“Most people consider that to be corruption. That’s what Barack Obama called it when he ran,” said Greenwald. “Yet, to members of the media, who have spent their lives in Washington, who are friends and colleagues of the people who are engorging themselves on this corrupt system, that is just the way of life. It’s like breathing air or drinking water.”
Rosen said that the Washington media players are part of a broken system intent upon keeping themselves relevant in order to maintain a career. “I think there’s a tendency for Washington journalists to see everything converging towards the political game that they are themselves masters of…The reason you won’t see an Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now!” on “Meet the Press” is that it would discredit the narrative that’s been building up for a long time.”
Rosen conjectures that Obama was probably a little surprised at the strength of the symbiotic relationship between political opinion makers and the political elite. “He is naturally a compromiser. And I think he’s going to be pulled between playing a savvy inside game and trying to mobilize anger from outside of Washington. He’s going to seesaw between these two things. ”
“To members of the media, who have spent their lives in Washington, who are friends and colleagues of the people who are engorging themselves on this corrupt system, that is just the way of life. It’s like breathing air or drinking water. “
Both journalists optimistically agree that if Obama can hold fast to his early promises, the press corps will eventually adjust its narrative to embrace a more progressive story. However, Obama will not be able to do that without outside force. Citizen journalism and other internet social networks can shame the press corps into changing.
Here’s the complete transcript.
Glenn Greenwald is a constitutional lawyer turned journalist. His blog on Salon.com is one of the most influential on the internet. He’s written two best sellers: “How Would a Patriot Act?” about President Bush and executive power, and “A Tragic Legacy.” His most recent book is “Great American Hypocrites.”
Jay Rosen is a founder of the citizen journalism movement and is a professor of journalism at New York University, as well as a widely published writer and media critic. He created the popular blog called PressThink, subtitled “Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine.”