Monday, April 25, 2005

Eric Alterman explains it all, or, why I started this here BLOG in the first place!

You gotta read it all to understand (if you dare!) my logic between PR + Marketing's fusion ( and Journalism becoming PR:


Bush's War on the Press
Thu Apr 21, 4:18 PM ET
Op/Ed - The Nation
Eric Alterman

Journalists, George Bernard Shaw once said, "are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization." How odd, given the profession's un-equaled reputation for narcissism, that Shaw's observation holds true even when the collapsing "civilization" is their own.

[REASON #1] The media's failure to resist this assault is perhaps understandable. Members of the profession are under siege from so many directions simultaneously they may feel they can hardly keep up with each incoming salvo. Not only is much of the traditional media controlled by multinational corporations that view their operations not as a public trust but as profit centers to be squeezed, but newspapers are facing an alarming decline in readership (and more than a few are admitting to having padded those numbers all along). Broadcast news has been steadily losing audience share for decades. In a vicious cycle, the results of such declines are more declines, as resources are cut to match reduced profits and pressure escalates from above to do more with less.

[REASON #2] Meanwhile, more and more "news" programs are succumbing to the tabloid temptation, and the lowering of quality has been ac-companied by a proliferation of factual errors, plagiarism and outright fiction proffered as reportage, further undermining public respect for the field. As Philip Meyer recently wrote in The Columbia Journalism Review, there is a sense that journalism itself "is being phased out. Our once noble calling is increasingly difficult to distinguish from things that look like journalism but are primarily advertising, press agentry, or entertainment." Throw in the nonstop ideological assault from the self-intoxicated section of the (mostly conservative) blogosphere, from (even more conservative) talk-radio and cable loudmouths like Limbaugh and O'Reilly, plus the fact that members of generations X and Y seem more likely to commit acts of terrorism than pick up a newspaper or watch a news broadcast, and it seems almost a luxury to worry about the Bush Administration's attack as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Undoubtedly the Administration's most bizarre effort to manipulate the media was its embrace of former gay prostitute James Guckert, aka Jeff Gannon, who showed up at the White House under a phony name and worked for a right-wing shell operation that acted less like a news organization than an arm of the Republican National Committee, publishing articles like "Kerry Could Become First Gay President." Gannon's ostensible employer, Talon News Service, employed an editor in chief, Bobby Eberle, who served as a delegate to the 1996, 1998 and 2000 Texas Republican Conventions and to the 2000 Republican National Convention and enjoyed many direct connections to Republican and right-wing organizations. Press secretary McClellan would often call on Gannon when he wanted to extricate himself from a particularly effective line of questioning. The words "Go ahead, Jeff," signaled that the press corps could be getting into an area that might embarrass the White House--or could be discovering a nugget of genuine news. Gannon's ploy might have continued indefinitely had the President not helped make him famous by calling on him at a January 26 news conference in order to be served up a softball that mocked Democrats for being "divorced from reality." Once exposed, Gannon resigned and Talon folded up shop like a rolled-up CIA cover-op. As James Pinkerton, an official in both the Reagan and Bush I White House, admitted on Fox News, getting the kind of clearance Gannon did in this security atmosphere must have required "an incredible amount of intervention from somebody high up in the White House," that it had to be "conscious" and that "some investigation should proceed, and they should find that out." As Frank Rich observed, "Given an all-Republican government, the only investigation possible will have to come from the press."

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this war against the media has been the fact that members of the media have largely behaved as if it is just business as usual. In fact, much of the success of the effort derives from the cooperation, both implicit and explicit, of the press. No one, after all, forces local TV stations to run official propaganda videos in lieu of their own programming, or without identifying them as such, and no one forces CNN Newsource, among others, to distribute them. And why did the curious mystery of "Gannon," despite its obvious newsworthiness--and sex appeal--receive so little critical coverage and virtually no outrage in the mainstream press? (Washington Post media critic and CNN talking head Howard Kurtz even went so far as to blame the scandal on "these liberal bloggers, [who] have started investigating his personal life in an effort to discredit him," and the National Press Club invited Gannon to be an honored guest on a panel on blogging and journalistic credibility.) Mike McCurry, White House press secretary under Bill Clinton, says he marvels at the willingness of the press corps to swallow the various humiliations offered them by Bush & Co. He told a recent gathering of Washington reporters and editors, "I used to think that if I ever tried to control the message as effectively as the current White House did, that I would have been run out of the White House press briefing room. But clearly I misjudged the temperament that exists."