Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Press 

So, I haven't much criticized the press recently; probably because I haven't been reading the news much lately. But also because, well, it's kind of like shooting fish in a barrel and it's kind of lazy, because just because you find a bad article, well, probably every side of every issue can find an article or news report that pisses them off. But, Atrios here finds something that truly is endemic, and the main problem with it isn't ideological:
The White House official who briefed reporters on the speech said Mr. Bush would take detailed positions on Social Security in coming weeks and months, but only to the extent that doing so would help Congress move forward. The official, who spoke before an auditorium full of journalists, insisted on not being quoted by name. Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said the goal in not allowing the use of the official's name was to keep the focus on Mr. Bush.
Just fucking tell us the official's name. This is ridiculous.
What do we learn from this? One, that Atrios and Guthrie share parts of our fine lexicon. Second, and more importantly, I think this reflects some serious laziness. Maybe that's not the right word. Maybe it's more of a "race to the bottom" or collective action type situation. Reporter A doesn't want to have to quote this anonymous White House mouthpiece, but if she doesn't, Reporter B will, and Reporter A will be shut out of the story.

But this theory doesn't hold water, because Reporter A could easily file a story on SS without this WH-approved bullshit line, and have a better story, maybe analyzing this document, a big pdf some GOPers put together concerning the best way to swindle the public into thinking getting rid of SS is a good thing.

In any event, why do reporters keep accepting these types of background-only briefings? The White House says, "Here, take this pile of shit and eat it," and the press says, "Sir, yes sir." Now, obviously off-the-record reporting is important, but only when you're getting real information you couldn't otherwise get. The Official White House Line is pretty much the exact opposite of that.

So, if my WH press corps reader is reading this post, feel free to email an explanation to me. I, uh, promise not to reveal your name...
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