Monday, August 14, 2006

Assault on the press

We've talked some here about the corrosive effect created by constant attacks on press. The noise machine powered by ideological bloggers, hysterical talk show hosts and partisan news organizations trumpets our failings (real and imagined) 24/7.

But the bigger threat by far comes from a much more potent source: the government of the United States. New Yorker editor David Remnick does a fine job of detailing that in a brief Talk Of The Town piece you can find here.

Here's a frightening sample:

In the past six years, the Administration and its surrogates have issued a stream of disinformation about intelligence an Iraq; paid friendly “columnists” like Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher tens of thousands of dollars to parrot the White House line; accredited to the White House press corps a phony journalist and ex-prostitute (Jeff “Bulldog” Gannon, a.k.a. James Dal Guckert) as a reliable pitcher of softball questions; tightened Freedom of Information Act restrictions; and pioneered a genre of fake news via packaged video “reports.” The President has held fewer solo news conference than any of his modern predecessors The Vice-President kept the Times reporter off his plane because he didn’t like the paper’s coverage...

I was raised in the "never let 'em see you sweat" era of newspapers. "We stand by our story," you said in public. On a panel discussion you might venture as far as, "The journalism speaks for itself."

That's not cutting it any more. It's past time to fight back.
–Howard Weaver


  1. Anonymous11:11 PM

    What kind of disclosures/agreements does the Bee require of its columnists?
    (Andrew Cline's recommendations (here; also referenced here) might be a good place to start.)

    I tried to get this info regarding a columnist whose writings and affiliations smacked of PR; asked 3 editors of papers running her column, and got stonewalled by every one - which I took to mean that they didn't care.
    (fyi the Bee was not among them)

  2. Anna Haynes11:14 PM

    sorry, meant to sign that comment.

  3. Fight back we must.

    I'm alarmed at the high percentage of people who earnestly believe that reporters and editors routinely insert opinion into news stories. Where do they get these notions? From conservative talk show hosts and conservative bloggers, who've created their own ecosystem of disinformation.

    I write occasional columns for The Bee on press and First Amendment issues, and I'm going to ramp up the amount of attention I pay to these matters on our editors' blog.

    Is there anyone speaking out on behalf of our industry on a national platform?