Thursday, July 9, 2009

Changing scene of political commentary

Clearly, journalism itself is not dying. What is dying -- and rightfully so -- is the staid, establishment-serving, passion-free, access-desperate, mindless stenographic model to which establishment journalism rigidly adheres.

From Glenn Greenwald, lawyer, author, media critic, blogger at Salon.com, wrote the linked article after the Washington Post termination of Dan Froomkin's online White House Watch. After five and one half years, Froomkin's online presence was the busiest part of the WAPO website and firing him led to an almost unprecedented uproar from readers. Some blamed The Post for wanting to eliminate its most effective progressive voice. Froomkin detracted from the Post's passel of war mongering necons and fossils who now fill their opinion columns. These include David Broder 79, William Bennett 66, Charles Krauthammer 59, and George Will 68.

Media critics, such as Greenwald, believe Froomkin's "practice of exposing the corrupt practices of establishment journalists (both by his words and deeds)" is what led to his demise. Nobel winner Paul Krugman blames movement conservatives who demand that right wing politicians and media figures be treated with respect.

Krugman writes:
Now, you might think that the way things turned out — the total failure of movement conservatism in government, and the abrupt, humiliating end to the Permanent Republican Majority — would lead to some soul-searching. But that’s not how human nature works. Instead, it became more urgent than ever to assert that those who didn’t get with the program were flakes and moonbats, not worthy of being listened to, while those who believed in the right to the bitter end were “serious”.

. . . (While convervatives were in power, Froomkin was) someone who attracted readers but didn’t threaten the self-esteem of the self-perceived serious people at the paper. But now he looks like someone who was right when the serious people were wrong — and that means he has to go.

Of course, it did not take Froomkin long to land in the new media. His notice to readers:
I’m delighted to announce that starting later this month, I’ll be taking on the duties of Washington Bureau Chief and Blogger for The Huffington Post.

. . . The extraordinary response to my departure from The Washington Post once again illustrated how much readers hunger for a new – or perhaps I should say old – method of political reporting: One that doesn’t rely on stenography or “splitting the difference,” but involves knowledgeable and trusted reporters calling things as they see them, speaking the truth -- and letting the chips fall where they may. We’ll also be finding new and exciting ways to work with citizen journalists to access their wisdom and knowledge.

I look forward to working with all my new colleagues to hold the powerful accountable, expose corruption, explain how Washington really works -- and write about politics and government not as if it were just a game, but recognizing that it matters profoundly to every one of us.
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