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February 21, 2007

Mean Bloggers Threaten White House Press Corps

Apparently, the White House press corps is feeling the heat from all us mean old bloggers. They don't think it's fair that we expect them to actually behave like the fourth estate instead of chummy chum chums with Tony Snow, or whomever happens to be playing the role of WH press secretary. SusanG is pretty funny relating the recent comments from those in the hotseat:

Tony Snow and "real journalists" finally agreed on something tonight at a roundtable held for very serious people at the National Press Club: Blogs suck. They’re mean. And ... and ... and ... they actually expect reporters to do their jobs!

We’ll skip Tony Snow. Who cares? But via Think Progress, a couple of journalists had some interesting things to say, kind of opening a door into the higher minds that are raised so far above the rest of us.

NBC News’ David Gregory bemoaned how political coverage has "become so polarized in this country...because it’s the internet and the blogs that have really used this White House press conferences to somehow support positions out in America, political views."

Can you imagine that? The nerve! People actually use White House press conferences to form and support political views! And then they write about those views! Where anybody can read and see and respond and argue and fact-check them! And they haven’t been seen – not once! – at a cocktail party in DC. Next thing you know, they’ll start thinking regular old ordinary people have a right to opinions or something.

Yes, bloggers can be very scary, especially when they are scooping stories the MSM hasn't even caught wind of yet. Thoughtful analysis of the maze-like, extra-legal machinations of the White House is another threat to mainstream reporters who are terrified they might lose access for digging deep. But if it weren't for the blogs it's possible none of us would have learned about the real horrors at Abu Graib prison. We owe a lot to our fellow seekers of truth, across the nation and around the world. We, and they, are keeping the mainstream media and public officials on their toes. We're forcing them to face up to their responsiblities. Just recently, Noemie at Washblog (with assists by Particle Man and Gibney) bore down on Rob McKenna and Luke Esser to fully explain Esser's conflict of interest as an insider/outsider with the state's Republican Party and McKenna's office itself. The denizens of the MSM can complain all they want that bloggers are changing the rules of information flow, but if they were challenging the powers-that-be in the first place there wouldn't be such a void to fill.

There are millions of blogs, but some of the best are staffed and run by people who have credentials and experience that lots of mainstream reporters don't. I'm partial to political and news bloggers, and these are some that I couldn't do without:

Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional and civil rights litigator, has now been picked up by Salon.com.

Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo. Josh is a former journalist, has great contacts and knows how to get the job done.

Geoffrey Stone, a brilliant law professor at the University of Chicago, writes about civil liberties at Huffington Post.

Digby does what only Digby can do -- great analysis in the form of a well-deserved rant. Some of the most impressive writing on the web.

Media Matters deconstructs the biases and outright lies of print, television and radio media.

SteveAudio, a longtime music engineer in L.A., writes knowledgeably about music, the music business, and politics.

Hope Springs A Turtle's blog, Deep Confusion, is a must for anyone looking for powerful writing that exposes the crimes of the Bush administration -- brought to you by someone with military knowledge and experience.

Riverbend's Bagdhad Burning is, without exception, the best on-the-scene portrait of what's really going on in the country we invaded, attacked and occupied 4 years ago. She's a young woman, now sadly wise beyond her years. This blog is not for the faint of heart.

I feel grateful to these bloggers for bringing their truth, expertise and perspective to me. Funny, I never feel that way after watching the television nightly news. I'm sure David Gregory will do his best to win me back.

Posted by shoephone on February 21, 2007 at 01:10 AM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink


I guess Gregory hasn't read that most political bloggers readily concede that they don't have the contacts, training, or resources to dig out the "real news" themselves.

Before the advent of the blogger, control of what the national dialog was going to be about was the exclusive province of the ever-consolidating, increasingly corporate controlled traditional media. Our national conversation was shaped and framed by media owners, based on their own power and financial interests, and delegated down the operational chain to the editors and to the reporters.

Now the consumer of news, through the new medium of the internets, has found a crack to exploit and widen to gain a voice in critiquing the news, and suddenly, the reporters, who previously only had to cater to the whims of their editors and up that chain, find an uncomfortable new source of pressure from those uppity readers and listeners. The nerve, the very nerve!

We must defend Net Neutrality to the death (unseemly hyperbole from the unwashed - sorry, professionals), or our foot will be crushed when the powers that be slam the door to our newfound access shut.

Posted by: op99 | Feb 21, 2007 4:46:14 AM

Standing O for shoephone and op99 -- GREAT one-two punch, y'all!

To the Blogroll of Honor, I'd add Juan Cole, Larry Johnson, Pat Lang, Laura Rozen, Dana Blankenhorn, and -- always -- d r i f t g l a s s. Riverbend is, toujours, in a class of one.

(Sorry for the lack of coding here, godda gimpy hand-petal I'm going easy on today.)

Posted by: lotus | Feb 21, 2007 5:54:39 AM

The mainstream reporters like Gregory are afraid that blogs like the ones you mentioned, and others, are making them irrelevant. Worse, anyone who was paying attention to the Libby trial now knows just how in the pockets of the administration these reporters are - and that's a condition that does not lend itself to the dissemination of the truth to the people the media is allegedly supposed to be serving.

Watching the second part of Frontline's 4-part series on the news, it's clear that it has not been easy to get information out of this adminstration. They have tightened FOIA provisions and flat-out refused to disclose all manner of things that many feel should be available to the public. It's led to an increase in back-chammel sources, some because they are uncomfortable with the actions and policies of the administrations, and some specifically charged with the slow-leaking of information the administration does want out, but only because it helps them.

In the Libby trial testimony, Russert was revealed to be the administration's version of our little friend "Mikey" from the Life cereal commercials: "Let's tell Timmy - he'll believe anything!" and all of a sudden, something blog denizens have known for a long time - that Russert may have the persona of a hard-charging media giant, but he'd be outmatched on a little girls' softball team - was all of a sudden right there in black and white.

So, David Gregory and others, pardon us if we are skeptical about what you are telling us and where it came from and who really wanted the information out there. Pardon us if we feel that your reports, and those of your fellow reporters, are not the be-all and end-all of the information that is out there. We can't help it if, day-after-day, the blogs are fleshing out your stories and giving people the back-stories that you are withholding. We just want to know what's going on - and if you and others were doing your jobs, the blogs would not be nearly the resource they have come to be.

Instead of having yourselves a little snit over being made increasingly irrelevant by the blogs, you might try a new strategy - doing a better job; you could call it "The New Way Forward."

Posted by: Anne | Feb 21, 2007 5:55:42 AM

Thanks Shoephone,

I'm pretty much convinced that this country would be a lot closer to an authoritarian oligarchy without the advent of the blogs.

The blogs have been a conduit for citizen activists to share what they know and think. In the process we have the opportunity to take back this country. A case of the right technology at the right time, as far as I can see.

Posted by: Lynn | Feb 21, 2007 8:35:00 AM

Brava! Author! Thank you Shoephone for the great post that demonstrates why the blogs work and how the tubes may be the very thing that saves us from them. Well the internet and Keith Olbermann.

Posted by: HopeSpringsATurtle | Feb 21, 2007 10:45:52 AM

shoephone, op99, Anne - well said, all of you. I think many reporters are doing their best under these conglomerate-controlled conditions to get to the truth and report it, but a majority of them, especially in D.C., seem more than happy to eat the cocktail weenies, if not drink the Kool-Aid.

Posted by: Nefarious Leslie | Feb 21, 2007 11:45:39 AM

There are so many David's - are you talking about Stretch?

Maybe if we just gave them nicknames . . . *g*

Posted by: Mary | Feb 21, 2007 12:34:29 PM

Hey shoephone, great rant and a good list, especially if you add lotus' to it. I'd just offer the thought that Josh Marshall still is a journalist, he just doesn't work for anyone else now. He certainly expresses his own opinions about things, but he still digs for news and reports it.

Posted by: Cujo359 | Feb 21, 2007 12:57:18 PM

Thanks for the link!

Posted by: SteveAudio | Feb 21, 2007 4:37:24 PM

Thank you all for such on-target comments. And Hope, I'm going to add your blog to my list, which I should have done to begin with.

You work so hard at exposing the criminals and you have such a unique perspective, complete with military experience. There are times your writing is so affecting it brings tears to my eyes.


Posted by: shoephone | Feb 21, 2007 8:08:46 PM

There's so much talent in the blogosphere.

Cujo's Blog: http://cujo359.blogspot.com/

Your writing is exceptional, Cujo, and the amount of information you pack into one post is mindboggling.

Posted by: shoephone | Feb 21, 2007 8:47:53 PM

I visited the offices of Senator Maria Cantwell twice last week. Twice her doors were locked, but a sign on the glass door read, "Please Knock." So knock I did. Two receptionists looked up then down. Nothing. I knocked again. One looked up and mouthed, just a minute. Nothing. I knocked again. He looked up and again mouthed, just a minute, but this time got up and ran out of the reception area. A few minutes later a staffer came out a side door and asked me what I was there for, politely. I said I wanted to talk to the chief of staff about the Iraq war. Oh, she said, let me take you downstairs where those people are sitting with staff. No, I said. I want to talk to the chief of staff, not sit in some closet somewhere. Just a minute, she said and slipped back inside.

I waited and waited and waited and waited until Jay Pierson, chief of constituent services (I may not have his title exactly) came out. I have had many previous encounters with Jay. What may I do for you? he asked.

I think it is outrageous that you have locked us peace activists out. Here we are out in the hallway talking and you won't invite me in.

Oh, he replied, we can't have people coming in and threatening to spend the night. It isn't fair to these staff members who don't earn very much money and are over worked as it is.

I said, We are in a war in which one American soldier dies every eight hours and countless Iraqis are dying every day. Business as usual is not okay. So you will continue to hear from us, we will continue to try to get meetings with Senator Cantwell, and yes, maybe some will try to spend the night in these offices which we own as taxpayers.

He then said, Do you know what you should be doing? You should be getting some high-powered CEOs from MIcrosoft and Boeing to join the peace movement.

Do you mean, people with money? Would Cantwell listen if we had lots of money in our pockets, is that what you're saying?

Well, he said, you know it takes a lot of money to run for the Senate.

I said, so you're telling me that when millions turned out in the streets before the war to voice opposition to the invasion, that didn't matter to our senator, who is supposed to represent the people, because we don't have big money?

He did not reply, other than to tell me how he really understands where the peace movement is coming from because he was active in the anti-war movement in the Vietnam War days.

Friends, I fear that Senator Cantwell's position on the Iraq war can be summed up in the position paper Jay handed me: "As long as there are troops serving in at risk areas, Senator Cantwell will make sure they have the tools like body armor and the support they need to do their jobs safely so they can come home." Please write to her at: Jackson Federal Building # 3206; 915 2nd Ave. ; Seattle, WA 98174.

Posted by: Kate Hunter | Feb 24, 2007 2:43:59 PM

Sorry you had such a negative experience with Jay Pearson. I've met with Jay before and it was actually quite positive. We didn't, ultimately, get the response we wanted from Cantwell, but Jay was quite nice, a good listener and he did lobby on our behalf.

Anyway, I'm sure part of the stunned reaction you got when you first went knocking on the door w/out an appointment is not unusual. As unfair as it may seem, it's not common for senators and their staffs to simply meet with people "dropping-in". Plus, there are security issues for them. That being said, it's pretty easy to get an appointment ahead of time.

Now back to the D.C. press corps and the bloggers...

Posted by: shoephone | Feb 24, 2007 11:45:58 PM

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