Monday, April 30, 2012

The column Jack Kelly should write/have written

Today I saw a column about how certain significant parts of the media (really the most well known parts - the Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New York Times. Time, NBC) are slavishly trumpeting the achievements of the Obama administration, and in return are granted extensive access - to Osama bin Laden's private documents, to the White House Situation Room and to comments from high officials. My first thought was this is the sort of thing Jack Kelly wants to say exists, yet it was not a product of the PG and/or Jack Kelly. This column came from Salon and Glenn Greenwald . I suppose I should have known it could not be Jack Kelly since the column was rather scrupulously fair. The column noted that much the same thing (part of the press corp being slavishly positive and thus being granted exclusive access) occurred during the Bush administration. I would suggest that some time during Bush's second term increasing parts of the press corps started to attack the Bush administration, but certainly it seemed the press was incredibly faithful in reporting exactly what the administration wanted them to say in the run up to the war in Iraq.

The lesson Greenwald takes from this similarity of affairs (I assume one might well find such a situation in all administrations going back 40 years or more) is that the motivation of these reporters is specifically not political. The reporters are not interested in supporting Obama because he is a Democrat per se, they are intoxicated by the proximity to the power of the office. I will say I remember Bob Woodward (surely the very icon of liberal journalism) wrote some rather positive books about George Bush during the Bush administration, books made at least better by some pretty exclusive access.

Still, the point of Greenwald's column should not be understated. The Obama administration have taken drone attacks to a new level, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is a war on whistle blowers and on legal (at the state level) medical marijuana that has exceeded not only what the Bush administration did, but to some extent all previous administrations. There is the assassination of Anwar Al-Awlaki and his son, both American citizens, without the benefit of trial or any sort of due process. There is even the failure of the administration to examine the activities of the Bush administration.

I suppose it is good news that the Obama administration has not come up with some "unitary executive" theory of government, although it is bad enough that the administration is saying these assassinations of American citizens are being reviewed and decided on by a secret group of advisers. Even though Kelly (stupidly) thinks that a liberal media is in bed with the Obama administration, his actual point that the press is not doing its job; it is not challenging the administration on many substantive issues. Unfortunately Kelly can almost always only just repeat the (Tea) Party line, so he is no help on this front either.

Too bad the PG hasn't syndicated Glenn Greenwald.

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