Thursday, November 10, 2005

Media failure

This is an excerpt from an essay by William Grieder. He refers to the Washington media elite.
He could as well be writing about Sacramento media pundits. See the several articles on Daniel Weintraub on this blog.
If you click on the title, it will take you to the complete original.

The burnt odor in Washington is from the disintegrating authority of the governing classes. The public's darkest suspicions seem confirmed. Flagrant money corruption, deceitful communication of public plans and purposes, shocking incompetence -- take your pick, all are involved. None are new to American politics, but they are potently fused in the present circumstances. A recent survey in Wisconsin found that only 6 percent of citizens believe their elected representatives serve the public interest. If they think that of state and local officials, what must they think of Washington?

We are witnessing, I suspect, something more momentous than the disgrace of another American President. Watergate was red hot, but always about Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon. This convergence of scandal and failure seems more systemic, less personal. The new political force for change is not the squeamish opposition party called the Democrats but a common disgust and anger at the sordidness embedded in our dysfunctional democracy. The wake from that disgust may prove broader than Watergate's (when democracy was supposedly restored by Nixon's exit), because the anger is also splashing over once-trusted elements of the establishment.

Heroic truth-tellers in the Watergate saga, the established media are now in disrepute, scandalized by unreliable "news" and over-intimate attachments to powerful court insiders. The major media stood too close to the throne, deferred too eagerly to the king's twisted version of reality and his lust for war. The institutions of "news" failed democracy on monumental matters. In fact, the contemporary system looks a lot more like the ancien régime than its practitioners realize. Control is top-down and centralized. Information is shaped (and tainted) by the proximity of leading news-gatherers to the royal court and by their great distance from people and ordinary experience.

http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/27790/


William Greider is National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation. He is the author of, most recently, "The Soul of Capitalism" (Simon & Schuster).
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