Jamison Foser of Media Matters continues his excellent series on media issues, and today’s post is another winner. I wanted to highlight a bit at the end because it goes directly to Eric Boehlert’s book Lapdogs that we’ll be discussing for tomorrow’s FDL Book Salon. As Jamison writes:
Many journalists are open to criticism of their work. They want to do their jobs as well as they can, and, though they may not always agree with the criticisms they receive, they respect and appreciate the process; they recognize that they aren’t perfect.
Others … others respond less favorably.
Former Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler, who now holds that position for the Public Broadcasting System, recently criticized Boehlert’s Lapdogs, arguing that the book doesn’t prove "that the press rolled over for Bush" because that "would mean knowing what was inside the heads of producers and editors at the time their news decisions were made." In response, Boehlert wrote: "I don’t buy it. Journalists should be judged on the work they produce, not what’s inside their heads while they’re producing it." We at Media Matters agree completely. We can’t know precisely what reporters are thinking and feeling while working on a story, even if we wanted to. Instead, while the Right launches allegations of "bias," we focus on content, not intent. Boehlert may not know why "the press rolled over for Bush" — but it’s clear after reading his book that they did….
ABC’s Jake Tapper, whose false statements downplaying the White House’s now-broken pledge to fire anyone involved in outing Valerie Plame we have repeatedly had to correct, lashed out at us this week. Again. Tapper has now accused us of "dishonesty" and "partisan martyrdom," which he says is an effort to fill our "professional coffers." He has said we are "clearly all-too-eager to engage in standards more fit to last-minute political attack ads than to fair and objective journalism." He has called us "partisan hacks" who "find conservative media bias in every reporter’s ampersand." But while Tapper stoops to name-calling, Media Matters has stuck to the facts. Contrary to his suggestion that we allege "conservative media bias," we have done nothing of the kind. We’ve said he got something wrong, and we’ve provided facts to support that position. Like we said: We focus on content, not intent. But some reporters — and Tapper seems to be one of them — just can’t stand to be told they are wrong. They lash out, they call names, and they claim we are doing something we aren’t.
That’s fine. We aren’t going away, and neither should you.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: progressives don’t want the media to be Pravda, parroting only one side of the issue. They sinply want more truth, and far less truthiness and faux balance. Most journalists with whom I have spoken want this as well.
Boehlert’s book provides a great stepping off point for discussion about these issues, and I hope that everyone will step in tomorrow and join in the book chat. In the meantime, take a read of Jamison’s entire article — I’m interested in thoughts on it, and on the greater question of how best to go forward from where we are at the moment.
Blogs are a great starting point for discussions — but the vast majority of Americans don’t read them (yet). There are so many other ways to start the conversations that need to be had — letters to the editor, calls to local talk radio, discussions at the coffee shop down the street, and on and on. The Republican noise machine has been working all those angles for years — it’s about time we all stepped up and did the same. Jamison makes that point in his article, and I wanted to take some time this morning to tap into the amazing collective wisdom of our readership and beyond, and brainstorm on ways to be more effective at using these outlets.
What have you been doing lately in your community that has been effective? (Obviously BobbyG’s letter to the editor from yesterday is a great example of what you can do as an individual.) We do a lot of issue discussion, but I’d like to take a little time to talk strategy — what is working, what is not, what should we try next. So what do you think?
(PS — Thanks, Taylor, from me and Jane.) [And me! -- Pach]
UPDATE: Gang — Jane’s mom has had to go back in the hospital. We’re going to need some patience over the next few days, since Jane will be travelling to see her and deal with things. And if you could see your way to some thoughts, prayers or whatever it is that you do in this situation, it would be very much appreciated. Thanks.