Monday, March 13, 2006

Helen Thomas on lap dogs of the press

(The Nation, March 27, 2006 issue)
Lap Dogs of the Press

Helen Thomas

(This article is adapted from Helen Thomas's forthcoming book, Watchdogs of Democracy? The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public. Copyright © 2006 by Helen Thomas.)

Of all the unhappy trends I have witnessed--conservative swings on television networks, dwindling newspaper circulation, the jailing of reporters and "spin"--nothing is more troubling to me than the obsequious press during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. They lapped up everything the Pentagon and White House could dish out--no questions asked.

Reporters and editors like to think of themselves as watchdogs for the public good. But in recent years both individual reporters and their ever-growing corporate ownership have defaulted on that role. Ted Stannard, an academic and former UPI correspondent, put it this way: "When watchdogs, bird dogs, and bull dogs morph into lap dogs, lazy dogs, or yellow dogs, the nation is in trouble."

The naïve complicity of the press and the government was never more pronounced than in the prelude to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The media became an echo chamber for White House pronouncements. One example: At President Bush's March 6, 2003, news conference, in which he made it eminently clear that the United States was going to war, one reporter pleased the "born again" Bush when she asked him if he prayed about going to war. And so it went.

(There's more.)


Blogger crusader bunnypants said...

Fluff up your feather pillows and keep that hot tar on the back burner for the politcos and news?whores! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

11:44 AM  
Blogger DJShay said...

I love Helen Thomas. Unfortunately, she's a dying breed in the White House Press Corp.

12:13 PM  
Blogger jweisberger said...

While the press has laid down on the job, its really the greater public that has allowed it to happen. Every day ScottyMac cranks out a lot of "I appreciate your question but I'm going to not answer it." stuff and there is no outrage.

Look at how low the President's approval rating is, even based off the margin reporting we have going on. Where is the outrage? 34% approval rating?

Americans just don't care any more, it is all about acting concerned and going back to our nachos.

Anyways - I love the article and I wish the press corp would straighten up on their own - but until American people find a way to hit the mainstream media in the wallet, nothing will change.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

It was a dark day when BushCo moved Helen Thomas to the back of the press briefings.That move as much as any shows the lack of accountability and the level of media secrecy of the current regime.

3:37 PM  
Blogger A Protest Warrior said...

What a hoot! "The press are lap dogs for the administration." As John McEnroe used to exclaim: "You cannot be serious?!" Helen Thomas has shown for decades that she would prefer to behave as a news/opinion talk show host by putting people in a box rather than just getting the facts and reporting them as is her role. Although, it's easier this way for someone with an agenda because they can't ask her questions back. The American people have already hit the "mainstream" media in the pocket by not watching their news or reading their newspapers. Blame Fox News, talk radio and the internet. It's just plain lunacy to point out that a President has a low approval rating and follow it up by claiming that the people who control the news (that drives the low rating) are afraid to criticise him. If the shoe were on the other foot, I have no doubt that Thomas would have been bullied into retirment long ago and called an out-of-touch, mean, old hag for good measure by the progressive liberals in the media. It's all in who's ox is being gored as usual.

8:26 PM  

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