At Salon.com, Glenn Greenwald highlights a very interesting excerpt from Scott McClellan new book:
“If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq.
The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. . . . In this case, the “liberal media” didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.”
I don’t think this has anything to do with a liberal bias and I don’t really care to rehash whether or not the media sources in this country are too liberal or conservative. This isn’t about a liberal/conservative distinction as much as it’s a distinction between courageous and cowardly journalism. By and large, the mainstream journalists covering the White House have not showed a willingness to unite and challenge the propaganda of this administration. Instead, they’ve backed down in order to preserve their access in order to better their individual careers. What we need is a united press corps that can put aside their individual interests.
This is also an issue of what we as a country expect from our leaders. Simply put, our journalists covering the White House have very little access to those who are shaping policy. George Bush has held the fewest unscripted press conferences than any other president in recent memory and somehow that’s not a big deal to the American people. We simply don’t expect that he be put to the test, that his policies be challenged by either journalists or his political opposition.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time traveling in the UK. Oddly enough, one of my favorite things I like about being there is to watch the epic debates in the House of Commons. Considering how little we expect of our President in the way of defending his policies, the contrast with how the UK challenges their Prime Minister is staggering. Imagine Bush having to go before the our elected leaders in Congress and have to debate his policies without a script or a prompter. He would simply be shredded. That would simply be expecting too much of our President. Imagine Bush having to contend with the opposition that British Prime Minister’s deal with on a regular basis. Imagine him doing this:
Maybe if we actually required this kind of debate between those leading our country, the standard of what is required to be a leader would be raised. So maybe the journalists are giving our leaders a pass, but so is our entire political system. Transparency is not protected and that gives way to bad policies and dishonest propaganda.