Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The WH Press Corps should just boycott the press conferences

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media. Recommended at Daily Kos

Ari Fleischer’s arrogant bullying was bad. Scott McClellan’s hemming and hawing and non-responses were worse. Tony Snow, the complete “what, we did not say that” liar that he is, lowers the White House press conferences to a farce that is an even bigger waste of time than his predecessors.

At least with McClellan, he would sweat and squirm, which would make for some comedic value. As for Snow (and of course Bush for that matter), the disdain for the truth and those who are asking him the questions is worse than under Fleischer. The outright lies and dismissal of reality truly would make it easier for the White House Press Corps to just sit the press conferences out and take that time to (gasp) do their own digging or reporting.

Because, in reality, there is absolutely nothing that has come out of the press conferences – not just recently, but more so over the past year than before – that is worthy of being printed on toilet paper, let alone newspaper (or online print). Besides, if members of the press are starting to indicate frustration (even a bit), what better way to express it than to either walk out of a press conference or boycott it altogether?

Yeah, yeah, I know....corporate owned media and blah blah blah. But when the only response to questions about hundreds of thousands of missing emails by White House officials is “that is a whole lot of email”, there is a serious problem beyond the “normal”. When a blatant lie about “never saying that the US attorney firings were performance based” when it is very very easy to find the instances where those exact words were used - this goes beyond disdain. It is insulting to the intelligence of the WH Press Corps, the American people and anyone who actually cares to pay attention to these briefings.

True – there was always an element of covering up, stalling or hiding some things from the press, but as with many other things this administration has done, it has gone to new levels. The tone and content of the questions asked has gotten a bit harsher and less friendly over the past few years – and rightfully so. However, the dripping contempt and depth of the lies and arrogant non-responses has sunk to new levels.

One problem and side issue is as long as there is a stream of people moving from the press to official positions in the administration (like Snow and the more recent hiring of a former ABC White House correspondent by the Pentagon), the flow of information that We the People have every right to know will be extremely limited and controlled. However, as some people in the media speak out (including Charles Gibson at a commencement address the other day), there is some level of self awareness and realization (however small) that the “major corporate controlled media” is not doing its’ job. Of course, nobody is really speaking out against their OWN employers (that would be counterproductive).

However, if the White House Press Corps wanted to gain some respect for its’ industry – an industry that has been in a downward spiral in the area of credibility – it would best be served to do something that would actually lend credence to their desire for credibility. In 2005 as well as in 2006, there were surveys done by the Pew Research Center that indicated a big drop in print media credibility (and favorability of US media as credible sources in general) – especially from 2000 – 2006.

This is largely a result (to me) of the lapdog fawning over the lies and bullying of this administration, the refusal to call them out on their lies and distortions, as well as the lack of actually reporting what should be reported as opposed to what is being spoon-fed to them by this administration. Add that to the sensationalism reporting and extreme reporting on things that are of little consequence and importance, people just don’t know or care about what they should know or care about.

Since Tony Snow has taken over, things have gone from bad to worse to unbelievably arrogant, dismissive and full of disdain for any sort of worthwhile responses. If the White House Press Corps (or even some of their members) had any sense of responsibility, they would report on what is NOT being told to them and how they are being willfully lied to by this administration. If they had any backbone left, they would stage a boycott. Even a short term boycott could send a message – probably not to this administration, but certainly to the American people that there is no use in covering something that is such a colossal waste of time.

What if the White House threw a press briefing and nobody showed up? Even for one week? Even for one or two days? At least there would be some level of respect for an institution that is in serious danger of becoming irrelevant.

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