Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Getting Tougher

The establishment media have rediscovered the virtues of acting as an aggressive check on the government.

There is, after all, a Democratic president about to take office.

NBC Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker said that reporters have not been aggressive enough during Obama's post-election pressers.

"Our job is to hold him to account," Whitaker said, adding that he thinks "we're going to have to get tougher."

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter followed up: "We need the Sam Donaldsons of the world."
Mr. Whitaker's sense of outrage over dodged questions would have been welcome during the runup to the invasion of Iraq, the implementation of the Bush torture regime, and administration's campaign of mendacity regarding warrantless surveillance, to name just a few genuine scandals that might have benefitted from the attention of a "tough" press.

But if it takes Obama's reluctance to indulge reporters in yet another round of questions about his non-involvement in the Blagojevich scandal to raise the ire of NBC, well... better late than never, I suppose.

But Mr. Whitaker will need to bring the new host of Meet the Press up to speed sooner rather than later. David Gregory doesn't even think it is his job to hold public officials accountable for the the things they say and do.

I think there‘s a lot of critics—and I guess we can count Scott McClellan as one—who thinks that, if we did not debate the president, debate the policy in our role as journalists, if we did not stand up and say, this is bogus, and you‘re a liar, and why are you doing this, that we didn‘t do our job. And I respectfully disagree. It‘s not our role.
Does this mean the Obama administration can expect a free ride on Meet the Press for the next four years?

I wouldn't bet the mortgage on it.

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