Ahh, the changing face of journalism over the decades. In the 1920s, H.L. Mencken, described his vision of journalism as a fundamentally adversarial one, no matter who was in charge. “It is the prime function of a really first-rate newspaper to serve as a sort of permanent opposition in politics.”
At some point, however, that began to change, as this John McCain ad from the summer of 2008 reminds us, back when Barry seemed to totally cool and dreamy:
What wouldn’t you do for a guy like that — even if he gets a bit rough a times. He doesn’t mean it when he flies off the handle, right?
JOE SCARBOROUGH: [Reid] says he doesn’t work for Barack Obama. I think he’s wrong.
TAVIS SMILEY: Harry Reid, put down the crack pipe. You don’t work for Barack Obama? We’re all working for Barack Obama.
SCARBOROUGH: What are your thoughts? You’re going to be on Meet The Press next week, next Sunday before the inauguration. What are your thoughts as we now move closer and closer to Barack Obama being sworn in?
SMILEY: These are exciting times. When I was last year, the day after, November 5th, the day after the election, really I was excited then about what had happened and transpired the night before. As an African-american male I revel in this moment. I revel in his humanity, I revel in this victory. I love all the talk about hope and change. Here’s what I fundamentally believe, and there have been a number of examples since the election, Joe, that underscore this for me. I want Barack Obama to be a great president. I want him to be a great president. I believe that he can be a great president. But only if we help make him a great president. It is not left to his own devices, it’s not going to happen. We have to help make him a great president. And that’s not casting aspersion on him. No president who was ever great wasn’t helped in that process. There is no Abraham Lincoln without Frederick Douglas. And we could do this all day long. Every great president had people pushing them, had people helping them and encouraging them, empowering them to become great presidents. So I believe Obama can be. I want him to be. But we have to help make this guy a great president.
– “Tavis Smiley of PBS: ‘We’re All Working For Barack Obama,’” Newsbusters, January 9, 2009.
Somewhere though, the bloom fell off the romance:
NBC News Senior Investigative Correspondent Lisa Myers appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss the growing AP scandal involving the Dept. of Justice secretly obtaining phone records of reporters with the Associated Press.
Myers maintained that it was unlikely that the president knew about the wire tapping because “from a political standpoint,” it would anger “one of the president’s most important constituencies, the press.” Given that, said Myers, “it’s hard to imagine they would have green-lighted this thing.”
– “NBC News Reporter: AP Scandal Angers One Of Obama’s ‘Most Important Constituencies – The Press,’” Big Journalism, yesterday.
It is beginning to dawn on America’s journalists—a group predisposed, in aggregate, to admire and vote for Barack Obama—that the president and his administration are becoming a clear and present danger to the craft they practice. The Obama Justice Department’s collection of vast phone records from the Associated Press, hot news in the past two days, has news people in a tizzy if not a fury.
They are right to be angry, if a bit hypocritical given news organizations’ widespread indifference to civil liberties breaches that don’t affect them so directly. The AP records collection—by most accounts aimed at identifying a leaker inside the government—is an escalation of the administration’s unprecedented war on leaks, a war that has made journalists a secondary but no less real target of surveillance.
Once they get over being shocked, shocked at the administration’s increasingly obvious antipathy toward what they do, American journalists will have to face up to the changed conditions in which they operate.
– “How Journalists Can Protect Themselves From the U.S. Government, at the Washington Post-owned, and JournoList-tained Slate, yesterday.
What we have now discovered about Barack Obama and Eric Holder’s America, if we didn’t already know it, is that any belief in a benign and decent government in this country is absolute horseshit. Liberalism has been revealed as a fascist joke.
It’s every man for himself now. We are at war. Lennon and McCartney didn’t know how prescient they were when they wrote:
Been away so long I early knew the place
Gee, it’s good to be back home
Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case
Honey disconnect the phone
I’m back in the USSR
You don’t know how lucky you are, boy
Back in the US
Back in the US
Back in the USSR
Honey, disconnect the phone indeed. Wise words. Maybe that’s all we can do now, but I hope not. Maybe, just maybe, we are reaching a turning point and enough people will wake up. If they don’t now, with everything that’s going on, it’s probably over.
– Roger L. Simon, Back in the USSR: ‘Honey, Disconnect the Phone,’ today.