April 25, 2004

Bush to Journalists: Gotcha!

Jay Rosen wove an excellent essay at Press Think exploring the ramifications of the president's belief that the press -- journalism -- doesn't represent the public.

Rosen quotes a Ken Auletta article:

"And the reporter then said: Well, how do you then know, Mr. President, what the public is thinking? And Bush, without missing a beat said: You're making a powerful assumption, young man. You're assuming that you represent the public. I don't accept that." (Emphasis added.)

In the comments to his essay, Rosen clarifies this point as separate from the partisan positions of a politically liberal (or conservative) press. Says Rosen:

"When Bush says to journalists 'you don't represent the public,' it means a bit more than reporters are unrepresentative, or their views unlike the views of most Americans. I believe Bush is challenging the very notion that journalism is conducted in the public interest, that the public's right to know depends on the press finding things out. That's quite different from "journalists are liberal, Americans on the whole are moderate to conservative," which is not the point the President is making-- even though he probably agrees with that too." (Emphasis added.)

At the root, says Rosen (again quoting Auletta) is Bush's belief that "we don't accept that you have a check and balance function. We think that you are in the game of 'Gotcha.' Oh, you're interested in headlines, and you're interested in conflict. You're not interested in having a serious discussion and, and exploring things."

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Tim Porter at April 25, 2004 03:00 PM