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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

 

Jay Rosen thinks that the Press has a deep dark secret.

“The Washington press corps is like that big extended family with a terrible secret that cannot be confronted because everyone knows how bad it would be if the discussion ever got real.”
And what's the secret that' making them neurotic?

I’m sure you have your ideas. Here is mine. I know it will sound crazy (and provide a few chuckles) to those in the room tonight at the Washington Hilton, but I don’t care because the event is itself one gigantic neurotic symptom that begs for some interpretation.

The Washington press corps is like that big extended family with a terrible secret that cannot be confronted because everyone knows how bad it would be if the discussion ever got real. The event at the center of this neurotic system: the failure to detect a phony case for war in 2002 and 2003 and more generally to challenge the Bush forces after 9/11. And this wasn’t just any failure. For a press that imagines itself a watchdog, failing to detect a faulty case for war, then watching the war unfold into the biggest foreign policy disaster in memory… that is an event so huge and deflating that it amounts to an identity crisis.

Now add to that very specific failure a larger lesson that is also too painful to face: in Washington access journalism has been a bust. It doesn’t work. Its practices made possible the spectacular fall down in the run-up to the Iraq War. (Under Obama it’s been so thin that Politico is this week asking: is the White House press corps becoming obsolete?) After a maximal failure like 2002-04 there needed to be a critical reckoning with the whole idea of “access to inside sources as reliable route to scoops.” You can’t maintain that idea and think of yourself as a watchdog, an adversarial force. Not with what happened in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Got it? The thing that's making the press corps crazy is their guilt for failing to stop Bush from invading Iraq. Ever since then, the press has been dysfunctional.

When you read that you realize how deluded Rosen - a handy symbol of the press - really is.

After being challenged, Rosen gets testy. It's fun to read the comments.

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