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February 6, 2009

President Obama's message of change resounded deeply with Americans tired of "business as usual" in Washington, but most people, the President included, have admitted that change does not come easily to Washington. As the President's agenda meets its first resistance in the Capitol, two guests on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL argue that the establishment has a surprising army of defenders — the political press.

NYU journalism professor and PressThink blogger Jay Rosen and political journalist and blogger Glenn Greenwald explain to Bill Moyers that the press, once seen as an agent for change — the "fourth estate" checking power in America — has become thoroughly enmeshed in the establishment, and has a vested interest in preserving it. Jay Rosen explains:

Well, what cannot be considered is that there could be anything radically wrong with Washington. That the entire institution could be broken. That there are new rules necessary. That idea, that the institutions of Washington have failed and need to be changed, doesn't really occur to the press, because they're one of those institutions.
But both Greenwald and Rosen believe that the Internet may change that — by offering ways to circumvent the top-down information exhange of traditional media. As Greenwald explains:
The Internet enables people to construct their own platforms and to attract like-minded people. [...] So that now there are gathering places of hundreds of thousands, if not more citizens, who are just as angry, just as dissatisfied and just as intent on circumventing these institutions, shaming them into changing as well, in order to force the change that they themselves so vigorously resist. And I think there's a cause for optimism in that regard.
Jay Rosen
Jay Rosen is a professor of journalism at New York University and author of PressThink, a weblog about journalism and its ordeals. In June 2005, PressThink won the Reporters Without Borders 2005 Freedom Blog award for outstanding defense of free expression.

In July 2006 he launched NewAssignment.Net, his experimental site for pro-am, open source reporting projects. The first one was called Assignment Zero, a collaboration with A second project is OfftheBus.Net with the Huffington Post.

In 1999, Yale University Press published his book, WHAT ARE JOURNALISTS FOR?, about the rise of the civic journalism movement. Rosen wrote and spoke frequently about civic journalism (also called public journalism) over a ten-year period, 1989-99. From 1993 to 1997 he was the director of the Project on Public Life and the Press, funded by the Knight Foundation.

As a press critic and reviewer, he has published in THE NATION, COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW, the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, NEWSDAY and others. Online he has written for SALON.COM, TOMPAINE.COM and POYNTER.ORG. In 1990 he and Neil Postman hosted a radio show on WBAI in New York called "The Zeitgeist Hour." Rosen is also a member of the Wikipedia Advisory Board.

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a former constitutional lawyer and currently a Contributing Writer at, where he maintains the highly popular political and legal blog Unclaimed Territory. He is also the author of three books: the NEW YORK TIMES-bestsellers HOW WOULD A PATRIOT ACT? (2006) and TRAGIC LEGACY (2007), and his 2008 release, GREAT AMERICAN HYPOCRITES.

Greenwald began his blog October, 2005 and it quickly became one of the most widely read on the Internet. With a daily readership in excess of 100,000, and ranked in Technorati's Top 50 most-cited blogs, Greenwald has become one of the web's most influential political writers, with one of the Internet's largest and most loyal readerships. In September, 2008, NEW YORK MAGAZINE named him one of America's 40 most popular and widely-cited political pundits.

His work has been cited by numerous members of Congress and in Congressional reports; his journalism has been credited by THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES and multiple other publications; and he has regularly appeared on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, DEMOCRACY NOW with Amy Goodman, various NPR and C-SPAN shows, and numerous other shows.

Published February 6, 2009.

Guest photos by Robin Holland.

Related Media:
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References and Reading:

"Daschle's Ambitions Collided, Friends Say"
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg and David D. Kirkpatrick, NEW YORK TIMES, February 4, 2009.

"Obama Rallies Democrats on Stimulus Package"
By Kate Phillips, NEW YORK TIMES, February 5, 2009.

Glenn Greenwald

More on Glenn Greenwald

"Salon Radio: Jay Rosen on the media's control of political debates"
Glenn Greenwald interview with Jay Rosen, SALON.COM, January 16, 2009.

Jay Rosen

Jay Rosen's Web site.

"Audience Atomization Overcome: Why the Internet Weakens the Authority of the Press "
Jay Rosen, on why journalists are political actors, and what the internet changes, PRESSTHINK, January 12, 2009.

"As Democracy Goes, So Goes the Press"
By Jay Rosen, excerpt from WHAT ARE JOURNALISTS FOR?, Yale University Press, 1999.

Published February 6, 2009.

Also This Week:

Is the old media sustaining the old politics? News and analysis with NYU journalism professor and PressThink blogger Jay Rosen and political journalist and blogger Glenn Greenwald

As Abraham Lincoln's bicentennial birthday approaches, Bill Moyers sits down with historian and Lincoln biographer Eric Foner to discuss the legacy and the legend of America's most studied president.

View a photo essay of America's number one icon.

Bill Moyers will chat online Tuesday February 6, 2009 at Get the details.

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