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Politics, the Press, and the Public

(Photos by Robin Holland)

In this week’s JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with prominent bloggers Jay Rosen and Glenn Greenwald about the role of the establishment press in America’s dysfunctional political system.

Rosen suggested that members of the press may have a variety of preconceived notions through which they filter their reporting:

“If you're a career Washington reporter, how do you know that your knowledge is always going to be relevant throughout your career? Well, if politics is just an inside game, then you're always on top of it. If all of a sudden, a new dynamic enters it, you may not have the knowledge you need to be the expert, to be the authority. And I think there's a tendency for Washington journalists to see everything converging towards the political game that they are themselves masters of.”

Greenwald argued that the establishment media may be an impediment to political change:

“If you were to say to normal Americans... that members of Congress leave office and make millions of dollars doing nothing other than essentially peddling influence to wealthy individuals who can have their way with Congress, most people consider that to be corruption. That's what Barack Obama called it when he ran. Yet, to members of the media, who have spent their lives in Washington, who are friends and colleagues of the people who are engorging themselves on this corrupt system, that is just the way of life. It's like breathing air or drinking water. It's not anything that's noteworthy, let alone controversial... What's going to have to happen is his supporters, on whom he relies for his political power, are going to have to be the ones holding him accountable, by being angry and dissatisfied when he seems to be off the course that he promised he would stay on.”

On the other hand, many observers perceived that the establishment press supported Barack Obama, who campaigned as and was widely considered the candidate of change. Michael S. Malone of ABC accused the press of “shameless support” for Democrats, while Mark Halperin of TIME cited “extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage” during election season.

What do you think?

  • Is the establishment press an impediment to or an agent for bringing change to Washington? Why or why not?

  • What role should journalists play in our democracy? Explain.

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    What would be the repercussions if Adam Curtis' "The Trap" and "The Century of the Self" were aired on mainstream television repeatedly for a month? That is an experience in social unrest I would pay dearly to see.

    Check these docs out on You Tube. They put the last 100 years, especially the last 20, into very clear perspective.

    ellie: It will be interesting to see.
    I've noticed the same phenomenon about non-profit enterprises and charity fundraising you have. If you'll look at another post page on BMJb ("What's the Future of the American Dream?"-you'll see I had an argument with a real estate man from Omaha named Stan Lessmann. Well Stan owned a condo project in downtown Omaha, Nebraska and sales were flat. He cooked up a scheme involving an old railroad bridge over the Missouri River. The bridge crossed just above 3 gambling casinos in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which is just across the river from Omaha. He wanted the casinos to put up a little money to "Light the Bridge" with the railroad's permission. The bridge was also visible from his condos. At the bottom of the scheme a pittance would go to the regional food bank. The food bank director agreed to endorse the deal. The pittance at the bottom was the justification for his not-for-profit "Light the Bridge" foundation. He would put a do-nothing member of his family in as well-paid director, condo sales would perk up and "everyone" would be happy. What made me mad was when he insisted that the lit bridge, the casino deal and food bank publicity would give the homeless and hungry people inspiration. Having been homeless and hungry myself I wanted to kick his stupid behind and I told him so right on this blog. Well, he went ballistic and called my employer here in NJ. And he attacked my friend in Charlotte, NC who had republished our exchange on a local public radio board. I don't know where "Light the Bridge" stands now but I hope he hurt his own project by acting like an ass. All charity has had these tendencies since St. Vincent de Paul, 400 years ago and I think it is time for a simplification and a clean-up. Working people always give the most of any group, but greedy robbers get all the tax breaks and the credit. I hope Bill Gates gets malaria. He has released more bugs into the modern environment than anyone else.

    What do you think about a book discussing the ever changing role of the media called The Triumph of the Political Class by Peter Osborne. It discusses the power of the media & suggests government has less to do with being public servants & more to do with creating a political elite that pursues power and patronage & they use the press as the key method of communication between the rulers and the ruled. Does the mainstream media act in a way that could be described as independent of the Political Class? Rather than voters being informed are they being deceived and are the checks on power in government being utilised as initially intended by the Founding Fathers? Is it the arrogant and self-interested, self-serving ruling elite versus the rest of the population? These are all questions that deserve careful & intelligent consideration.

    Mark, it is naive to suggest that the MSM is equally threatened by Left and Right perspectives. It is true that the MSM is threatened by those who disrupt its narrative, and access to avenues of power by which it maintains its status, but it is even more threatened by those who disrupt its profits and disrupt the conditions that produce profits for its sponsors. The MSM is part of a capitalist system and benefits from it, and thus acts accordingly to protect it; if it didn't, it wouldn't be in business as a mainstream institution. This protection allows for some range of opinion, but certain subjects are clearly managed and others out of bounds, and this behaviorist code is its narrative.

    As Greenwald points out, "it is all about the content of the views." The views of the RIght are not particularly disruptive. Though there is some right-wing omission, it mostly fall into the range of perspectives generated by Klu Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi sympathizers. Their equivalent on the left would be views sympathetic to Ted Kaczynski, violent revolutionaries contrasting violent reactionaries. But as is pointed out in this interview, we hear from a lot of MSM, institutionalized, pro-corporate, arch-conservative commentators in the news, including: Rush Limbaugh, J Gordon Liddy, Ann Coulter, Bill Bennett, Glenn Beck, JC Watts, Kathleen Parker, Bill O'Reilly, Tony Snow, Cal Thomas, George Will, Rich Lowry, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, Michael Barone, Peggy Noonan, Paul Gigot, Larry Kudlow, and I would add David Brooks. The contrast to these people in the MSM are supposed to be Maureen Dowd, Rachel Maddow, EJ Diionne, Frank Rich, Paul Klugman, Seymour Hersh, and their ilk. But the views of these liberal commentators do not truly express the range of the progressive left opposition to corporate and political institutional policies and structure. For that we need to turn to the perspective of Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva, Arundhati Roy, David Korten, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Rachel Maddow, Heather Digby Parton, Bob McChesney, Barbara Kingsolver, Wangari Maathai, Helen Caldicott, Medea Benjamin, Sonali Kohaktur, Laura Flanders, Christy Hardin Smith, Jane Hamsher, Ann Wright, Glen Ford, Marjorie Cohn, Cornel West, Daniel Berrigan, Ward Churchill, Eduardo Galeano, Howard Zinn, Cynthia McKinney, etc. (Thanks to C Lee for putting together the list.) You will seldom find the views espoused by these people in the MSM, certainly not debated or even presented on an equivalent basis to the views on the Right. As Greenwald said, "it would disrupt the entire narrative."

    I don’t know anything about Glenn Greenwald and Jay Rosen. However, from listening to the interview, I’m guessing they’re leftward leaning. They feel that the media has more or less covered for Bush and victimized the left. Coincidentally, right wing talk shows state frequently that they are victimized by this same main stream media who them claim is liberally biased. Everyone wants to be a victim.

    That said, I think it was insightful that they claimed that the MSM was threatened by anything that undercut their base of power. That this translates to the MSM being biased more against the left than the right is only believable to those who really want to think that powerful forces are against them. I think this threat is only one factor in their bias. Also with so many right wing radio talk shows and cable shows, there are plenty of threats to the MSM from the right. It would have been nice, though surprising, to have heard this side of things.

    So we have three leftward leaning experts claiming the media is against them (or at least against what they believe in). So do we get balance now by turning on right wing TV so we can listen to three conservatives whine about how the media is being mean to them too? It’s all the same – just keep throwing red meat to your supporters and demonize the opposition.

    "Obama ran on being bi-partisan, he wanted to be seen as a non-ideologue, he touted that he would bring Republicans into his administration (and has). Why blame the media for applauding when Obama does the very things he said he would?

    Well said!

    Glenn and Jay speak as though Obama is not in control of whom he chooses for his cabinet...that he hasn't selected people who run within the Washington system....that somehow he is a victim of "Washington."

    Obama never said he would fight Republicans tooth and nail for progressive issues. It's not just the media who wants Obama to stay clear of the Left, it may also be Obama himself. For my part, I wanted a fighter...the Right could care less about being bi-partisan and playing nice. I hope our President finds his outrage and voices it more often. It was pleasant to hear today.

    Boy, was the Greenwald and Rosen segment refreshing! You need to have them come back soon! In the meantime, I will be checking out their blogs. I agree that these days the establishment press tends to be an impediment to real change (and insight, as was obvious from listening to Messrs. Rosen and Greenwald; an hour or two later I saw Charlie Rose and a couple of his usual cronies discuss the week's events and it was a session oozing with insider savvy, mostly from Al Hunt) and have thought so for a while. It's reassuring to know that it's not just 61-year old me being cranky.

    I am old enough to remember the Civil Rights and Vietnam War protests. I thought the pre-Iraq protests were reminiscent of them, and impressive, at least here in New York City. Yet they didn't seem to be taken very seriously.

    I often have the urge to protest these days, but am not much of an organizer. I noticed in the news today that over the weekend a group protested outside the home of John Mack (CEO of Morgan Stanley) in Rye, NY and outside the home in Greenwich, CT of someone I wasn't familiar with but who was a bigshot connected with the subprime mortgage debacle (I think the protesting group represents homeowners in trouble).This was apparently disconcerting to local police. I would love to see that in Manhattan. A protesting mob outside 740 Park Av. (NY pied a terre of JOhn Thain and other bigshots). I would also like people to stand up, and would be happy to join them, to demand the same health insurance that members of Congress have.

    On my next point I know I am going to sound like a nut, or at least Spiro Agnew, but as far as this savviness issue goes,I agree, and I think it extends beyond the Washington media and political establishment to New York media and politics,to some segments of the business and finance world, and what is sometimes referred to as the "charity circuit." I think the relationships between all the people in this "elite" circle -- feeding off each other and contributing to each other's charities -- is often a disincentive to creative thinking and change. I believe this atmosphere contributed to Michael Bloomberg's failure to understand the depth of the upcoming financial crisis, failure to develop any business in NY other than finance and tourism, and failure to foresee the increasing loss of the middle class in NYC.

    I had an interesting experience this weekend when I tried to comment to some members of Congress regarding a provision in the stimulus bill that was in the House version but not in the Senate version. I also decided to send the President an email. Sending the President an email and navigating the White House's friendly, informative website was easy. I'm sorry I can't say the same thing about some of the web sites and pages of various members and committees of Congress (reinforcing my suspicion that members of Congress are a bunch of out of touch self-congratulatory old farts).
    I wonder how the President is going to use his electronic tools --will he use them to go directly to the people? It will be interesting to see.

    How does main stream media reassure the people when Obama warns that our economic meltdown disaster could become a permanent catastrophe? They use superstition and trot out the good omen of Sully Sullenberger and US Airways Flight 1549. If an airliner with 150 passengers can lose power to goose ingestion over Manhattan and not crash and burn then certainly they suggest such is the prognosis for our nation of 300 million souls. We inhabit a charmed and favored vessel that will soon enjoy a soft landing and immediate rescue on water. Everyone will react in a ideal manner and the equipment will deploy in a timely fashion.

    Not bloody likely! Even ambiguous Joe Biden is offering odds of 70% success and 30% failure, or is it 30% success and 70% failure? And he's part of the rescue team. Here we are being asked to base our faith and decisions upon an unlikely outcome. Sullenberger could just as likely have crashed the powerless A300 Airbus on a New Jersey boulevard and taken the lives of many on the ground. He could have hit the George Washington Bridge or its pilings, or collided with a Circle Line Ferry or any commercial vessel. Even a small pleasure craft in the wrong place could have cost many lives. Like our economy, his plane had a meteoric descent.

    Obama said tonight the opaqueness of banks and other big businesses may hide enormous debt government cannot handle. Obama said tonight that the capping of wages is in order. Obama said tonight that the engine of our existence is income earned from manufacturing jobs that no longer exist. Like in the Laurie Anderson song, "We're going down! We're all going down together!" Obama also mentioned the withholders of capital. They were the winners of the greed sweepstakes who sabotaged our aircraft for the insurance. He wants to forget the past and lure these players back into the plummeting economy. How would that be possible? Their chutes are already open and they're landing in the Caymans.

    Captain Obama is flying a worn out crate without proper upkeep or safety equipment. The wings are about to fall off. He will not make the turn over the Hudson. I think we are going to crash into Wall Street, near where Bushites demolished the Twin Towers and #7. They've already wired the economy with explosives to hide the evidence. Scavengers will haul away anything of value and the metals for recycling, but the thermite will sizzle in in that deep inferno of destruction for centuries.
    Grasp your ankles corporate capitalism, and kiss your butt goodbye.

    Not so fast say the people.
    We didn't buy a ticket for this bullcrap. Let's change these rules and assumptions, not lived life trapped in an aluminum tube powered by an oil furnace. We can build our own style of airships filled with helium and powered by wind and sun. Just let us at the tools. You've made your inferno, you cash hogs, go wallow in it and leave us alone. Your storybook media has lost its narrative.

    The media serves the interests of the powers that be. It has no real interest in the truth or bringing positive change. And that is more true now than ever before. The public is realizing this and is turning to alternatives. The main stream media is at this point a total joke.

    Mr. Moyers letter to the ditor of the WSJ published today (2/9/09) is a vicious lie. Moyers is a Hamas stooge.

    I never miss Moyers' Journal, as I have my DVR set to a series recording. I thought that Greenwald & Rosen had some very insightful observations, but, I think they overlook the simplest of motives: greed.

    I posted this comment on MMFA, before I viewed this episode of BMJ:

    I watch (with the aid of my DVR) all 3 cable-news nets, and the Sabbath Gasbags, Sunday Mornings, on broadcast channels.

    What I have seen lately reminds me so much of 1993 (only WORSE, with the addition of FoxNewz and the expansion of RW hate-radio):

    1) From the moment Inauguration Week started (MUCH earlier on Fox), CNN & MSNBC have vowed/threatened "intense scrutiny" of Obama and the Democrats' agenda - this, after Bush's SEVEN-YEAR media honeymoon - and the constant meme that "Obama will have more trouble from his own party than from Republicans" - laying the groundwork for Repubs to blame Dems/Obama for everything the GOP does...

    2) The media above has been parroting the RNC spin (sometimes directly, sometimes via Drudge, or AM hate-jocks) about the "Obama Stimulus plan." The pundits, talk-show hosts & guests (I swear I saw EVERY senate Repub given 5-10 minutes in the last 2-3 days, on MSNBC & CNN, while only allowing Democratic CRITICS - Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad.. - of the bill, to have their say) are all pointing to the same TINY expenditures - $20B for contraceptives & re-sodding the DC mall (1/40th of 1% each) which have been removed, but are still being bashed, $5M for the NEA (1/160th of 1%), etc. If the Dems concede these points and remove the above items, the GOP/RNC/Drudge will just come up with a new list of TINY items to ridicule. They've been playing this like an election campaign - the media has allowed the RW to define both the Obama/Dems' plan (BAD!), and their own plan(s) (GOOD!)

    In addition, the media has been repeating GOP attacks on almost EVERY person Obama has named to his cabinet - except the Republican ones. The media pile-on is like nothing I've seen before! They've thrown a year's worth of attacks and smears - with a large dollop of ridicule - in just TWO WEEKS!

    The trillion-dollar question is WHY? In 6 words - our media is too well paid! Back in '93, Clinton & his Democratic majorities passed a recovery bill that raised taxes on the top 1% (which includes MOST media types). The media allied with Gingrich, DeLay, Lott, Limbaugh, the RNC, Luntz, et al, to bring Clinton down - by saddling him with far-RW GOP majorities in both houses, culminating with the impeachment/coup, and the savaging of Gore.

    When Bush unveiled his tax plan - with its massive breaks for the top 1% - back in '99, the media went into full swoon. Bush could do no wrong, Gore could do no right. He passed his plan (Funny, you didn't hear the media/GOP bitching about THAT $1.3 TRILLION, as they're currently screaming about the current ($819B) plan) and followed up with another massive give-away to the wealthiest, and still more, via cap gains and dividend taxes.

    If you take some of the media's high-flying news/pundits, for example, the late Tim Russert, who was making almost $30M salary at NBC. He was getting $1.38 MILLION shoved back into his pocket, every year Bush was in office - just from the income-tax cuts, I can't fathom how much he saved from cap-gains/dividend tax cuts...

    They've gotten used to all this extra money, and they don't want to get off the gravy train. Notice how the "liberal" media got behind McCain - once he stated, in a GOP debate, that, even though he had originally voted against them, he was in favor of making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Also, notice that EVERY interview of Obama or any Democrat, features - prominently - the question "You're not going to raise [MY!] taxes, are you? You CAN'T raise taxes on anyone [ME!] during an economic slowdown"

    Then, where does it go from here? Nobody knows, but I'll speculate: Obama was at almost 80%. Just the bashing he's been taking from the GOP/media has brought him down to 63%. So, they keep up the bashing - to tank Obama's numbers. The Repubs will filibuster virtually EVERY bill the Dems put up for a vote (house Repubs will just vote "NO", unanimously) - then run against "an unpopular president and his do-nothing congress" and the media (in their dreams) gets to keep their massive tax breaks, and even add MORE high-end tax cuts!

    When America's in trouble, the wealthy can always be counted on to step up and fill their own pockets, with the "remedy."

    I watch you EVERY Friday and have loved your shows since the Joseph Campbell interviews. WOW !!!
    Glen Greenwald NAILED IT as
    far as the press and the R's. Liberal media indeed.
    Thanks and DON'T EVER DIE,


    You really did yourself proud on this one.

    I felt the same admiration for you I felt in the 70's.

    You actually showed some anger and I think your backbone got a lot sraighter.

    Good for you!

    The establishment press is owned by corporations who serve institutional investors.

    Once people understand this basic fact, they will start to understand the motives and processes for developing "the news."

    As Greenwald & Rosen stated over and over -- the Washington Press is more concerned with maintaining the status quo than conducting objective analyses on events on the Hill and in the White House. Therefore, the commentary we read every morning is more propaganda than fact or analysis.

    So, if the Media is just reciting Government propaganda, and the Government itself is propagating what it wants the Citizens to believe, then you have an insane cycle where people are inundated with false narratives.

    "Political Reality" is an oxymoron because there is no concrete reality -- only interpretations... somehow the "facts" have been so obscured and obfuscated, the normal hard-working American does not have the time nor the inclination to find our the truth.

    And where there is no truth there is chaos.

    That is where we are at the moment...

    Journalists, or the Fourth Estate [as they sometimes refer to themselves] should be faithfully reporting the activities of our Government. They should not be getting "cozy" with politicians and government figures; instead, they should criticize where necessary, but mainly present an objective narrative so the Citizen can develop their own opinions.

    There used to be reporters who reported the news -- and the Op-Ed & Editorial pages where newspaper opined on current events. Now, the reporting is so slanted and devoid of facts it scarcely can be called "news."

    I wish Washington Journalists had higher IQs; strong ethics; keen investigative skills; intellectual curiosity; and the courage to challenge Government propaganda.

    Until then, I will continue to search out credible information online.

    THANK YOU so much for this segment, Bill Moyers. Even though I think your guests were too easy on mainstream journalists - attributing their shameless propagandizing for the right as a 'need for respect' (whereas I think they are pretty much just being obedient employees following the orders of their corporate owners) - I really appreciate a SANE and honest dissection of the situation. Even a purported 'media watchdog' show like NPRs "On the Media" would not dare to run a segment like the one you did.

    The way I like to describe the mainstream media is as the 'gatekeepers of the conventional wisdom'. As your two guests so ably describe, they have an incredible amount of power in determining which ideas supposedly represent the 'norm' and which are supposedly on the fringe.

    What I would also like to add to your guests' comments in regards to how the media is not covering protest marches in Europe...

    Well, I went to a HUGE protest march in New York City (against torture and other such abuses) some months ago. It was on a saturday afternoon and Broadway was completely cleared of traffic from 23rd street to City Hall (in other words, this was not small affair). I am not good with numbers but there had to have been at least 60,000 - 100,000 protesters.

    Unlike some earlier anti-Iraq-war marches I had been to, I saw ZERO media presence there, absolutely NO video trucks, maybe a handful of photographers (and there's no way of knowing if they were journalists). It was eerie to see SUCH a big event with so little acknowledgement by anybody but the police, of whom there were hundreds (or more) lining the route.

    Afterwards, curious about how many were in the crowd, I went to look for stories about the march and it turned out that NOBODY in the major media covered it - the march was not even MENTIONED in the New York Times anywhere within the entire paper - not even in the LOCAL NEWS section.

    It brought home how much the mainstream media controls what 'reality' is for Americans. If they do not cover it - it does not exist. Even a huge swath of manhattan can be shut down and thousands of people can come out to make themselves heard - but media censorship effectively silences their voices.

    I share the concerns your guests have about Obama. If he is truly entering his presidency thinking the mainstream media is going to give him a fair shot, he is sadly mistaken. I love how your guests said how the Media has been 'rewarding' Obama with praise when he makes decisions more favorable to the status-quo - that is SO true - and SO scary.

    It is interesting that even here at this site the debate over the MSM is framed as though the columnist Michael Malone and Alexender Burns are on one end of the field, claiming that the media has a liberal bias, while Greenwald and Rosen are at the other end, saying that the media "may be an impediment to political change." The supposition here is that Malone and Burns claim that the MSM is too supportive of the Democratic party (and Obama especially) contrasts the argument of Greenwald and Rosen that the MSM will not admit the views of the Progressive Left. It paints the picture of an attempt to reconcile two conflicting poles of argument.

    Such a picture is a false dichotomy. In this case, Malone and Burns are straw men, held up to symbolize opposition. The real influential pressure (if we can call it that when many are willing participants) on the MSM comes not from them, but from the agents that the institutional structure of the MSM itself must answer to by nature.

    In actuality, the MSM is hostile in a variety of subtle ways to views considered threatening to its interests and internal narrative, as Greenwald said. But Obama is not particularly threatening to the narrative of the press, nor to the corporate interests which support the MSM. The change that he represents is more promise than policy, to date more image than substance. He has demonstrated by the bombing of Pakistan that he will play within the system much as Bill Clinton did, so he can be safely, if cautiously, praised. Moreover, the strategy of supporting Obama as a reformer actually works to the advantage of the MSM. As long as the debate stays within bounds, as long as the conflict is between the in-bounds, so-called "liberal" Left and the Right, then it is all to the better for the elite interests who largely support the status quo. It soothes the public anger at the excesses of the Bush administration. So far, Obama has not indicated that he will disrupt the system in any significant way. If he strays from bounds, or fails to protect the vital interests of the elite (which are not the same thing as the national interest, though this will seldom be admitted) he will be attacked and dropped from favor like a hot potato, by even the "liberal" MSM such as the Times and the Post.

    Media institutions face internal and external pressures, but they are not due to straddling liberalism and conservatism, except perhaps very slightly in the way two people might argue over a sports contest. The true points of contention concern what is threatening to the MSM itself, and to its sponsors and narrative.

    As the three of you were talking about the internet working both ways, I remembered the attempt by the 9/11 Truth movement to communicate with Mr. Moyers last year when he requested recommendations for books that the new president should read. A lot of 9/11 Truth people recommended the latest book by David Ray Griffin on 9/11 Truth. After many objections, Mr. Moyers stated that he didn't include the book in 'his' list because there had been an 'orchestrated effort' to communicate with him about it. Here is an e-mail that I sent to him on 22 February 2008 which remains unanswered. Are we sure that the internet works both ways?

    Dear Mr. Moyers,

    I respect you tremendously as an open-minded, courageous, thoughtful, and compassionate man. When you decided to return to news commentary a couple of years ago, I was delighted because I believe that your voice is invaluable at this time.

    I didn't take part in your request for recommendations for books for a future president to read, but would have suggested David Ray Griffin's The New Pearl Harbor. I read it after seeing Professor Griffin's interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. His meticulous research and analysis of the 9/11 question convinced me beyond a doubt that the true story is far different than we have heard from the media and our government. I was especially impressed, as an academic librarian for 30 years, that, like the scholar that he is, Professor Griffin did not jump to conclusions about the contradictions in the available evidence, but simply and carefully described the issues that need to be resolved. If his more recent book, Debunking 9/11 Debunking, was the object of an 'orchestrated campaign' to be named on the Journal, that is because there are many people like me who feel dismay and despair at the fact that these questions have been asked for years and have met with only indifference or ridicule in the press. No doubt those who suggested the book to you believed that you were one of the journalists who would pay attention.

    I implore you to talk with David Ray Griffin. As you probably know, he is a theologian, retired from Claremont College. If you talk with him personally and, even better, read The New Pearl Harbor (Olive Branch Press, 2004) I believe that you will think that his views are well reasoned and well presented and that they deserve serious consideration.

    The best outcome would be an interview with Professor Griffin on the Journal. If, as some other writers on the Journal blog suggest, you are 'not allowed' to address the issue, I hope that you will consider the implications of that situation.

    So I'd like to challenge you to look into this issue more deeply.

    Thank you so much.


    Karen Rice
    Bellingham WA

    Inspired always by Bill, and this week by Jay and Glenn, I crafted this letter to Pres. Obama:
    Dear President Obama,
    I thank you for your heart of service and your desire to steer America back toward the direction it was originally intended by our founders. You are doing a masterful job initiating yourself in the complex issues and conflicting personalities in your midst. While “Washington” and the press try to define you with their typical common brush, I see that you are the round peg to their square hole, the new wine to their old wineskins. You are truly a force to be reckoned with.
    As you well know, in preaching a “new Washington” with its attending light of transparency you will of necessity be compelled to compromise between the entrenched status quo and your transformative visions which have deeply resonated with the American people. While you proceed in the necessary compromises, I wish to reinforce the notion that your strongest ally in the process will be this public rally cry. Your efforts to change Washington will be most effectively assisted to the extent that your visionary ideas are set free from the constricted views fomenting from the fossilized press and media.
    We hungry multitudes here in the trenches are mobilizing in diverse ways. I urge you to continue to monitor and expand all innovative communication channels available--internet, Twitter, Link TV, PBS and NPR, Global news—creative formats which will MAKE VISIBLE and AUDIBLE, beyond all doubt, your message and the resounding voice and opinions of We the People who are supporting you in your efforts to bring about change. I encourage you to enlist in these efforts insightful individuals like Jay Rosen and Glenn Greenwald and Bill Moyers, to name a few.
    You are well aware of the need. My aim is to commend you and underscore urgency in expansion of this communication endeavor. Americans have long-awaited “light on the hill”. And now—thank God!-- with you as our President you are indeed leading the flock in the better way, and “in formation” we will all fly faster and higher toward a “more perfect union”.
    God Bless you, Barack Obama!

    Mr. Moyers, in my opinion the establishment press is incapable of being an agent of change because they are one-and-the-same as the the corporate status quo.

    Journalist's need to seek and expose what important and powerful people would like to keep hidden from the public.

    That's news! And to quote YOU, "everything else is public relations."

    Kate!! thank YOU, your story is not exactly mine, but close enough. After watching this segment I am inspired to try to mobilize "like-minded" people to advocate for true change. If you agree I will gladly send you my email and we can talk.
    I will check back here to see if you comment. Lois

    Why could not have our floundering media warn us about America’s colossal economic collapse? That’s because our rather poor quality education makes us accept everything as they are, including corruption and abuse. Such corruptions are so widespread and so ingrained in us now they are part of our routine ways of living and conducting business in America. Thus we are increasingly have lost our ability to look at situation and figure out what’s going on. Tell ourselves what’s right and what’s wrong. Like a doctor looking at patient and coming up with the right diagnosis determining what’s right or wrong is no more. Everything and anything is allowed in the name of freedoms. Thus we have removed the filters that save us from danger. The press has no use except to dramatize and amplify the obvious. Media critics are no better. In a society everything is permitted, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn pointed we are a society that lives on the outer limits of the law; we have lost our moral bearings. Underneath our economic crisis there’s a colossal moral crisis in America. Like a vicious infectious disease, it will continue to eat away America, over and again.

    To whom it may concern,
    The truth will make you free and the lies will make you a slave...
    The reality of the situation is that the present economic system can not be "fixed". The only way to a realistic solution to the present economic system is to replace it with a Demand side economic system that provides the necessary capital to allow the demand side of economics to support the supply side of economics.
    We the people are the demand side of economics not the established institutions.

    "It is not by spectacular achievements that man can be transformed, but by will."
    Henrik Ibsen

    I'm mad as hell and damn angry. Crazy like, maybe even insane. But politics as usual has no more place in my America. While the DNC and the GOP jockey with each other for power and control, they have forgotten the people they serve and only selfishly serve themselves. Their peer to peer infighting like children is most disgusting and not befitting of the station we gave them to do the peoples' work.
    The republicans with some help from democrats let President Bush spend at least five trillion dollars. The money wasted on his whims and their appetite to cut taxes for the rich and the wealthy. Plus trillions of of dollars for Wall Street and corporations to a nonsense war they squandered it.
    All failed while congress twiddled and fiddled. Now Washington is waking up from their drunken spending spree with a hangover and want to offer us crumbs from their table with more tax cuts for the rich and wealthy.
    After spending us into bankruptcy how dare they offer us crumbs!
    The President is pressing congress for only as much as he thinks he can get from them but think again Mr President. The sweetners and pork to grease their wheels to entice them does not fix the broken wheel.
    The recovery stimulus at present only fills the glass fifteen percent or 85 percent empty. How dare they offer us crumbs!
    Crumbs from the crumbs, the egotistical stuffed shirts, overwhelmed by their own importance. They don't know how small and petty acting we see them.
    The Greatest Story Ever Told was a movie made in Hollywood not in congress. Partisan opposition grandstanding is no longer in vogue.
    The pittance they are offering now just shows just how small they look in the eyes of the great majority of Americans.
    Creating wealth is alright but not on the backs of the people they serve.
    I expect and demand that congress make us whole again. How dare they offer us eight or nine hundred billion after spending trillions getting us into this mess! We don't need crumbs from their table this time we need the whole loaf.
    Yes I'm delusional but congress has made me this way. All of the Presidents from Johnson thru Bush have done nothing to impress me. In fact they are no Abraham Lincoln. Some have tried to fix their image after leaving office but has done not one damn thing to fix the mess they left in that office. We need a President but I fear Obama will not measure up to the task either but only time will tell.
    I say thanks but no thanks to the turkeys in congress. Take your crumbs and stuff them where the sun does not
    shine. Do you get it? Can you feel it? If not then don't wait until the door hits you on the way out! Hello congress! I'm talking to you. Is there any one in that puzzle place?
    I know you are not offended because you are who you are. There is no good, just the bad the ugly and disgusting.
    Mr. Moyer, let congress chew on this for a while. I like you and the Journal.

    Kudos to the show for finally airing what I have noticed since I have been on my own, as a single mother, struggling to find the "correct" path to middle class opportunity. Following the mythology of the "American Dream" nets nothing for those of us who are traditionally maligned as the enemies of progress.

    It seems my life has been one of complete irony. I left an upper middle class, well educated home after high school to escape horrendous abuse. I met a man and became pregnant. I'll never forget sitting and watching Ronald Reagan, while pregnant and alone, rail on about single mothers being the destruction of American civilization and vowed to marry the man I was with, despite his unsuitability as a supporting father for my child. After ten years of living in poverty due to his ineptitude, I decided to raise my family myself, with little skills because I stayed at home with my children, supposedly, according to the popular American narrative, the noble thing to do.

    How noble my work of raising my children was considered I soon found out as I struggled to live on meager wages, direct sexism against my finding gainful employment in the blue-collar sector ("we/I won't hire a woman for that job") a failed and under-funded child support system that allowed the father run free of responsibility to his children. This drove me to draw back on my upbringing in believing that education was my key out of poverty.

    Once again I was cheated as within one month of enrolling in college and ending my full-time job (no I couldn't do both and expect to gain skills in any reasonable time), to find that the establishment once again was on the attack again women in poverty and I was now again, the scourge of society.

    So deeply ingrained is the narrative of top-down power and blaming the poor in our society that my family would not even help as they believed that I could get myself up and going on my own.

    I became an activist while also going to school fulltime to study journalism. How quickly I discovered that my story or the story of millions of women locked out of opportunity by institutionalized sexism, scapegoating and classism! Protest I held with other activists across the country again welfare "deform" went largely unreported. Our stories were misrepresented and twisted to fit into the social construct the writers wished to believe and tell.

    And here I am again, having started my own business during the construction boom, finding that not only my story, but the story of millions of struggling Americans is of no importance to the press.

    I notice that there exists a constant chatter about the effectiveness of FDR's programs during the depression. One story that is consistently not told or apparently not understood is that FDR kept millions of people from starving to death. He kept millions of people working, fed, clothed and housed.

    But such a story is of little relevance to the press, who live in the wealthiest district in the nation, draw outrageously high salaries and spend their entire careers attempting to prove how they are in with the pulse of the powerful.

    I have been a fan of blogs for quite awhile and fight tooth and nail every month to make sure I can pay my cable bill in to keep having internet service. I could give a rat's fart about network news and am disgusted everytime I see the endless blather and blame.

    When will Amy Goodman and others receive a voice in the maintream media? I say never.

    Having lived for years now among the disenfranchised and the impoverished I can tell you with confidence that they neither fully understand the depth of the depravity of this system we call a democracy nor do they want to believe just how completely they are lied to everyday by the press that they wish to believe really tells them the inside scoop.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    The inside scoop is outside, on mainstreet, waiting to be told by the people who live it.


    The problem is, if everyone talks at once, can anyone listen?
    I blog and post all the time - and have specific, new, ideas on how to effectuate real change. I don't think anyone in power ever hears me - or the millions of other single voices shouting in the electronic cacophony. Have you heard this?
    How about my answer to the Afghanistan problem from a previous show? Maybe all that rises from the din is the indistinct voice of the muddled middle. It seems all that comes through clearly is that the people want CHANGE.
    Here is my idea again:

    Ending the war in Afghanistan on our own terms

    The recent surge in poppy production has to be dealt with in new and novel ways that play to our strengths and not to the Taliban’s.

    As NATO contemplates a renewed attack on the embedded Taliban - a surge which has already cost hundreds of innocent Afghan lives as well as those of our own troops - it's worth asking if there is not another way; another way to curb the Taliban influence that does not involve killing people.

    History is helpful. In the 1970s, Turkey was the largest supplier of heroin in the world. Then the United States got smart and started buying the poppy crop - we still do. The government sold it to U.S. pharmaceutical firms to make legitimate drugs – after all, there are no bad plants, only bad uses for plants. The drug cartel lost control of Turkey and today Turkey is one of our staunchest allies in the Middle East. We later tried a similar approach in India with good results.

    From the CIA world fact site we know that the GDP of Afghanistan in 2006 was something under $40 billion. Today, over half the GDP of Afghanistan is tied up in poppy production in some way, and is controlled by rogue warlords who channel profits directly to the Taliban – some $100 million a year. This is an extremely lucrative business and there is nothing even remotely comparable in that region of the world. Sixty percent of Taliban income comes directly from poppy production.

    On the other hand, growing food is either uneconomic for the average afghan farmer, or is outright forbidden – at the point of a gun - by the Taliban militia who control the rural regions.

    Instead of fighting the Afghan farmer, who is caught in an impossible position, we should buy the crop - all of it – from him. This would:
    A. End 60% of Taliban income immediately.
    B. Put us on the side of the Afghan farmer instead of making us just one of his several enemies. Hearts and minds...
    C. Put a serious dent in the heroin trade - a concern also for Russia and Europe, who blame us for the escalation of their drug problem.
    D. Allow us to influence the Afghanistan people by becoming their respectful partner instead of their bullying enemy (there is something extremely unseemly about a country of our size, might, and moral stature, going around burning fields and dropping bombs on subsistence farmers in a desperately poor country. Obama may recognize this intuitively, but mollifying words have to be backed up with concrete action).

    Eventually, we need to encourage Afghans to grow food instead of Poppy plants. We should pay a 10% premium over the market price for poppy, for food staples. By finally establishing a middle class of farmers, shopkeepers, and other distributors, supported by microloans, we would cut the Taliban off at the knees. And by supplying a profit motive, the new middle class would be encouraged to form militias or to finally build up the Afghan army to protect themselves against the Taliban – who, despite popular perception, are largely loathed by the average Afghan citizen. As President Obama has publicly stated, you build a Democracy from the bottom up, not from the top down. We have a chance to do this in a way that is cheaper, far less violent, and far more effective than the shoot and burn approach we've tried thus far.

    There are other answers to the Afghan situation, if people are willing to examine history and to break out of idealogical molds. We need to play to our strengths, not to the Taliban’s. In a game of attrition, history shows that those who try to forcefully bend Afghanistan to their will, eventually lose.

    It's a weight off my chest to listen to this discussion. You gentlemen are a credit to your profession. You cut through the fog of Washington media claptrap. If the regular Washington press corp is worried about staying relevant in a new age of politics, they need just follow your lead.

    Your insights are spot on. You guys make me 'feel the lack' of real discussion in the rest of media and I praise you for it.

    I'm perhaps being too praising of you guys, but I really do appreciate it.

    Last night's show was terrific, including Bill's thoughtful and needed commentary at the finish. Thank you, thank you Mr. Rosen and Mr. Greenwald for your insight and courage. Bill, I don't know where we'd be without you.

    Thank you Mr. Moyers.
    As others have illustrated, your program is a welcome beacon of truth and sanity.

    I don't know that this was mentioned, but media consolidation plays a role in this as well. Corporations own these networks. What political party may (sometimes) be seen as unfavorable in the eyes of corporate CEO's? It surely isn't the Republicans, who easily make it on the networks to lie with impunity.

    I loved Glenn's repeated derogatory use of the word "serious", which was a dogwhistle to those of us "unserious" lefty bloggers. The establishment functions in a bubble, and the "unserious," "whack-job" Amy Goodman's of the world would absolutely crush it.

    How can we crush their bubble? Can you get ahold of President Obama's email list and fire-up the masses to revolt against this obfuscating, sensationalist garbage we call the MSM?
    If nothing else, we could stop buying from General Electric as a means of protest. As the champions of our economic failure have so eloquently spewed, "Let the market speak!"

    I enjoyed the show last night and was relieved to hear someone in the media talking critically about the media. This "narrative" as Moyers, Greenwald and Rosen called it, of power has gone on for many, many years. Having been an activist I experienced first hand how our press decides for themselves what news is fit for the public to hear.

    Most disturbing though and mentioned by both guests is that the majority of the population has come to blithely accept the MSM's narrative as the truth and to accept their role as receiver of information and not as the actor on information.

    The deliberate black-out of truthful or relevant analysis (I remember during the debates Charlie Gibson thought it so important to distinguish what the ceiling was for "wealthy" for purposes of determining who the privileged really are in a discussion about taxation. It was quite apparent that Mr. Gibson felt a bit of discomfort with the notion that the wealthy like himself might be regarded unfavorably in the public eye -- best squash that bird before she flies.

    I am one of the many invisibles who lives in the shadows of this country's wealth. I am not so eager to accept the crap that is foisted at me daily, the lies that I am supposed to accept that the press wishes to repeat for the service of their overlords -- that the poor are to blame for every and any moral and economic sin created in this country.

    Unfortunately, many people I know who have grown up in poverty or near-poverty have accepted this narrative as the truth so long ago and have so little access to other viewpoints that they just retreat silently and hope that one day they'll be redeemed by a lottery ticket or maybe a bad back (disability check) which will at least get them out of struggling day and night for nothing.

    Our country is heading toward all-out fascism. Poor women were recently thrown under the bus (again), next I imagine will be immigrants. The Republicans and the press have already been swiping at blue collar union workers.

    Pretty soon we'll find our internet controlled and regulated and the only jobs open will pathetically low paying self employment or working as fearful drone in a corporate cubicle. Professional jobs will become the domain of the elite (as they are nearly the domain now of the financially fortunate) as student loans are discarded. People will find themselves heaped with debt just to keep up the lifestyles they are told they must have and they all will not move to revolution.

    As long as the Republicans and the press don't get incredibly stupid and allow people to starve. Then there will be foment.

    Which brings to mind the other elephant in the room that the press will not report on -- with all the discussion about FDR's handling of the Depression not one soul brings up the severe fatal poverty and the rustling and stirring of revolution, which this country has felt more than once.

    As Walter Lippmann said, "the news and the truth are not the same thing." A change in the MSM will come when these institutions lose their power to persuade and placate "the hearts and minds" of the people. At that time, the MSM will be like an advertiser producing commercials that no longer draws an audience. The Powers-That-Be will likely then try to replace the institutional function of the press with some other strategy, or modify the media in some way to accommodate the new circumstances. While this may sound paranoid, it is really only the logical extension of what is already happening. The media's institutional function is to sell an audience, the public, to private, elite sponsors. The industry jargon is "selling eyeballs." This is seldom understood: in the construction of the media, the public is a product whose attention and opinion can be sold to corporate and political America for their mutual advantage. The networks must have known what they were doing when they excluded first Ralph Nader and later Dennis Kucinich from the presidential debates, despite the fact that the candidates met the criteria for inclusion. Just as MSNBC knew what it was doing when it fired Phil Donahue, falsely saying it had nothing to do with his ideology. When such discreet, calculated events as the debates presented by the MSM lose their desired influence over public opinion, then the MSM will have lost its power. When the public turns to alternative sources for information, the MSM becomes impotent. When the networks talk about the race between a Democrat and a Republican, but so few listen that an independent wins, then Democracy will be a step closer.
    The question posed here is, "what role can journalists play to promote democracy?" If they are willing to risk their livelihood, they can give allegiance to the truth rather than to news, to accuracy rather than to access, to broadmindedness rather than to institutional think. And most importantly, they can stop fooling themselves that they can say whatever they want. If they hadn't already demonstrated trustworthiness through the incorporation of the institutional narrative, chances are they wouldn't be holding the job.

    You mentioned Amy Goodman on the show, and both your guests seem familiar with her. I believe she has had you as a guest on "Democracy Now;" why not have her as a guest on your show (scoop "Meet the Press")?

    I've been a reader of Greenwald's blog on for quite some time. I think the perspective offered by Greenwald & Rosen hit the nail on the head with many of us who have grown passionately disheartened and disillusioned with the mainstream press. During the Bush administration, they sat by and did not question the blatant and obvious crimes taking place right under their collective noses. To this very day, David Gregory insists that the right questions were asked and that the media did its job the way it was supposed to.

    It would make no difference to any of them if they were confronted with our anger and frustration. I've had numerous email "conversations" with some mainstream press people and any criticism of them or their tactics are basically ignored or refuted. They don't recognize their failures and more importantly, they don't care.

    I don't know how much more of a wake-up call they need. Readership in newspapers are down. Magazine subscriptions have tanked. Television ratings are down. Network newscasts are just about irrelevant anymore. Cable news shows are tabloid-ish and sensationalistic.

    During this election season, I read many books from reputable authors and I accessed foreign news on the internet. I got better information about what was going on in Iraq from foreign sources than anything I saw here. That is pathetic.

    It may take the American people a little while, but when the day comes that the majority of us have absolutely no use for any mainstream press/media they will get a gigantic reality check. That elitist attitude of theirs will not do them any good when they are waiting in the unemployment lines with the rest of us.

    Brilliant stuff.

    Just when I am about to give up on any hope for this country, Bill Moyers talks with real patriots, Glenn Greenwald and Jay Rosen, who are (WITH Bill Moyers!) the most intelligent and most insightful people that I have ever seen!

    Thank you again, Mr Moyers, for encouraging us to hold on to our sanity -- in the midst of a country whose voters voted 47% FOR the embarrassing McCain/Palin insult to all decency!

    This is one of the better bits of analysis of the MSM that I have ever seen in the establishment press. It could only come from Moyers, who is as good as the mainstream gets, admirable in many ways. Nothing that you wouldn't expect if you understand, "Manufacturing Consent," but so well put!

    I particularly like the explanation of why the MSM is threatened by the Progressive Left (and thus excluded by them), but is not bothered by the Reactionary Right (and thus admitted).

    "JAY ROSEN: If you're a career Washington reporter, how do you know that your knowledge is always going to be relevant throughout your career? Well, if politics is just an inside game, then you're always on top of it. If all of a sudden, a new dynamic enters it, you may not have the knowledge you need to be the expert, to be the authority. And I think there's a tendency for Washington journalists to see everything converging towards the political game that they are themselves masters of.
    BILL MOYERS: We use these term, media and press, pretty generally. I mean, "The Washington Post" is in the media and of the press. You all are in the media and of the press. But so is Rush Limbaugh. I think you wrote on your blog that Dave Brody from the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pat Robertson's outfit, will one Sunday show up on "Meet the Press." But an Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now" will never show up on "Meet the Press." What's behind that phenomenon?
    JAY ROSEN: I think part of the reason is that if Amy Goodman came on "Meet the Press," she would say all sorts of things that not only challenge the people on the program, but challenge what they have been saying over the years. Would go back, in a sense, discredit the narrative that's been building up for a long time. And even though it's maybe not wholly conscious, the idea that there's a kind of building narrative that is more or less accurate, that we kind of tell you what's going on in Washington, is a common assumption in the press. And people who would completely shatter that, don't.
    GLENN GREENWALD: I think that's exactly right. It's all about the content of views. Rush Limbaugh can depict himself as being this insurgent outsider. But he supported the wars of the last eight years. He supported the tax policies that Ronald Reagan essentially instituted as conventional wisdom, that we need to lower taxes, reduce government spending. All of the conventional clichés that the media airs frequently, and doesn't need much time in order to explain, are ones that Rush Limbaugh and the furthest fringes of the right essentially embrace. And so, to include them into our discussion is not very disruptive at all, whereas if you had people on from the left who were advocating things like the United States' responsibility for its unpopularity in the world, the fact that we wage wars and bomb other countries and invade and occupy other countries far more than any nation on the planet. To include somebody like that would not only threaten the vested interests of everybody who's participating in these conversations, it would disrupt the entire narrative, as Jay said it would. Almost sound foreign, as though these views are un-serious views, don't belong in mainstream, serious shows. Because these views are never heard. They're stigmatized, they're demonized as being things that don't really deserve a platform. And so, you can't include advocates of these views in these shows."

    This analysis shoots down the notion of moderation, as established by the MSM. A moderate is supposedly one who stands between the Left and the Right, but since the Progressive Left is excluded from consideration, the spectrum of the debate is shifted, by design, to the Right. If we included the Progressive Left in the debate (and I'm sure we all know of occasions where we have discussed politics without acknowledging this range of opinion, not because it is illogical or impractical, but because it is ostracized by the mainstream), then suddenly liberalisms occupies the center of the debate. Imagine a world where Ted Kennedy is acknowledged as the "safe" moderate, which in many ways, he really is.

    Ani Difranco once talked about Dennis Kucinich as an "electable" candidate, center in the general range of political opinions.

    But as Greenwald says, such a perspective runs counter to the narrative of the press-- the prevailing orthodoxy, if you will-- the mythology of the established, professional order, the political class, central to the justification for their enrichment and status. It becomes a kind of heresy to contradict it. The narrative becomes something that we don't challenge, just as as we don't yell out against a sermon in a church (unless we are a George Fox). Even the working class, which has no real support or place to voice their views, has no choice but to use the mythology of the elite. To many it leaves such a bad taste in their mouthes that they avoid the political process. They have no "win."

    But ironically, even the notion of Left and Right is in some ways a distraction. The real points of political contention center around where the established economic-political order is threatened, and in what way. Mostly, it is the true Left (Amy Goodman) that threatens the elite, and not the Right (Rush Limbaugh), so the Left is excluded. So much for a "left-wing" press.

    A majority of americans wanted change,President obama wanted change.The republicans did not want real change.they only wanted to change the faces from bush and chaney to mcain and palin.bush became an embarrassment to them as the rest of america figured him out, the party insiders never liked him to begin with. the republicans wanted the message and policies to stay the same from bush to mcain .they wanted continuation. they never wanted bipartisanship they proved it by their actions for the last couple of decades. So Pres. obama won and now he thinks that the republicans will now embrace the change that they never wanted. The president will have a hard time with some in his own party who are angry at being pushed down for the last 8 years by the republicans. it is up to us to help support pres. obama with attempting change and not to be sucked in by the people who are very against change, the media, the republicans and some democrats. it is we the people that have to be strong, if we really want change.

    Are the print media dying?

    The problem is not so much the death of print newspapers, as long as there are online substitutes that can provide the same information. The two main problems are (1) not everyone is online yet; and (2) the free online journals can't afford the costs of doing serious investigations or supporting distant on-site operations.

    However, most of the print newspapers have been failing for some time to investigate and report on things their readers want to know about. Especially official corruption, or anything out of the box of their herd mentality. See blog post on this. The independent online journalists have been doing a better job of satisfying that demand, and that more than anything else is what is killing the print journals.

    The question is where is the money going to come from to fund independent investigatory reporting, and how is it going to be able to withstand the threats of lawsuits to suppress it. I foresee the emergence of ad hoc investigatory funds to which people donate to support. The trick is to make a credible appeal before the investigation is complete, and to avoid alerting the targets of the investigation.

    The test I like to use for whether a journal has investigative integrity is whether it is willing to criticize judges. If it does that, I'll give some credence to the rest of what it writes. If it doesn't, then I won't.

    Humans are herd animals. They try to figure out where their herd is going and then position themselves somewhere in the middle for safety. Leaders seem charismatic only as long as they don't look too much like us, so, unable to agree on a leader from among the herd, people adopt the herd itself as its leader. However, there is no wisdom in numbers. Whenever too many people agree too easily they are probably wrong. The so-called "wisdom of crowds" only appears for specialized questions in selected situations.

    The challenge for everyone is to learn how to perceive what herds we have become a part of and to overcome the bounds of herd mentality. "Thinking outside the box" needs to be come not just a slogan but a habit -- and not just another orthodoxy.

    Jay Rosen and Glenn Greenwald have become involved in their own orthodoxies in focusing on Washington, DC, and the mainstream media. Herd thinking is not just a problem in those areas, but in every level and branch of government, every profession and organization, every religion or school of thought. We have seen it within financial institutions and how it yielded the meltdown. It is especially dangerous in legal practice and the legal profession, where demands for strict constitutional compliance are dismissed out of hand as unrealistic or unworthy of acknowledgment.

    It doesn't work to demand of those who are captured by the herd to break out of it and make needed change. We have to open it to disruptive outsiders. The Internet has enabled outsiders to become publishers, journalists, and lobbyists, but we still need to enable outsider intervention in administrative and judicial processes, public and private. The established institutions for that are the trial jury and the grand jury, but we have allowed judicial practice to disable their effectiveness. We will not reform those processes until we enable trial juries to review the legal decisions of the bench by hearing all arguments of law, and enable grand juries to hear complaints from any citizen, investigate any public or private institution or practice, and report on its findings, perhaps with an indictment authorizing a private citizen to prosecute. Citizens must not be denied standing to privately prosecute public rights, or to issue writs of quo warranto to challenge the authority of officials, public or private, to do what they propose to do. The presumption of nonauthority needs to be established as the bedrock of our institutions.

    " Is the establishment press an impediment to or an agent for bringing change to Washington?"

    Yes. If any reporter, journalist is focussed on such a small and incestuous world as DC, and on top of that is also focussed on his "career", he/she has become an impediment to change in Washington, and is not a credit to the field of journalism/news reporting.

    "What role should journalists play in our democracy?"

    There is a reason why newspapers and canned tv news programs are languishing and failing. The reason is that they have become empty corporate
    entities. Most citizens in a democracy depend on journalists to make them aware of the state of their democracy, and to sound the alarm when needed. If you look around the US at the many smaller newspapers, their names include
    "The Herald", "The Light", "The Beacon", "The Sun"..... Those names symbolize the role of journalists in democracy.

    Great show with substantive discussion and analysis. I want more. I want to see Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva, Arundhati Roy, David Korten, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Rachel Maddow, Heather Digby Parton, Bob McChesney, Barbara Kingsolver, Wangari Maathai, Helen Caldicott, Medea Benjamin, Sonali Kohaktur, Laura Flanders, Christy Hardin Smith, Jane Hamsher, Ann Wright, Glen Ford, Marjorie Cohn, Cornel West, Daniel Berrigan, Ward Churchill, Eduardo Galeano, Howard Zinn, Cynthia McKinney. Get the picture?

    Please be so bold as to interview Amy Goodman yourself for the Journal. Journalism is sinking. You are helping to keep it afloat.

    Thank you Bill Moyers for having two excellent critics of the mainstream press on last night's show (Feb.6, 2009). I wish they had discussed this issue too: why does most of the press assume it's fine to go into debt for Iraq and Afghanistan but not for the American people and our Recovery, even though it's all our tax money? Who says it's ok to use our tax dollars for stupid wars and not for intelligent spending to help improve our country? Why do Iraq and Afghanistan come first? Where is the press on this? Please devote a show to it. Leslie

    Mr. Greenwald may have shed light on why:

    "Obama no matter what"

    Obama & the DNP denied FL nomination-election votes & the press gave it a pass.

    Senators Kennedy, Kerry, McGovern, Biden, Edwards threw support away from Hillary's health plan. She is out of the senate & Dashal was on Kennedy's horonarium Healthcare Plan & no press noticed.
    "Hillary anybody but"

    Was there a poll to see how many knew the banks would take "Paulson's bailout" money, clean up their balance sheets & only loan to those that did not need the money.

    I knew before the $700 billion became $800+ billion.

    Pres. Obama wanted $500 to 700 billion, so to get the Republicans to go along the amount became $900 billion & the Rep. can say they took $100 billion out BUT once again Congress raised the amount while saying they lowered the ransom.

    Congress forgot the rest of the story.." but not all of the people all of the time!"

    Billy Bob, Florida where Obama & the DNP denied my vote & ya'll did NOT care

    Dear Bill,

    Regarding Mr. Greenwalds' thoughts on congressional influence peddling " is just the way of life."

    I would add: but not always has it been that way.

    "I have the consolation of having added nothing to my private fortune during my public service, and of retiring with hands clean as they are empty." Thomas Jefferson


    Your two guests were insightful but not political scientists who have long studied the subject. In political science those in the press are considered gatekeepers who set the political agenda. They do so by recognizing the established dissenters (the term coined by C. Wright Mills) and, contrariwise, by ignoring dissenters whom they want out of the mainstream, namely the Noam Chomskys and C. Wright Millses. The Bill Moyers Journal is no exception. Last week, one of your guests wrote me that she unconsciously engaged in self-censorship by failing to use the term “war crimes” to describe what she was trying to say. Indeed, neither the Journal nor Charlie Rose have yet to assess the hundreds of war crimes of the Bush administration, some of which have been continued by Obama (notably extraordinary rendition and extrajudicial executions of innocents in military attacks). The inference is that those who appear on the Journal are within the mainstream, brilliant but muddled, and therefore do not jeopardize continuation of the program itself. Meanwhile, the subject of American war crimes is discussed freely and protested openly in Europe and the Middle East.

    The two guests were insightful but not scholars on the subject. In political science, the press are considered gatekeepers who set the political agenda by determining who are the established dissenters (the term used by dissenter C. Wright Mills) and thereby shut out Noam Chomskys and C. Wright Millses. One of your guests last week wrote me that she did not use the applicable term "war crimes" out of unconscious self-censorship. The obvious inference is that even the Bill Moyers Journal selects guests who are safe but somewhat muddled and do not jeopardize continuation of the program itself. An honest Bill Moyers Journal program has yet to treat the vast war crimes of the Bush administration, many of which are being continued by Obama (notably extraordinary rendition and indiscriminate attacks that kill civilians). Whereas some established dissenters call out for prosecution of those who engaged in or approved of torture, the assessment of hundreds of other war crimes has yet to be discussed on either the Journal or by Charlie Rose. Your silence is shameful complicity, an exercise in gatekeeping that keeps out the agenda of stopping war crimes that is ongoing in Europe and the Middle East.

    What Rosen and Greenwald say about the ideological thinking of the press should be applied to American institutions across the board, including education and health care.

    Leadership in these institutions is interested only in preserving their own positions. The fear of losing those positions dictate that these individuals promote policies and methods that serve the status quo, even though many of these individuals may think that their work is not conditioned in such a manner.

    When we talk about education and health care, among other institutions, we need to get quickly to these underlying questions.

    Charlie Rose had Bill Baker on the other night. Baker implicitly had some interesting things to say about the fear that prods leadership into poor managerial behavior.

    Get the press out of DC!

    Where are the stories on the people - nationally and internationally - affected by this economic crisis? That is the real story.

    The media would rather be among the powerful, where the simplest story to cover and amplify is the partisan posturing, than out among the people.

    Who is drawn to work in infotainment? People drawn to power, image, being at the "center" of things? Not real journalists, truthseekers, or muckrackers.

    There are real journalist around, and many make it to Bill Moyers program, but they are not heard or seen elsewhere.

    Get the press out of DC!

    Where are the stories on the people - nationally and internationally - affected by this economic crisis? That is the real story.

    The media would rather be among the powerful, where the simplest story to cover and amplify is the partisan posturing, than out among the people.

    Who is drawn to work in infotainment? People drawn to power, image, being at the "center" of things? Not real journalists, truthseekers, or muckrackers.

    There are real journalist around, and many make it to Bill Moyers program, but they are not heard or seen elsewhere.

    Re: The death of the question

    I listened to your educated and articulate guests only to find my mind wandering to the story of the Gordian Knot. What became of the simple question, asked by a writer or reporter who truly does no know the answer in advance?

    We have all become so clever, so politically astute and fashionable. And while the media has been strutting around its high-tech parlors, the Bush administration ran up one of the most horrendous debts in history, closed the White House door to its citizens, accepted as fact the fear of national collapse of the banking system, failed to provide minimum checks and balances for billions of dollars in bailouts and created a culture where the financial industry was in many frightening ways running the country. All this while the media watched it happen like the proverbial train wreck. They had the best seat in the house.

    Give me a cub reporter named Alexander with honest questions and a delivery as sharp and as determined as a sword and we can cut through the culture speak and intellectualizations that have paralyzed our democracy..and send the polysyllabic boys home.

    To whom it may concern,
    It is weird that I get Email from the Republican Party claiming they are "Fighting Back".
    What is their problem and what can they gain by undermining the will of the people and the efforts of the president to salvage our union. Are they crazy? This is where they live and they have sworn allegiance to this country. The same goes for the so called Christian right and the self-serving press.

    "It is not by spectacular achievements that man can be transformed, but by will."
    Henrik Ibsen

    Obama ran on being bi-partisan, he wanted to be seen as a non-ideologue, he touted that he would bring Republicans into his administration (and has). Why blame the media for applauding when Obama does the very things he said he would?

    Glenn and Jay speak as though Obama is not in control of whom he chooses for his cabinet...that he hasn't selected people who run within the Washington system....that somehow he is a victim of "Washington."

    Obama never said he would fight Republicans tooth and nail for progressive issues. It's not just the media who wants Obama to stay clear of the Left, it may also be Obama himself. For my part, I wanted a fighter...the Right could care less about being bi-partisan and playing nice. I hope our President finds his outrage and voices it more often. It was pleasant to hear today.

    The media(the mass media)is slow to change because the reporters, employed by those right-wing owned corporations-that have complete monopoly in the Western world-are afraid to tell the truth, even when some of these journalists see the travesty that is passed as democracy. They are under scrutiny and anything being reported that does'nt follow the status quo is obviously edited out. There are, i believe, only five huge corporations that decide what is to be read for public consumption and the heads of those companies do NOT want anything to change, period...

    I'm sorry but I believe that civility will not win this war on the average American. As your guests noted, the institutions themselves are broken.

    At some point, civil disobience will break out and eventually become violent. I'm as sure of that as I am that Martin wouldn't have been successful without Malcolm.

    Marching in the streets and some broken Wall Street windows would start the discussion in earnest.

    No, not me. I'm too old. But that will be the only remedy. Wait and see.

    Great show,
    Your guests said Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez would change the game. How can we get them in front?
    Can you help? Can we?
    Laurie & Dave King

    What is sad Jane, is that too many people think that poverty is a lifestyle choice instead of a debilitating condition inflicted on most of us during our childhood. I bet you have never had the chance to eat lead paint chips off the wall of your bedroom because the landlord didn't want to spend the money to remove it. I bet your mother had plenty of protein while she carried you in her womb, and that you mostly had plenty to eat as a child. If I'm wrong about all this then perhaps you have brain damage, and are just lucky and don't know it. Many of our impoverished citizens do rise above these conditions, but it stands to reason that many cannot overcome the impediments imposed by malnutrition, poisoning, and poor educational environments during childhood. Should the government step up and take care of people? What else would we need government for? I think looking out for the interests of those wealthy enough to look after themselves is a poor use for government. Us liberal, progressive, child loving, tree hugging, community activists think that the only legitimate function for government is to serve and protect everyone, not just the rich and well connected. This has nothing to do with our lifestyle choices, as apparently the free market conservatives now need us poor people to bail their rich butts out or the whole thing falls apart. Is that a lifestyle choice? I'd much rather that money went to feeding children and detoxifying their environment, and giving them top notch schools instead of standardized testing mills. Jane, please get out more and talk to some of your neighbors who are working 2 and 3 and 4 part time jobs 60 hours per week with no benefits and no overtime, just trying to feed their kids and keep them safe while every thing they buy costs a fortune and falls apart in 2 years or less, and then tell me what about that is a lifestyle choice.

    I have just sent the president a message to watch this week's show. Would you please send him a copy. He needs to use the power of the people and the internet.
    Great Show!!

    You know as well as I do, as well as Amy Goodman and Howard Zinn knows, that a network owned by General Electric or Westinghouse is not going to even let Amy Goodman in the Newseum as a paying visitor.
    Isn't that rich. The awful truth,unvarnished,no lipstick. Ms. Goodman and her daily show "Democracy Now", flys right in the face of jet engine sales, and the Carlisle Group's bottom line, and because of that, I never miss her show.
    I don't have the luxury of watching your program every week, but I can't remember seeing Ms. Goodman on the Journal, and I can't think of a more opportune time to have her on!
    P.S. Pacifica is conspicuous by it's absence in the Newseum.

    The depth of the problem is greater than the show was able to plumb. The word "liberal" was used as a synonym for "left wing" implying conservative means the same thing as "right wing."

    Not only is there a complete absence of substantive definition in the entire media when it comes to words. This identification of liberalism with socialism and conservatism with capitalism could not be more incorrect!

    The natural and logical economic partner to liberal social values is laissez-faire capitalism. Read your own economist on this: Adam Smith.

    The natural economic partner to conservative social values is socialism. Ask a European. Any one of them with some post secondary education and not too much American television could explain it to you.

    You can certainly be liberal left wing or conservative right wing, but then you need a very balanced, clear private public distinction in the basic structure of your society.

    Here in Canada, our two main political parties split pretty cleanly on social values lines. So our liberal party has both right and left wingers as does our conservative party.

    Your two parties split on obscure personal lines (who likes the pres and who doesn't) so your republicans have both liberals and conservative right wingers and the democrats are a non-ideological rag tag bunch united by personal dislike of republicans. No seems to have noticed the lack of meaning in what they say.

    Bill, what is your definition of liberalism? Check out John Stuart Mill.
    Of right wing or capitalist economics? Check out Adam Smith. Of conservatism? Gerald Cohen. Of left wing or socialist economics, Have Gerry recommend someone.

    Why are communist countries so socially conservative? The USSR, Cuba? How would you explain this phenomenon?

    Please, wake up!
    S. Turner

    There is anger towards the republicans as posted by jenifer because most conservatives believe America is great if citizens are responsible and make good choices. Where as Libs and 99% of the media believes the government owes and should pay for everybody's life-style. That is the difference and that makes you angry?......sad!

    Congratulations,BMJ on your bravery to expose the hypocrisy of the 'national exposers' of the Washington press - and the national press in general! And congratulations to me for watching and writing to you.

    As Marshall McLuhan announced over three decades ago (well before the internet...the NEW medium), "the medium is the message". The empowerment of the individual citizen via the medium of the internet/email is the message of the revolution underway in Washington generally unbeknownst to the vain Washington press and the vested institutions of the federal behemoth supported by tax revenues from the masses. Change is inevitable in Washington because the world is wired now, directly to the root of power. At light speed.
    Thanks again BMJ!

    It was wonderful to see and hear Jay Rosen and Glenn Greenwald tonight, articulating what many ordinary Americans feel about the press. My favorite comment: the press's religion is to be savvy.
    Everything they said is so true. The media must change, or they will disappear. The day I see Glenn or Amy Goodman on Meet the Press, I'll begin to have hope that the press will again fulfill his duty to inform citizens as the First Amendment envisioned.
    And btw - who wrote the synopsis of the show?
    It's a great example of conventional "journalism" standard "balanced" format. And neither Glenn G nor Jay R used any conditionals ("may") in their descriptions of reporters' attitudes. Why is their point of view described that way above?

    There are a lot of stories not told in favor of stories already told ad nauseum. My story is one of them. I'd love to tell it someday someplace other than my blog.

    The success of our political comedians is inversely related to Mr. Obama's success changing Washington. Political humor is funny because it tells the unspoken truth. Long ago TV viewers learned that sometimes Jon Stewart's fake news is the only real news available. If the Washington Insiders change their ways as Bill's guests suggest, then Jon Stewart's show may fade and die.

    Mr. Moyers:

    I remember protesting in the streets of Manhattan before the Iraq War and feeling energized. I also remember turning on the news that night and realizing that we had been largely ignored. It was an eerie, twilight-zone moment.

    How many times have I said "Thank God for Bill Moyers".
    And for tonight's guests and all the wise voices of the internet. Obama wouldn't have gotten elected without the grassroots and the internet. And he also will not, or cannot, move off of the center(the center that is not the center)until "we" pull from in front and push from behind. And, like FDR, he is, I think, saying
    "make me do it".
    Well, there you have it.
    I would love to see
    Nicholas Nassem Taleb, author of the Black Swan, be on BMJ! an idea totally relevant to our current crisis. Georgeann

    The problem with most media is that they are more interested in discussing personalities than issues.

    Gossip and opinionating are more important than substance.

    It is time to make changes in Washington and that means changing the way communication happens. We have to STOP dividing ourselves into ideologies and start really focusing on how to make our planet -our world a safe and healthy place for all people to live and flourish. I may be naive but I continue to believe that our world can actually improve. I believe that we do need an outside push and I believe we have it. The changes that are happening to our climate really MUST push us to become more collaborative and less divisive.

    By being on the Moyer's Journal these guests are defining themselves as left of mainstream and loving it as they market themselves and exist only in that context. If they ever received large general exposure of their views there would be of little interest to the majority of americans.

    While I don't disagree with anything these two gentlemen said, I do think this segment fell far below the usual for this program.

    Your guests tonight nailed my issues with the 'press' in the US. Mr. Greenwald eloquently sums up why I find so much news coverage highly offensive. There is a PBS 'panel-of-mainstream-journalists' show that comes on right after Bill Moyers' Journal that bothers me for all the reasons Mr. Greenwald expressed. I look forward to watching BMJ every Friday evening and rush home to catch it (or barring that, stay up late to catch the late run) and I when I make the mistake of leaving the TV on after BMJ is over, and watch some of this panel show, I tend to feel like I have wallowed in something disgusting while listening to a panel of self important narcissists say absolutely nothing of value. I am so grateful to Bill Moyers for having such a great show, with real, thinking, sane, people who have interesting things to say and who are not afraid to raise the real issues before us as a country. Real journalism is alive and well on Bill Moyers Journal tonight!

    We love to draw sweeping conclusions early in the game. I am presently reading Steinbeck's In Dubious Battle.It is my oldest son's favorite Steinbeck and I read Obama's also. Listening to Jay and Glenn my mind often wandered to the text. I think our President would have been most engaging in tonight's conversation. A well read man in the White House gives me a new confidence.


    Fantastic show tonight! May it inspire tens of thousands of citizens to continue the dialogue that inspired the grassroots movement prior to the election.

    Mr. Moyers
    I am part of the so-called grass roots Internet organization that got Pres. Obama elected. We campaigned for him, and communicated with him through the Internet. We CONTINUE emailing the President every day, and thousands of us meet once a week or so, across the USA, and send our ideas and results to what formerly was the transition team, and now the WH. You should really check it out, on whitehouse. gov
    Yes, the media is also slow to change, and how to report on the new administration. I am a former newsprint reporter.

    Listening to Jay Rosen and Glenn Greenwald, I am reminded of two (or three) people in particular -- philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn (and paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould), and economist John Kenneth Galbraith.

    Kuhn and Gould, in different ways, both advocated a notion of revolution -- revolution in scientific thought and revolution, or punctuated equilibrium, in biology. Things tend to be quite stable until various forces bring about upheaval.

    Galbraith, if I remember right, coined the term "conventional wisdom". (And number four: Noam Chomsky and the notion of "manufactured consent".)

    The question is whether we have come to a time when the arbiters and enforcers or 'conventional wisdom' and 'equilibrium' are due for an overthrow.

    It's been a very long time since there was real social upheaval in the US. The civil rights era was close, but nothing like the post-war upheavals in Europe.

    If Obama's liberal critics like Sean Wilentz are right, Obama is nothing but an opportunist who will do little to unsettle things (and his economic appointees certainly support this claim). But Obama and the New York Times et al. may have no choice. If the liberal critics I have in mind are right are genuinely _incapable_ of conceiving approaches that might address the current crisis. To be unkind: Their minds are too small (their imagination to limited).

    An open question is whether Americans can break the authority-driven culture of contentment.

    I don't think anyone realizes the degree of anger towards the Republicans in this country. The President is far more interested in bi-partisanship than the rest of us. We feel that we have won and we should have our way now and the Republicans can either get on board or shut up.

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