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September 13, 2005

Sulzberger and Graham are the problem

-- by John Emerson

(The below is an edited version of a comment I made on Brad DeLong.)

What I've repeatedly seen during the long debate about journalism is that journalists think of their failures and crimes as a kind of professionalism which laymen are unable to understand.

Every profession commits its members to resisting client demands when they are in violation of established professional standards. In some cases this means avoiding fraudulent legal practice and voodoo medicine, and in other cases it means a self-interested professional solidarity against the outside world. But elite experts always have a feeling of "us vs. them".

Outsiders believe that "he-said / she-said" impartiality (and stovepiping insider lies) are intolerable corruptions, whereas journalistic insiders believe that these are noble professional standards. They are proud of what they do. To themselves they're no different than academic economists resisting popular opinion and instead insisting on "thinking like an economist".

The reward structure of the profession supports them in their belief. Excessively accurate reporters get fired (Seymour Hersh and Robert Parry being only two of the most distinguished examples) whereas someone like Judith Miller is given full autonomy and blind support in whatever she does.

The people responsible for hiring and promotion are management. The Rev. Moon, Richard Scaife, Rupert Murdoch, Jack Welch, Donald Graham, Arthur Sulzberger, together with a number of nearly-anonymous figures of that type, control the information the American people get, and actively enable the likes of George W. Bush. It's stupid to blame individual reporters and editorialists.

Liberals think that Sulzberger and Graham don't belong on that list, but liberals are wrong. They're like peasants who believe that the Czar is better than his ministers. Sulzberger and Graham have gone over to the dark side.

Liberals can't admit this because they'd have to admit that Chomsky and Nader were right all along, and that the Democrats destroyed themselves by refusing to listen.

Posted by John Emerson at September 13, 2005 6:57 AM

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Comments

Liberals can't admit this because they'd have to admit that Chomsky and Nader were right all along, and that the Democrats destroyed themselves by refusing to listen.

Bingo!

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2005 2:01 PM

So if I agree with what you said, what am I? I've never liked labels because they clump people together in ways that don't reflect reality. Labels can be twisted and overloaded to the point they lose all meaning, and frequently the listener has a different (overlapping) group of people in mind than the speaker. Liberal, Conservative, Left and Right are now just group nouns.

Besides, Nader and Chomsky are right and have been all along. How about Kucinich? Sanders? If Cynthia McKinney is part of the 'loony left,' perhaps I should call myself a Loony Leftist. If these people and others 'like' them belong to a group, what is the noun and can I join?

Posted by: publicdomainprogress [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2005 2:04 PM

To me the split between the mainstream Democrats and the left is what's killing the US. I've been on both sides of the line, but I primarily blame the mainstream Democrats (especially the DLC types). Even now, no one who was actively opposed to Iraq War II can take a leadership position in the Republican Party.

There are also many problems with the left, and I am not at all uncritical of them either.

Posted by: John Emerson [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2005 2:59 PM

John Emerson,

I agree completely with your view of the split in the Democratic Party. I have been straddling the divide between the left and the center since the Carter years; I have always been against the DLC's emergence as a response to Reagan. I will go to my grave believing the party and the country would be better off now if we had nominated Jesse Jackson in 1988. He would have forced issues into the election that the Democratic Party has been hiding from since the breakup of the New Deal coalition.

I do not know what the next move is likely to be. The DLC and the DLC types are still apparently in charge of the party apparatus.

Posted by: James E. Powell [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2005 10:35 PM

BTW, in my above post I meant "Even now, no one who was actively opposed to Iraq War II can take a leadership position in the Democratic Party."

Posted by: John Emerson [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2005 4:15 AM

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