Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Do Journalists Know Their Roles?

White House spokesman Tony Snow and a bunch of White House reporters just had a roundtable discussion in which they diss bloggers, presumably because those bloggers and their pesky opinions give the White House press briefings so much scrutiny and that never used to happen in the old days when a citizen knew his place.

Check out this gem from Newsweek's Richard Wolffe: “[Bloggers] want us to play a role that isn’t really our role. Our role is to ask questions and get information. … It’s not a chance for the opposition to take on the government and grill them to a point where they throw their hands up and surrender.”

Uh, wrong, Wolffey.

Your role is to ask questions and to get true, coherent information, in its full context. If it were just as easy as asking questions, we wouldn't need a press. But since the government lies to us (and because businesses lie and sports teams lie and publicists for celebrities lie) we need a press that's willing to get into a dragout fight to get to the bottom of whatever's being reported.

Covering the White House is a political job. Just admit that. That doesn't mean it's a partisan job. But, the reason we have a constitution that makes the press free is that the founders knew that the press would have a political role to play. The press is supposed to keep the government honest. Your relationship with Tony Snow should probably be so uncomfortable that you wouldn't want to spend an afternoon complaining about blogs with him.


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