Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Follow the Money

Generally speaking, the American press tends to broadly support whatever administration is running the show. Partisan pundits and politicos may grouse that media is "out to get them," but overall, "the media" has the government's back, despite anyone's protestations to the contrary.

And while this might make "the media" (and especially now, "the 'Liberal' media") an easy target for those who feel that they aren't doing a good enough job speaking truth to power, holding people's feet to the fire or whatever other cliché strikes your fancy, in the end, they have limits and they have to work within them.

People in power are like anyone else - they don't like hostile audiences. Journalists who are too hostile are shut out of access, and we, as the public, are too busy scouring the celebrity pages seeking to find out if Kim Kardashian or Princess Kate are pregnant to demand that the political class talk to people who aren't on their "friends" list. Given a choice between doing the job the way the Administration wants it done, or not being able to do it effectively at all, journalists make the decision that pays their bills. Therefore, they have to maintain a certain level of access, and that can mean doing a lot of butt-kissing, no matter how disingenuous it becomes. We can be outraged about that, but unless that outrage comes with a check attached, no one cares. Andrea Seabrook opted out of the system and received plenty of pats on the back, but effectively became a non-entity. (I'll bet, that even if you were a regular NPR listener, you've completely forgotten about her. I won't win that bet every time, but I'll come out well ahead.) As long as that's the fate of those who don't play ball, we should get used to the status quo.

There's a simple reason why few people (and almost no successful ones) make it their business to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." The comfortable pay (much) better.

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