When the press plays dumb about itself

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

It's always rather comical to read political analysis produced by the press and how, almost without exception, the person writing the piece completely ignores whatever role the press has played in shaping the political landscape being dissected.

Newsweek's Michael Hirsh offers up just the latest exaple with his piece, which plugs into the sky-is-falling CW that's been entrenched inside the Beltway for the last 48 hours. It's headlined, "Losing Control: Obama needs to reassert command of the agenda in Washington,"

Like most of the stimulus analysis today, what's actually in the bill and what it might accomplish is mostly ignored by Hirsh, who's more focused on the politics and the optics: Who should be saying this and how that looks. In other words, it's process over substance. But that's hardly new or surprising. It's what the Beltway press corps now does for a living and what it considers to be the greatest issue facing the country. (The press effectively gave up on covering public policy years ago.)

The other entirely predictable part is when claiming Obama has lost ground on the stimulus bill and is losing the public debate--that "the public isn't hearing" important information--Hirsh completely ignores any role the mainstream media have played in that debate. Hersh completely ignores the statistics released last which which showed there were twice as many Republicans invited onto cable TV to 'debate' the bill, as compared to Democrats. He completely ignores the fact that journalists reporting on the stimulus bill continue to tirelessly misinform the public about its content. And how journalists have all but ingested GOP talking points about the bill and practically spit them out as easily as taking a breathe.

Hirsh says the White House is losing the P.R. war on the stimulus bill. And Hersh may be right. But according to Hirsh, the press has played no role in the White House setback. None.

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