'It's Like We're on the Other Side of the Moon,' Says NYU's Jay Rosen...
By Brad Friedman on 8/9/2008, 5:39pm PT  

The corporate media still just don't get it. The topic came up at the end of an interesting discussion on Salon Radio Friday between Salon's Glenn Greenwald and NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen.

At the end of their conversation about ABC News' appalling inability to either retract their false 2001 stories tying the anthrax attacks to Iraq (at a very crucial moment, during this country's build-up to war there), Rosen, who picked up on Greenwald's call for accountability there, notes the media's reluctance, particularly the networks', but all of them, to examine their horrible performance prior to the war, and in the subsequent seven years since.

Those failures, the corporate media seem to argue, are all "ancient history" now.

"Because in the minds of most of the people who work in big league journalism in New York and Washington," Rosen explains, "they have done this to death. And they're way past the point of examining their own performance in the run-up to the war."

"From my point of view," he adds, "they haven't even started."

"The watchdog press died under Bush," Rosen charges. "We may have a watchdog press again some day, it could be reborn. But it died."

As you may expect, we concur with that assessment. Yet, as bad as things are right now, had it not been for the citizen media of the blogosphere, including folks like Greenwald, we shudder to think how much worse it all might have been. And that's saying quite a bit.

"It's like we're on the other side of the Moon from them on this particular issue," Rosen concludes in regard to his big media colleagues, in a phrase reminiscent of thoughts we've had so often over the last many years. Which of us is/was living on the dark side of that Moon?

The answer seems pretty clear these days, and that's the point at which we pick up their discussion below. It's just the last couple of grafs, but they are well-worth the quick read...

JAY ROSEN: I think in the long run their failure to examine this is going to hurt them. Not only because they could learn some important lessons for the next time a national crisis like this comes around, but they really need to get into what sorts of habits and assumptions and culture permitted the collapse of the watchdog press.

In my own view, the watchdog press died under Bush. We may have a watchdog press again some day, it could be reborn. But it died. And really the only way we're going to know that full story is through some kind of, almost like a media truth and reconciliation commission, which I have no hope for. But without that kind of effort like that, we're simply not going to know, and for the government to have gone through the 9/11 Commission, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee examinations, and a number of other things that Congress has done, none of which are totally adequate, but for the government to have that, and for the news media to have done nothing, is a major mistake for the watchdog press.

GLEN GREENWALD: Absolutely. I mean, what's most discouraging about the prospect of if that will ever happen is if you talk to many establishment journalists, certainly media executives, one could probably say most, they don't even recognize that there's a problem. They think of it as the Judy Miller problem, that if anything is confined to one or two bad apples, and they'll say thing condescendingly like, well of course we could have done things better, we always want to strive for perfection, but on the whole I think we did a good job. So without that recognition that there's a problem even, which is non-existent, that what explains their lack of self-reflection.

JR: That's what I mean. It's like we're on the other side of the Moon from them on this particular issue.

GG: Yeah, both in terms of the premises and the proposed conclusions.

The transcript and audio of the complete interview between Greenwald and Rosen is posted here.

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