26 January, 2009

Can Obama Save Journalism?

Maybe if he follows Kevin Drum's excellent advice:

Gossip and chatter have always been part of politics, of course, but over the past decade or two, at the same time that gossip has practically taken over political journalism, it's gotten so inane that it's hard to tell where Access Hollywood ends and Hardball begins. It's nearly impossible to turn on a talk show on any of the cable nets these days and hear anything that's even remotely enlightening.

And I'll bet McQuaid is right: it probably bugs the hell out of a guy like Obama who takes politics and policy seriously. When he said in his inaugural address that "the time has come to set aside childish things," I wouldn't be surprised if he was addressing the media directly.

So how does he work to change things? McQuaid warns that tightly controlling media access the way George Bush did isn't the answer, and I agree. Instead, I'd say that he should send a consistent message about the value of serious journalism by providing the best access to the most serious journalists. Not the ones who are the most famous, or have the biggest audiences, or who agree with him the most often, but the ones who have written or aired the sharpest, liveliest, most substantive, most penetrating critiques of what he and his administration are doing. He should spar with them, he should engage with them, he should take their ideas seriously. Eventually, others will start to get the message: if you want to get presidential attention, you need to say something smart. It's too late to for this to have any effect on media buffoons like Maureen Dowd or Chris Matthews, but you never know. It might encourage a few of the others to grow up. It's worth a try, anyway.

At this point, anything would. There's a damned good reason I rarely turn on the teevee or crack open a magazine - the flood of inanity that pours out is enough to drown a stronger swimmer than I.

Dday has the rundown of the Sunday morning talk shows. T'ain't pretty:
The Sunday talk shows were filled with conservatives (it really is a new era on Sunday mornings, isn't it?) trashing the Obama recovery plan and demanding more concessions in exchange for their votes, despite the fact that they have almost no leverage in the Congress.
You know what? I need a drink. I'll even take one of those fake margaritas at this point. I just hope to hell that Obama takes Kevin's advice. It would be a simple way to try to coax a smidgen of actual journalism out of these assclowns.

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