April 15, 2008

"The press is a sort of wild animal in our midst — restless, gigantic, always seeking new ways to use its strength."

So wrote Zechariah Chaffee Jr. — quoted last Friday by Chief Justice John Roberts at the opening of the Newseum, a museum dedicated to journalism and the First Amendment. A wild animal in our midst, eh? I hope that doesn't mean you're inclined toward caging and taming.

22 comments:

B said...

As long as the press remains faithful to its mission to report the facts, Roberts continued, "a museum dedicated to journalism will deserve its place here in the heart of our capital city — no matter how much, from time to time, it acts like an animal in our midst."

Journalism has a "mission" to report the facts?

Who told?

Imagine for a moment an America where journalists restrained themselves to only reporting the facts. In fact, imagine that every article described only what was known about any event or thing at a certain moment:
the "what",
"when",
"where",
and "how",
leaving the "why" to a universally recognized comment only in the last paragraph, never the first

Now also imagine that there were no editorials from journalistic outlets.

I know it's hard, but just try and imagine.

Here's the question: if the above were true what kind of America would there be?

A kinder America? A harsher America?

A more politically liberal-leaning America? Or a more conservative America?

A more class-divided America? Or a more class-less America?

rhhardin said...

What makes an animal domesticated is that it makes sense of human activity.

Your wolf may love you but you can't trust him to make judgments about your guests, as Vicki Hearne put it. Even a tame wolf remains wild in that respect.

Your dog takes his cues from you.

Roberts is using wild animal in some other way, say of sensationalism, which is to say making money.

Mr. Forward said...

"...always seeking new ways to use its strength."

More absorbent?

Richard Fagin said...

Wild animals being in places they don't belong, creating clear danger to humans, makes me want to get out the 12 gauge and blast away. Wild animals indeed: restless, gigantic, seeking to squash everything that gets in the way, and quite stupid enough to run into a few of us rednecks who aren't squeamish about self defense. Or maybe they're just like Dracula; I can hold up a crucifix and scare them back into their coffins.

Roger J. said...

The press is actually a jackass--bereft of objectivity and a herd animal who follows the latesst trail of dung. (I apologize for slighting jackasses who are really much smarter than the press).

Quayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quayle said...

I'd be more inclined to use the phrase "barn yard animals in our midst."

I believe the press in America suffers from an over hyped sense of some constitutional role, and an under developed capability to report on the complex stories of our time, all the time being pressured by their capitalist natures to keep feeding the public with sizzle.

Bur right now we get half-baked, half-digested hype-lines that never tell the real story or give a real picture of what is going on. Our public discourse is suffering because the press doesn't really understand anything they report on. We all talk around the real problems, and even if we identify real problems, we all talk around real solutions.

Case in point: to give an accurate report on the mortgage situation, you'd have to understand individually and collectively: mortgages, subprime mortgages, mortgage brokers, investment banks, CDOs (collateralized debt obligations), CDO tranching, CDO rating, rating agencies, monoline insurers, banker's greed and sole focus on the next quarterly bonus, overleveraged banks, massive bank holding of CDOs despite their known overvaluation, stupid bank shareholders that support corporate officers that take excessive risks with the shareholder’s money, the Bush Admin HUD's decision and program to expand home ownership to minorities - how all these actually fit together, and how it caused the massive bank asset write-offs and some foreclosures.

But to tell the story accurately, you’d also have to understand that a lot of people made a an absolute ton of money selling to the banks the over-valued assets that the banks are now writing down, and those people aren’t saying peep on the crises because to them it was pure gravy, and they don’t want to attract attention in the “crisis” to how much money they made from the stupid buyers (mostly the banks and hedge funds.)

Yes for all the complexity of that entire system, and the proportioned liability at each phase, what we get is "Mortgage Crises!" repeated over and over, and you just know that the reporter doesn't have a clue how it all works, or where any of the liability lays. What you get is platitudes, lazy investigation, sloganing, and complete ignorance.

Oh, and you get a pretty face to look at on the screen, or the right to look serious because you carry around and read the New York Times.

Roger J. said...

Quayle mentions the "pretty faces on the screen." Good observation. Cable news has at least brought us the "info babe," with collagen enhanced lips and gloss for days. Perfectly coiffed hair etc. I would much rather look at them than, say, Daniel Schoor, or Walter Chronkite.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

No....The press is more like a herd of 3 year olds. Throwing temper tantrums when they don't get their way. Short attention spans....oooooh look a butterfly. Unable to distinguish fantasy from reality. Unable to connect actions with consequences. Believing that they are the center of the universe and unwilling to take the advice of the adults who were once 3 year old at some time but have grown out of it.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Imagine for a moment an America where journalists restrained themselves to only reporting the facts. ... Now also imagine that there were no editorials from journalistic outlets.

Is that really the danger we face? It seems more that we're drowning in a sea of partisan editorializing based on carefully selected facts.

It's a small step from helping people understand events to helping them agree with the editor's perspective. Whatever happened to straight news reporting?

downtownlad said...

He already has caged and tamed. When colleges tried to express disappointment with the government's anti-gay military policy, they were silenced by the Roberts court.

Balfegor said...

He already has caged and tamed. When colleges tried to express disappointment with the government's anti-gay military policy, they were silenced by the Roberts court.

Hey, when you take Caesar's coin . . .

Nothing stops them from rejecting our tax money, other than their own greed. They valued the money more than their freedom to exclude the military.

The Drill SGT said...

quayle,

excellent description of one of the bubbles and the fraud that drove it.

The other would be at the retail level with home buyers, real estate agents, appraisers, and loan officers that knowingly falsely inflated the value of properties, incomes, assets etc in order to put people into houses that were over priced and with "zero money down".

The theory of the greater fool.

bearbee said...

Don't forget 'no doc' loans.

PatCA said...

Given the public's negative opinion about the media, I wonder if anyone will go to this place.

Pastor_Jeff said...

When colleges tried to express disappointment with the government's anti-gay military policy, they were silenced by the Roberts court.

Bwahahaha! Really? Colleges have no avenues to express disappointment with Congress' DADT law? No classrooms, periodicals, speaking events, or public forums? Colleges aren't allowed free speech?

I think you mean, "Colleges aren't allowed to take federal funds and simultaneously block federal jobs interviewers."

Oh, the humanity!

rhhardin said...

I have no TV, but this page (``MSNBC female anchors'') pretty nicely represents what the news sounds like to me, a radio person.

(TV takes over a room ; radio is willing to admit you're doing something else, like working. Even at its most awful moments, radio leaves you alone.)

hdhouse said...

caging and taming? naw. letting roam free? naw.

he can play in the yard during the day but he simply must come in at night.

blake said...

The DADT thing is just a cover, DTL. They don't care about gays, it's just a convenient excuse to exclude military recruiters. They were trying to do it before, they'll try to do it when DADT falls by the wayside.

blake said...

"The press is a sort of wild animal in our midst — restless, gigantic, always seeking new ways to use its strength."

That's not a wild animal, that's a super-villain.

Trooper York said...

The press is a pack of weasels. No
more and no less. Anything bad that happens to them is good for the rest of us.

Nichevo said...

I notice the word "rabid" has not yet been used. First!!!