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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Snow job

There's certainly nothing unusual in today's world of revolving door journalism in the decision of Tony Snow to move from "journalist" to political spokesman. Just don't expect a "fair and balanced" pressroom where "we report and you decide."

It's been awhile since a member of the media moved directly from the pressroom peanut gallery to the podium -- Ford spokesman Ron Nessen was the last. It's also instructive that Nessen actually delivered straight news reports rather than commentary and punditry, a Snow vocation since he left the White House of Bush One.

There are certainly a bunch of partisans who moved in the other direction -- Democrats Tim Russert and George Stephanopuolos top that list. And there's something inherently "fair" in a partisan pundit going to work for someone he has supported more times than not.

But the revolving door between journalism and government is spinning madly -- and its bad for both institutions. Journalism has lost its most important claim from years gone by -- an equal opportunity institution that goes after power no matter the party. Today, the dizzying pace of moving between partisan and "journalist" and back -- has robbed the institution of its credibility.

I'd say the same about the damage done to the institution of government but those practitioners only have to look in the mirror.

The Bush administration is cynically betting the media will treat it better because it likes the man behind the microphone better -- that he is one of them. That didn't work for Mike McCurry (who wasn't one of them, except in the minds of Republicans who assume all reporters are Democrats). And it won't work now.

Why? Because the media love controversy and the scent of blood in the water. Just ask Bill Clinton if he thinks the media have a liberal bias. They have a bias toward controversy and weakness, something this administration exudes from every pore.

We're in for some stormy weather.


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