Dormant policy wonk

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March 12, 2009 by 8junebugs

Are you wondering why I haven’t bitched or moaned about politics lately, or commented on the stimulus package or TARP or earmarks? Because I do realize there’s a shocking lack of political content on here this year. It’s for the best reason ever, though:

President Obama and the good folks of MSNBC are doing a fantastic job of calling bullshit for me.

I cackle gleefully while watching press conferences. I applaud the president for his courage and perseverance in the face of a fawning majority and a flailing minority. I actually do think the steps he’s taking are the right ones. They may not be the only right ones, but they are logical and well-reasoned and supported by experts with nothing to gain from their implementation.

And I have yet to come up with any complaints about the right or the left that don’t eventually get air time from Rachel Maddow (my big phat girl-crush), Keith Olbermann (my tv boyfriend), and, less exuberantly, Chris Matthews (for U.S. Senate!?) and Joe Scarborough (played by Chandler Bing). David Shuster is the heir-apparent, but I like a little more sarcasm with my news.

I don’t watch David Gregory, even though he’s a fellow Eagle. I’m not a fan, and I am content to mourn Meet the Press along with its sorely missed late host. And I’ve strayed, perhaps permanently, away from CNN.

 The era of objectivity in journalism is fading away — in a world where D.L. Hughley has a news-based show on CNN, I don’t know where we’ll find another Jennings. Those guys — Jennings, Brokaw, and Rather — came up through the ranks and earned the anchor chairs with blood, sweat, and lack of tears. Now…well, now anchors are celebrities, not reporters. If they’ve covered a war, they were embedded. If they’ve covered a tragedy, they’ve likely inserted themselves in the story.

I saw this while still in school, studying journalism and watching reporters cope with 9/11. There was no way to report on the attacks, especially around here, without showing emotion. Once viewers accepted that, even rewarded it, objectivity in reporting became less critical. Add to that the relationship the Bush Administration had with the press, and you get weak or biased reporting as the norm. The “with us or against us” mentality did nothing for the Fourth Estate.

And then there’s the 24-hour news cycle that the old-time anchors didn’t have to feed. I’m often torn between my nurtured need to Know Everything Right Away and the soothing monotony of the nightly network news.

I find that I’m hopeful, as the new administration takes hold and the face and flavor of journalism is shifting again. I’m hopeful when I see a president take the hit for a bad appointment decision…when I see him say, “my bad,” apologize, and move on. I’m hopeful when I watch Maddow alternately question the ever-loving sanity of entrenched Republican diehards and have a thoughtful, respectful conversation with Megan McCain. And I remain hopeful — more hopeful than skeptical — about our chance for recovery at home and abroad.

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