Bush and the Press in the Age of Chaos

The media must get tougher—even on itself

We in the news business are part of a real struggle now about what kind of future this nation is to have, about whether we are to descend into toxic partisan warfare and suppression of dissent. We can't shy away from the fight out of fear of being called names, such as unpatriotic. This is no game of beanbag at recess. We have to be adversaries of imperial presidencies—responsible adversaries, loyal adversaries. One of the reasons this nation is in such a fix now is that the mainstream press, Big Media, failed to be sufficiently aggressive or determined at the start in examining this president's rationale and premises for going to war. We have been much too compliant in serving as stenographers to the powerful.

One last thought. My guess is that if the journalism community is to go through a reformation, the energy will have to come from reporters and editors in the newsrooms—not from the corporate proprietors above. However well-intentioned their souls, these proprietors are under pressure to produce a profit. And the overemphasis on profits is one of the forces that has brought us to our present condition.

Research assistance: Cristi Hegranes

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