Me with my friends

Me with my friends

Saturday, February 21, 2009's Greg Greenwald on Obamania and now.....

this is a partial reposting from

this was written in and is also about Greg Greenwald's talk on Bill Moyers PBS show about how media operates with political interests
"Indeed, if one reviews most of the political controversies of the last decade, one finds exactly this dynamic: the political and media establishment joining together to deliberately distort American public opinion [snip]

The overarching role of the Beltway journalist is to obscure and distort those widely-held views on the part of the citizenry and thus prevent them from having any impact, protect political power from those beliefs.

What makes this journalistic servitude to the Washington establishment most repellent is that these same pundits generally -- and David Brooks in particular -- endlessly hold themselves out as the Spokespeople of the Ordinary American, even as they work tirelessly to protect the Washington political class from their beliefs, interests and sentiments. That's how people like David Brooks pile media deceit ("we speak for ordinary Americans") on top of political deceit

The most significant fact of American political life is that political journalists (of all people) see their role primarily as defenders of, servants to, spokespeople for the Washington establishment. That's how they obtain all of their rewards and remain relevant. The concept of journalists as watchdogs over political power has been turned completely on its head by power-revering servants

Brooks is about as typical and illustrative as it gets. They benefit substantially from the prevailing rules of political power and, thus, their only concern is to preserve and strengthen it and protect it from the growing dissatisfaction and anger of the peasant class. The more they do that, the more they are rewarded."

"Shrillness" – the first cousin of "Unseriousness" – is the conceptual instrument used to deter and (when that fails) demonize those who view the political and media establishment as corrupt at its core. It's a way of demanding that everyone just calm down, avoid impetuous and inflammatory language, and stop acting as though there's anything seriously wrong with our political and media elites:

But it's not as though there's anything to get excited or angry about

And fine: there are some narrow disagreements among people of good faith and some small problems here and there that require some modifications -- little things like torture, chronic high-level lawbreaking, immunity for the political class (juxtaposed with the sprawling prison industry for ordinary Americans), rampant domestic spying, sky-high walls of government secrecy, full-scale economic meltdown, massive and growing inequities in wealth, endless wars, sleaze and corruption oozing from every Beltway pore, complete media complicity with all of it -- but there's no reason to get all indignant or agitated by it or act as though crimes are being committed or radical changes are needed or anything.


During the 2008 election, Obama co-opted huge portions of the Left and its infrastructure so that their allegiance became devoted to him and not to any ideas. Many online political and "news" outlets -- including some liberal political blogs -- discovered that the most reliable way to massively increase traffic was to capitalize on the pro-Obama fervor by turning themselves into pro-Obama cheerleading squads. Grass-roots activist groups watched their dues-paying membership rolls explode the more they tapped into that same sentiment and turned themselves into Obama-supporting appendages. Even labor unions and long-standing Beltway advocacy groups reaped substantial benefits by identifying themselves as loyal foot soldiers in the Obama movement.

The major problem now is that these entities -- the ones that ought to be applying pressure on Obama from the Left and opposing him when he moves too far Right -- are now completely boxed in. They've lost -- or, more accurately, voluntarily relinquished -- their independence. They know that criticizing -- let alone opposing -- Obama will mean that all those new readers they won last year will leave; that all those new dues-paying members will go join some other, more Obama-supportive organization; that they will prompt intense backlash and anger among the very people -- their members, supporters and readers -- on whom they have come to rely as the source of their support, strength, and numbers.

As a result, there is very little political or media structure to Obama's Left that can or will criticize him, even when he moves far to what the Beltway calls the "center..[snip]

Part of the political shrewdness of Obama has been that he's been able to actually convince huge numbers of liberals that it's a good thing when he ignores and even stomps on their political ideals, that it's something they should celebrate and even be grateful for. Hordes of Obama-loving liberals are still marching around paying homage to the empty mantras of "pragmatism" and "post-partisan harmony" -- the terms used to justify and even glorify Obama's repudiation of their own political values

Political ideas and values that have no meaningful pressure being exerted on their behalf will always be those that are most ignored. That's just the most basic rule of politics.

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