Media Matters

In a Rifftides post last week (Other Matters: Freedom of the Prez) the Prez in question referred not to Lester Young but to the Press, i.e. journalists, and to SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists) president Christine Tatum’s blog titled Freedom of the Prez.

Having just seen a repeat of Bill Moyers’ conversation with constitutional scholar Bruce Fein (conservative) and Washington correspondent for The Nation John Nichols (liberal), I thought the blog-post title was well-suited to Prez Bush. Our current president has taken for himself great freedoms — freedom from interference of congress, freedom from the rule of law….freedom to do whatever he pleases.

Opinions of Bush, Cheney, et al not withstanding, Nichols also holds the press responsible:

JOHN NICHOLS: Let me mention the unspoken branch of government, which is the fourth estate: The media. The fact of the matter is the founders anticipated that presidents would overreach. And they anticipated that at times politics would cause Congress to be a weaker player or a dysfunctional player. But they always assumed that the press would alert the people, that the press would tell the people. And the fact of the matter is I think that our media in the last few years has done an absolutely miserable job of highlighting the constitutional issues that are in play. You know, you can’t have torture and extraordinary rendition. You cannot have spying. You cannot have a– lying to Congress. You cannot have what happened to Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, you know?

BILL MOYERS: When she was outed and they tried to punish–

JOHN NICHOLS: Plotted out of the vice-president’s office without question. Notations of the vice-president on news articles saying, “Let’s go get this guy.” Right? You know, you can’t have that and not have a media going and saying to the president at press conferences, you know, “Aren’t– isn’t what you’re doing a violation of the Constitution?” Now, just imagine if the– if the members of the White House Press Corps on a regular basis were saying to Tony Snow, “But hasn’t what the president’s done here violated the Constitution?” The whole national dialogue would shift. And Congress itself would suddenly become a better player. So I’m not absolving Congress. I’m certainly not absolving Bush and Cheney. But I am saying that we have a media problem here as well.

Having watched the program, I realized how little I know about the Constitution, the intentions of those who wrote it, and the predictions they made. I was fascinated by the discussion, and heartened that it took the subject of impeachment out of the realm of Bush bashing, or even partisan politics, and placed it in a solidly historical, impersonal perspective

Read the full transcript of “Impeachment: The Conversation Continues” and then check out the comments sent in by viewers.

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