The Ides of March are upon us, literally. The 15th of March, the day
immortalized by Shakespeare's chronicling of the assassination of
Julius Caesar, was also the day when debts were to be settled. But it
is also the midpoint of what may seem an amazing month in world
affairs. This March, democracy is marching in the Middle East. Or at
least so it would seem. With the predictable cries of premature victory
sounding and resounding from the self-professed right, open-minded
pundits and analysts are asking: What if Bush was right all along?
Despite Iraq's fate being yet to be determined, the mainstream media
has fallen in line with the current conservative mantra: democracy
really is on the march. Looking at the events in Lebanon,
looking at advancements in the peace process, and flush with the joy of
new elections, the news media have fallen hook, line, and sinker for
the eastward-ho expansion of the democratic frontier. Even Bill Maher,
who was enormously critical of the Bush administration's war plans, has
taken his cue from Fareed Zakaria's recent piece in Newsweek and now believes that democracy has come tap-tap-tapping at the Middle East's chamber doors.
I don't want to challenge the facts behind this narrative but rather the logic of the narrative itself. Read More here
from LEAH at CORRENTE:A new blog "Coalition for Darfur" is not content to let any of us just sit and watch. Here's how the two founders of the blog explain its purpose:
A Southern conservative and a Northern liberal have teamed up to raise awareness about the genocide in Darfur, Sudan and money for a worthy organization doing vital work there: Save the Children.
Drawn together by their love/hate relationship with federal judicial nominee William Pryor (Feddie of Southern Appeal loves him, Eugene Oregon of Demagogue hates him) the two have found common ground on the issue of Sudan.
For nearly two years, the government of Sudan and Arab militias known as the Janjaweed have rampaged through Darfur, raping women, killing thousands, destroying hundreds of villages as well as the agricultural economy and displacing more than 2 million people. Hundreds of thousands of people are in dire need of food, shelter, and medical care, but a lack of security is making it nearly impossible for international organizations to reach those most in need.
In addition to raising money for "Save The Children" it is the purpose of the Coalition to try and harness both political halves of the blogisphere to keep the reality of what is happening to the people of Darfur front and center in the conscience of all of us, to focus on the needs of the refugees, and to keep that focus until that hard political work is done that will allow to return to their homes and reclaim their land.
Corrente is priviledged to be part of the coalition. At least once a week we will be offering either a link to or publishing at Corrente a post from the Coalition For Darfur website, and we'll soon be adding a link to the blog in our sidebar. For now, you can find the blog by clicking here, and this week's post by clicking here.
Jay Rosen at Press Think is not part of the Damned Media. Jay Rosen is part of the solution that will wash away the stain the Damned Media has left upon our democratic form of government. As much as anyone I've seen, Jay Rosen is a must read for how we got into the mess we are in today. Should be read by anyone who cares about anything that matters.
Just how staggeringly empty the (White House) beat has been during the Bush era came through in an online chat with Dan Froomkin, White House Briefing columnist for the Washintgton Post. A Post reader said: "I'm interested in the current administration's diversionary phrases, in talking with the press," as in, "our views...are very well known."
Dan Froomkin: Those aren't diversionary phrases. Those are the meaningless words padding the diversionary phrases that punctuate the hoary soundbytes from the approved phrasebook that obfuscate the lack of any substantial response to our questions.
For an example, click here and scroll down to See What You've Been Missing. Froomkin agrees with Lovelady on the pointlessness of sticking around for endless repetition of a "line."
What the press corps needs to do -- and I am wracking my brain on some way to usefully add to the current raging discourse on this very issue -- is dramatically change the current paradigm, which they have tacitly accepted, and which is that they don't get answers -- from Scott, or anyone else in the White House.
One possible solution, which I have repeatedly suggested, is that when they don't get answers, they should report that they didn't get answers.
Good idea. And now we see the significance of this episode during the election campaign, and also what was made of it in the ongoing campaign to discredit the press. Call it a marker, showing what to expect if Froomkin's "possible solution" (a pretty modest step) were ever followed.
He says he is thinking ("wracking" his mind) about what would bring a more dramatic change to the situation. Suggestion for Dan: A simple first step in changing the world is to re-describe it. A columnist (or blogger) is well suited for that.
Dan Weintraub, the political columnist (and blogger) who writes California Insider for the Sacramento Bee, has one way of changing the dynamic. He explained it in the same comment thread a few days ago.
I think the alternative would be an aggressive, curious and analytical press corps, based anywhere (including cyberspace), fact-checking the snot out of the White House and writing critically about the president's statements, proposals and actions, and those of his administration, in both daily coverage and investigative reporting.
In place of a White House presence, Weintraub recommends a simple procedure to ensure fairness, and a voice for the Administration if it chooses that option. "For each story, reporters might place one call to the press office if they chose, explaining what they were inquiring about, and then move on," he said. If the White House does not comment, "so be it."
I like this idea. It has simplicity on its side. When being inside gets you nowhere, you have nothing to lose by developing a more "outside" approach to the beat. If the White House is thinking post-press, (a description I believe accurate) then the press room becomes a space the Administration has already vacated. And that is the sound you hear when Scott McClellan steps to the podium. Instead of venting about the awfulness of the briefing, recognize that the decision to empty it out was made a while ago. Bush already left the marriage.