Re: Has the press become more docile during the Bush administration?

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David S. Broder is best known for the twice-weekly political column he writes for the Washington Post, where he has been on staff since 1966. Before joining the Post, he worked at the New York Times, the Congressional Quarterly,the now-defunct Washington Star and the Bloomington, IL Pantagraph. Broder appears as a frequent pundit on television programs such as Washington Week and Meet the Press. In addition to the Pulitzer, which he received in 1973, Broder was the receipient of the 1990 Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Colby College. He is the author and co-author of six books, most recently The System: The American Way of Politics at the Breaking Point, with Haynes Johnson(1996). Broder taught at Duke University from 1987-88. Since 2001, he has held a tenured professorship at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. After receiving his AB in 1947 and his AM in 1951, both in Political Science, from the University of Chicago, Broder served in the United States Army for two years. Ideas recorded on: 9/13/07
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TRANSCRIPT

That’s a hard one on which to generalize. I think what’s happened is that in the restructuring and economic downsizing of the print side, there’s been simply a reduction of resources on coverage of the White House in particular, the administration in general. And relatively few papers now really have the human resources to go beyond the briefing room and dig into what’s happening behind the scenes. Washington Post is one of them, and I don’t think we’ve backed off at all. But if you’re talking about the press in general, I think there probably has been a loss of energy there – of commitment to it. And obviously at the state level where I do a lot of reporting, in almost every state capital that you visit now people are worried about the reduction in the size of the news bureaus, and the loss of coverage at that level of government. There is no such thing as objectivity if you think of that as being something, as the old phrase used to be, “holding up a mirror to reality”. Because what we do every day in journalism is omit most of the information that we’ve gathered. You go to a hearing, you hear all the testimony as we did with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. You come back with notebooks filled with notes, and you select little bits of it for your story. That implies news judgments, and news judgments imply values. So we are applying our own value system to our work every day. You can hold yourself to some kind of a standard of fairness in doing that. And the best definition I know of “objectivity” has not to do with the product, but with the process of trying to measure what’s happening against the evidence. And that’s something that reporters can do and should do. Recorded on: 9/13/07

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