We know what our journalists believe about the debt crisis. Time for them to man up and own it.
Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press today:
This is not just a Democratic problem or a Republican problem, the whole country was in on this to get us to this stage. Now, we’re in a huge spending binge in this country. Everybody was along for the ride for a long, long time. President Bush started a war on a credit card. It’s been going on for 10 years. We have prescription drug benefits for the seniors that are not paid for. SEC wasn’t looking at what was happening on Wall Street. Democrats were pushing house ownership for people who didn’t really deserve and shouldn’t be buying houses. At the same time, they were not willing to step up on reforming Medicare and on Medicaid and Social Security. The country itself, they were spending money like crazy, and they were—they’d gotten used to having Washington take care of whatever they needed.
This is what the majority of our journalists believe about the debt crisis. It was created by both sides. It will have to be resolved by both sides. The American people are hugely to blame, as well. The division of responsibility is thus miraculously equal: one third to the Democrats, one third to the Republicans, one third to the public.
No distinctions between the parties are tenable. It’s 50-50 all the way down. Symmetrical. Equal and opposite. Neat and clean. Exquisitely balanced. The Overton Window does not exist. Or, if it does exist, both sides are equally successful in extending it.
To the press? Zero responsibility.
This is what a majority of our political journalists believe. Therefore, they should go to war for this interpretation. They should own it. For it is theirs.
They should say it loud and clear: we’ve been paying close attention, and this is what we think! When a guest on one of their programs comes forward with a different view they should say, “I’m sorry, but I disagree with you.” They should try to be convincing. They should try to win.
They should explain to their viewers, readers and listeners why they are so attached to this peculiar–-and unlikely–-interpretation. They should forward to us the facts that support their case. They should become polemicists for their chosen perspective. They should defend it. They should explain it. Because deep down… they believe it.
They should be drawn into arguments about it. They should fight like hell to see that their idiosyncratic and amazingly convenient view–-one third of the responsibility to the Democrats, one third to the Republicans, one third to the public, zero to political journalists–-carries the day. If they dissent from it (this is, after all, the party line in the press…) then they should tell us that, and explain why they dissent.
They should drop the fiction of themselves as chroniclers, referees and interlocutors and get down in the muck with the rest of us. Here’s what we think and goddamnit we think we’re right!
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