Shoddy Journalism

In his PressThink blog, Jay Rosen, Journalism Professor at NYU recently posted “Why the Internet Weakens the Authority of the Press.”  He begins by referencing the 1986 book The Uncensored War by press scholar Daniel C.Hallin.  In the book Hallin articulates an elegant model that explains why journalists didn’t do their jobs in the run up to the Iraq war.

hallin-model2

When (with some exceptions) political journalists failed properly to examine George W. Bush’s case for war in Iraq, they were making a category mistake. They treated Bush’s plan as part of the sphere of consensus. But even when Congress supports it, a case for war can never be removed from legitimate debate. That’s just a bad idea. Mentally placing the war’s opponents in the sphere of deviance was another category error. In politics, when people screw up like that, we can replace them: throw the bums out! we say. But the First Amendment says we cannot do that to people in the press. The bums stay. And later they are free to say: we didn’t screw up at all, as David Gregory, now host of Meet the Press, did say to his enduring shame.

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