Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Talking About the News

Did my panel thing, with Froomkin, David Shuster, Craig Crawford, Richard Wolffe, Keith Boykin, and Marisa Trevino, and moderated by Cenk Uygur and Jon Elliot. Topic was what you'd expect. Was a pretty good discussion, generally. Wolffe offered up the kind of defense of his tribe that you often see, pointing to specific acts of journalism that provide some redemption. His specific example was a Newsweek article about Colin Powell's UN speech which was fairly skeptical of his claims. Fair enough, but it really points to how important the "talking about the news" is relative to the news itself. Punditry, whether the op-ed kind, the talk show roundtable kind, or the "Wolf Blitzer talks to an expert" kind, really does shape peoples' perception of the news. That's their job, to digest immense amounts of information and package it into a more easily manageable chunk. To tell us what it all means and what we're supposed to think about it. Of course there is good journalism out there (as well as bad), but what's really broken among our elite beltway press is the conventional wisdom generation machine, the one which dubbed Colin Powell's speech a "winning hand" and declared the debate about the war officially over now that the Very Serious Colin Powell had made the case. ...more details from Rick, who showed up late and missed most of my brilliant contributions to the discussion.