Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Tony Snow Slams Media in Freedom of Speech Award Address
NewsBusters.org ^ | Noel Sheppard |

Posted on 11/03/2007 1:42:38 PM PDT by SandRat

Edited on 11/03/2007 3:13:25 PM PDT by Admin Moderator. [history]

Although you likely didn't hear about it, former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow received a Freedom of Speech Award on October 16 from The Media Institute.

During his acceptance, Snow made some statements about liberal bias in the press, as well as the condition of the media industry, which fully explain why this event, as well as his address, went virtually unreported.

Thankfully, Glenn Reynolds found this spectacular speech for your review. Unfortunately, the text was posted as a PDF file that cannot be copied.

As such, you're going to have to read this marvelous speech by yourself without any commentary from me, which might actually be an ancillary benefit as far as some are concerned.

However, I assure you it is well worth the read.

****ADMIN EDIT***

xxxxxxxxxxxx
Remarks of Tony Snow
Upon Receiving Freedom of Speech Award
From The Media Institute
Friends & Benefactors Awards Banquet
Washington, D.C.
October 16, 2007

Thank you for this award. lam not quite sure why I have received it, but I´m not inclined to ask or complain. Instead, I´ll express my gratitude by giving the First Amendment a good workout for the next few minutes.

First, a confession: I love the news business. I spent 28 years in newspapers, television and radio, and no doubt will return in some fashion to all three.

Few professions are as stimulating, unpredictable or fun. At its best, journalism serves as an unending graduate school — a place where one constantly must learn new things, meet new people, encounter everything from garden-variety evil to shimmering new advances on the intellectual and cultural scene, and stand on history´s sidelines, while someone pays you for the adventure. That´s a great deal by any standard.

The First Amendment, as others have noted, serves as the foundation for the enterprise, and supports reporters in their quest for truth .- or at least for serviceable facts that in time might lead them toward some reasonable facsimile of truth.

We also hear that the First Amendment is under siege. I think that´s true. I don´t believe anyone here would disagree with the proposition that the quality of public discourse isn´t what it once was or that it presently achieves levels of excellence and depth that it desperately needs to reach.

Yet, while it may be tempting to blame the usual suspects — the government, interest groups, angry factionalists — those forces frequently have always tried to restrict the free flow of ideas, and they always have failed.

They´re not the culprits here. Instead, there´s a new and unexpected menace on the block:

The media.

Let me explain. American journalism finds itself in a highly unusual predicament. In the early days of this nation, the press was wild, untamed, and omnipresent. Papers sprouted everywhere, and not even Ben Franklin could resist the temptation to turn his printing presses
into devices for spreading gossip, maligning political enemies, and entertaining readers with items ranging from the important to the grandly weird.

Then came a period of consolidation and gentrification. Moguls controlled major media

outlets and a handful of elite institutions — the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and the three television networks — shaped and defined not merely what counted as news, but what counted as acceptable opinion. The press lost its Wild West flavor and became

what Tom Wolfe described as “a Victorian gent.”

Lately, we have returned to the Wild West, thanks to the advent of new media, and

nobody knows quite how to handle it. Ideas and controversies are erupting from every pore of

American society — from blogs, talk radio, internet news and chat sites, and online video forums. The rich no longer have a monopoly on distributing ideas and views; everyone can do it, and

millions are.

Technology has democratized the media. You can get whatever you want somewhere on the net, including a lot of attention-seeking rage. In fact, hysteria seems to have become

something of a driver in certain quarters of the blogosphere.

Political rhetoric has turned nasty, childish, and very personal, especially on Capitol Hill, and Americans are sick of it. Hotheads seem to be enjoying a false spring of fame. And members of the mainstream press are scratching their heads and asking, “What´s going on here?” Why are the nation´s newspapers hemorrhaging readers? Why are the television networks losing viewers? Why has cable news suddenly hit still water? What is going on? Don´t Americans care about the news?

Well, of course they do: The problem is, they don´t think they´re getting news — and they´re right. Three factors explain the sudden crisis facing once-mighty keepers of the First Amendment flame.

The first is sheer smugness. Reporters and editors for three decades have sneered at accusations of bias, as if the claim were novel — it is not — unthinkable — it is not — or false — which it also is not.

The major media organs in this country have become purveyors of conventional wisdom

— generally, conventional liberal wisdom.
The Roper Organization conducted a poll after the 1992 election and discovered that 93 percent of Washington political reporters voted for Bill Clinton. Only 2 percent identified themselves as “conservative.”

Subsequent surveys have indicated a similar spread in party affiliation, which makes the Washington Press Corps the most reliable Democratic voting bloc in the nation.

This is not a smear or a criticism. It is a fact, and it´s worth examining. My theory is that liberal — Democratic — sympathies flourish among reporters for very practical reasons. Democrats ran every major institution in Washington for 62 years — between 1932 and 1994. That´s the longest string of effective one-party rule in the history of democracy. Reporters knew that to get news, they needed to cultivate the people who made the news — who shaped legislation, who passed the laws, who peopled government departments and agencies — in other words, the people who really pull the levers in Washington. They needed to know elected officials, staffers, bureaucratic gnomes — the vast bulk of whom were Democrats.

Year in, year out, reporters and sources worked together. Over time, many became friendly, if not friends. They attended the same parties. Their kids went to the same schools. They shared stories of their ambitions and fears. They developed empathy for one another.

Reporters knew liberal arguments inside and out, because they heard them all the lime from their sources. Meanwhile, they remained strangers to conservative viewpoints, even (or especially) during the heyday of the Reagan Revolution.

Iwill never forget receiving several calls the day after the surprising Republican landslide in 1994. Political reporters called me, a known conservative in the journalism fraternity, seeking introductions to the exotic breed known as Republicans.

The scribes harbored no personal animosity toward conservatives. They just weren´t used to dealing with them. They felt the need to approach them cautiously, with the blend of suspicion and fear you might feel if someone asked you to stroke a Gila monster.

That presumption of strangeness lingers today — again, not out of malice toward the right, but as a product of blank incomprehension. Reporters as a whole understand one side far better than the other — and thus have slid out of touch with a nation that still sees itself pretty evenly divided on political matters.
The ideological sameness of major news organizations is bad journalism, bad business and bad for the First Amendment, which was designed to foment ferocious debate — not orthodoxy.

In response to this neo-orthodoxy, competing media have arisen to fill the void. These include talk radio, conservative blogs and internet sites, and the like. It is telling that Fox News — which from experience I can tell you stresses the importance of telling both sides — gets hammered just for giving conservatives equal time and equal respect.

Some of these new media and their practitioners are every bit as blinkered as the old media — often by design. There´s a pretty vigorous market these days for over-the-top hate_mongering on both sides of the ideological spectrum. Predictably, however, that sort of stuff is beginning to wear thin, and really shrill combatants are beginning to lose market share. The growing national discontent over the tone of political debate ought to make it clear that it´s silly to ignore competing ideas. To do so is to lose a chance to learn.

Afree press is supposed to relish and weigh ideas, not discard some simply on the basis of polite fashion. It´s a good thing to walk in someone else´s shoes, to try to see the world as they do. The quest permits one to look at issues and events from different angles and perspectives, to encounter new ways of thinking, and to add to one´s mental toolkit. It makes an already interesting job even more stimulating, and can make smart reporters even sharper when it comes to understanding national stories and trends.

But smugness isn´t the only threat to the First Amendment. Political correctness also stands in the way. It routinely imposes the kind of censorship journalists ought to hate most — prior restraint. It forbids the mere contemplation or acknowledgment of views that ruffle the feathers of self-appointed arbiters of the acceptable. These grandees usually find some kindly explanation for their banning of forbidden topics and thoughts — the communications in question hurt people´s feelings, invoke stereotypes, that sort of thing. But let´s be clear: the First Amendment didn´t create allowances for censors.

The Constitution´s authors would have grasped the utter frivolity of political correctness. It isn´t necessary. American society has a wonderful record of rejecting demagogues and verbal exhibitionists, without prodding or intervention from self-appointed scolds. The votaries of hatred and division occasionally have their day, but never for long. Americans have little
patience for tub-thumping maniacs, and they reject demagogues with regular and ruthless efficiency.

In fact, the average Joe is far less susceptible to shabby fads than the PC police, who have become so ubiquitous and whose ministrations have become so absurd that even my elementary- school children are making fun of them — and not because Daddy has prompted them to do so.

Unfortunately, some in the press have adopted PC etiquette and practice without coercion from a Grand Inquisitor. There are questions some media organizations simply don´t ask. For instance, is racism as bad as it was two decades ago? The answer is no. If you doubt it, check out your kids. They´re refreshingly devoid of the bigotry and self-consciousness that characterized our youth. This is an immensely positive development, but nobody dares acknowledge it. It´s forbidden. And so race-baiters generate headlines, while healers and innovators toil unnoticed.

And what about conventional wisdom? For months, the media avoided asking about progress in Iraq. Despite repeated reports from the field that Iraqis had turned against al Qaeda, the news seldom made it into newspapers, and almost never on front pages. Last week, the military reported that civilian deaths in Iraq had hit their lowest point since 2003. U.S. and Iraqi deaths and casualties similarly had declined. So what led the paper the next morning? Stories about Blackwater. The statistics that put the war in perspective were relegated to the back pages of the Washington Post and in some publications, to oblivion.

Avigorous press must be one in which reporters challenge their own sympathies and assumptions as aggressively as they challenge the sympathies and assumptions of others. Unfortunately, that too seldom happens, with the consequence that opinion-mongering has driven out straight news.

Let me turn to an entirely different threat to the First Amendment: The endless news cycle. Americans love news. We can´t get enough news, and we now can slake our thirsts at any time by jumping on the internet or watching cable news.

These new media specialize in speed — instant reportage, instant analysis, instant controversy. Unfortunately, the print media haven´t adjusted very effectively to the new competition. Rather than trying to develop a market for deeper analysis of the rich debates swirling in this nation, newspapers have decided to play copycat. Reporters who once had the luxury of trying to drill into stories now have to file hurried one-paragraph updates for the online editions of the papers.
The business has become a full-time sprint, with air time and top-of-the-fold placement at a premium. These competitive pressures have pushed news organizations toward three kinds of easy stories that always can be updated, and can be counted upon to generate interest.

First are process stories. These pieces let journalists share tiny shards of information about the inside operations of the government: “Today, the president had orange marmalade with his toast. In a dramatic departure from past practice, the toast was white.”

“Speaker Pelosi will meet at 3 pm with a delegation from Iraq.”

Or: “We have a rumor about the next departure from the White House!”

These are all quaintly interesting, but largely trivial. Reporters nevertheless find themselves under constant pressure to accumulate and disgorge factoids, so they can be the first to recite them on camera, publish them online — and, of course, leak to Drudge.

Conflict stories provide a second source of low-hanging fatal fruit. Example: Harry Reid calls the president a liar. Reporters get word of the insult on their blackberries. They demand an immediate response from the White House press secretary.

This is not a hypothetical scenario. It happens all the time. I have stood at the White House podium, watching reporters unholstering their blackberries and looking at urgent communications from the home office. Within moments, the questions come like hurled fruit:

Everyone wants to know about some utterance or event that took place or were reported after the briefing itself began — things about which I knew nothing, including the larger context. The point of such questions isn´t to get content and context right: It´s to play gotcha— to make public officials respond to insults and insinuations rather than ideas and facts.

Now, far be it from me to derogate the heat-seeking one-liner. Insults have a long and proud place in American politics. One of my favorites took place years ago, when drug testing was all the rage. A pretender to Fritz Hollings´ s seat demanded that the old boy take a drug test. This prompted Hoilings to reply: “I´ll take a drug test just as soon as my opponent takes an I.Q. test.”

That, my friends, is a wonderful insult. It´s also a lousy surrogate for analysis or information.

In one of those horrid quandaries that now form the bane of editors´ existence, consumers claim to despise such stories. They´re lying, of course — as ratings and web hits demonstrate.
People love juicy, titillating, humiliating, crass, gross and slimy tales — always have. Millions will stare slack-jawed at car ambling down the 5 in Los Angeles, or gobble up the latest about Brittney and her babies. Sensational stories are incredibly tough to avoid — but they shouldn´t form the bulk of Washington reportage.

The third news-cycle pox: Polls. Polls provide a ripe source for conflict because pollsters regularly reduce complex questions to queries of mind-numbing simplicity: Do you want America out of the war? Would you like it if the government guaranteed health care? Should the government guarantee full employment? Should we spend more on education? Should we cut your taxes?

The answer to each of the above is, “Well, sure!” But note that the questions are asked in a vacuum, as if the object of a respondent´s desire could be had for free, without consequences. Pollsters routinely ask if people would like something unobtainable — guaranteed employment, for example — and politicians take the wistful answers as holy writ.

Someone opposed to a guaranteed employment scheme can expect to be accused of supporting joblessness or hating the poor, at which point the mud would fly on both sides — all because of a poll question based on an idiotic assumption. Dumb questions beget dumb debate.

In short, media organizations have been seduced by process, conflict and polling stories, and along the way have sacrificed the tradition of looking for creative ways to understand and explain the world. They have become hostages to the easy and shallow stuff and strangers to stories that touch people´s hearts and characterize their actual lives.

Indeed, journalists seem to have developed an elitist contempt for the daily concerns of viewers, listeners and readers — and the public has noticed. This explains the across-the-board slippage in newspaper circulation, and viewership of broadcast and cable news.

This brings me to the final dangerous factor — a cramped view of the First Amendment itself. News organizations gleefully embrace the First Amendment´s protection of a free press, but what about the two other freedoms — of religion and assembly? The three are linked indissolubly. The assail one is to weaken the other two.

But the journalistic establishment doesn´t seem to appreciate this fact. Religion in this country — Christianity especially — has been redefined as a menace, rather than a bulwark of our social order. Schools no longer acknowledge Christmas, for instance, but they celebrate Kw an z a a
The onslaught against traditional religion is palpable and real. Despite this, religion flourishes — revealing a profound and growing disconnect between the journalistic establishment and the public, not to mention the political elites who have put many of the strictures in place.

The press does a horrible job of discussing religion — reporters are less likely to attend worship service than the public generally, and are less likely to take a skeptical view of those who want to constrain religious expression. In some cases, one can almost hear a muffled cheer when a court or organization puts a muzzle on those who merely want to express their religious beliefs.

Similarly, we spend too little time defending the rights of people to assemble freely, including those determined to make perfect fools of themselves by expressing outré views.

Campaign-finance reform is an abomination to the First Amendment. It limits the ability of citizens to express political views during political campaigns, thus taking the attack on free assembly into realm of electronic communications. The McCain-Feingold law has restricted the right of people to express themselves in the most basic public forum of all — the political town square.

Predictably, campaign-finance reform did what it always does: It reduced the power of average citizens to affect political campaigns, and strengthened the hands of the wealthiest among us. McCain-Feingold destroyed political parties and educational and organizational institutions, drove out moderating voices, lifted the lid on spending — there´s talk of a billion- dollar presidential race next year — and seems only to have enhanced the standing of cranky billionaires.

I´ve raced through a lot of issues here, but you get the point: The media have embraced practices and policies that actually erode First Amendment freedoms and weaken the practice of journalism itself.

Now, I´ll conclude with good news and bad news.

First, the bad: The public hates politics and the press. People don´t trust either institution, even though they sustain our system of free intellectual enterprise. Those of us involved in either profession — or in my case, both — shouldn´t complain. We need to ask how things reached this state, and how we can fix the problem.
Now the good news: I don´t think any of the weaknesses I have cited are inherent or irreversible. I have spent nearly 30 years of my life in the business of journalism, and with luck, I´ll get 30 more. I love the business and the people who work in it.

My experience as White House press secretary confirmed what I always have known:

Reporters and curious, aggressive, eager to learn, and interested in ideas. They share many of the frustrations I have mentioned this evening. They want to range wider, dig deeper and explore more broadly than they can today. They hate censorship. They love what they do. They see it as a noble calling. They want to get better at their jobs, and they want to grind their competitors into dust.

They know the public has become sick of vicious political discourse and the media who pass it on. They know the country teems with new kinds of stories, incredible innovations, novel ways of attacking the problems we all confront.

But everyone needs to realize that the days of the old-fashioned newsroom are over. It´s a different world out there — wilder, more competitive, and much less predictable than even a decade ago.

Rather than cursing innovation, journalists need to embrace it. They need to get out of their cubicles and plunge into the task that drew most of us into the business in the first place — the challenge of engaging a chaotic world filled with willful fellow human beings; a world of joy and agony; of triumph and crushing failure; a world united by love and atomized by hatreds and aggression,

The democratic media provide new tools for examining our world, new competitors for reporting about that world, and new reminders to the press establishment that markets really do work — and people want better than they´re getting.

Icome not to bury journalism, but to celebrate and challenge it. It´s a cliché that every crisis presents an opportunity, but it´s true: The democratization of the media is a good thing. We now face competition from all quarters — including from people who have specialized expertise that journalists lack. We ought to welcome the new participants in the game and learn from them. They should do the same with us.

There´s an old boast in the business — that the job of ajournalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The thing is, we never realized that we were becoming The Comfortable — with good pay, job security, and access to movers and shakers all around the
world. We need to cast off our coziness — venture away from safe stories and presumptions and into the wilderness of new topics, new ideas and new sources of information.

In that quest lies the possibility of fulfillment and joy — and the hope of keeping alive the text and the spirit of the First Amendment.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Front Page News; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: media; slams; snow; tony; tonysnow

1 posted on 11/03/2007 1:42:40 PM PDT by SandRat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SandRat
Talk about someone with class....and he was virtually forced to swim in a pool infested with liberal sharks.

He did so with skill and an unsinkable sense of humor. Humor to liberals is like a cross is to vampires. They would prefer that you yell at them so they can become victims. But when you ignore them or, best of all, laugh at them, they have no defense.

Remember how "The Gipper" used to destroy the liberals with humor?

Tony, you have a huge fan club here on FR.

2 posted on 11/03/2007 1:55:00 PM PDT by capt. norm (Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat
Tony hits a home run as usual!
3 posted on 11/03/2007 1:55:11 PM PDT by Bender2 ("I've got a twisted sense of humor, and everything amuses me." RAH Beyond this Horizon)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat; maica
not out of malice toward the right

Tony is much too generous. There is great malice from the left. There may have been no animosity when Republicans were the 40 year long minority, happy to go the the right parties and stay in the minority. Today, animosity is the left's modus operandi.

Of course, I never even heard that Tony Snow won this award, much less the content of his speech.

4 posted on 11/03/2007 2:06:15 PM PDT by Freee-dame
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

Great speech! Here’s the plain text (I have ScanSoft, a .pdf file converter program):

Remarks of Tony Snow
Upon Receiving Freedom of Speech Award
From The Media Institute
Friends & Benefactors Awards Banquet
Washington, D.C.
October 16, 2007

Thank you for this award. I am not quite sure why I have received it, but I’m not inclined to ask or complain. Instead, I’ll express my gratitude by giving the First Amendment a good workout for the next few minutes.
First, a confession: I love the news business. I spent 28 years in newspapers, television and radio, and no doubt will return in some fashion to all three.
Few professions are as stimulating, unpredictable or fun. At its best, journalism serves as an unending graduate school – a place where one constantly must learn new things, meet new people, encounter everything from garden-variety evil to shimmering new advances on the intellectual and cultural scene, and stand on history’s sidelines, while someone pays you for the adventure. That’s a great deal by any standard.
The First Amendment, as others have noted, serves as the foundation for the enterprise, and supports reporters in their quest for truth – or at least for serviceable facts that in time might lead them toward some reasonable facsimile of truth.
We also hear that the First Amendment is under siege. I think that’s true. I don’t believe anyone here would disagree with the proposition that the quality of public discourse isn’t what it once was or that it presently achieves levels of excellence and depth that it desperately needs to reach.
Yet, while it may be tempting to blame the usual suspects – the government, interest groups, angry factionalists – those forces frequently have always tried to restrict the free flow of ideas, and they always have failed.
They’re not the culprits here. Instead, there’s a new and unexpected menace on the block: The media.
Let me explain. American journalism finds itself in a highly unusual predicament. In the early days of this nation, the press was wild, untamed, and omnipresent. Papers sprouted everywhere, and not even Ben Franklin could resist the temptation to turn his printing presses into devices for spreading gossip, maligning political enemies, and entertaining readers with items ranging from the important to the grandly weird.
Then came a period of consolidation and gentrification. Moguls controlled major media outlets and a handful of elite institutions – the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and the three television networks – shaped and defined not merely what counted as news, but what counted as acceptable opinion. The press lost its Wild West flavor and became what Tom Wolfe described as “a Victorian gent.”
Lately, we have returned to the Wild West, thanks to the advent of new media, and nobody knows quite how to handle it. Ideas and controversies are erupting from every pore of American society – from blogs, talk radio, internet news and chat sites, and online video forums. The rich no longer have a monopoly on distributing ideas and views; everyone can do it, and millions are.
Technology has democratized the media. You can get whatever you want somewhere on the net, including a lot of attention-seeking rage. In fact, hysteria seems to have become something of a driver in certain quarters of the blogosphere.
Political rhetoric has turned nasty, childish, and very personal, especially on Capitol Hill, and Americans are sick of it. Hotheads seem to be enjoying a false spring of fame. And members of the mainstream press are scratching their heads and asking, “What’s going on here?” Why are the nation’s newspapers hemorrhaging readers? Why are the television networks losing viewers? Why has cable news suddenly hit still water? What is going on? Don’t Americans care about the news?
Well, of course they do: The problem is, they don’t think they’re getting news – and they’re right. Three factors explain the sudden crisis facing once-mighty keepers of the First Amendment flame.
The first is sheer smugness. Reporters and editors for three decades have sneered at accusations of bias, as if the claim were novel – it is not – unthinkable – it is not – or false –which it also is not.
The major media organs in this country have become purveyors of conventional wisdom – generally, conventional liberal wisdom.

The Roper Organization conducted a poll after the 1992 election and discovered that 93 percent of Washington political reporters voted for Bill Clinton. Only 2 percent identified themselves as “conservative.”
Subsequent surveys have indicated a similar spread in party affiliation, which makes the Washington Press Corps the most reliable Democratic voting bloc in the nation.
This is not a smear or a criticism. It is a fact, and it’s worth examining. My theory is that liberal – Democratic – sympathies flourish among reporters for very practical reasons. Democrats ran every major institution in Washington for 62 years – between 1932 and 1994. That’s the longest string of effective one-party rule in the history of democracy. Reporters knew that to get news, they needed to cultivate the people who made the news – who shaped legislation, who passed the laws, who peopled government departments and agencies – in other words, the people who really pull the levers in Washington. They needed to know elected officials, staffers, bureaucratic gnomes – the vast bulk of whom were Democrats.
Year in, year out, reporters and sources worked together. Over time, many became friendly, if not friends. They attended the same parties. Their kids went to the same schools. They shared stories of their ambitions and fears. They developed empathy for one another.
Reporters knew liberal arguments inside and out, because they heard them all the time from their sources. Meanwhile, they remained strangers to conservative viewpoints, even (or especially) during the heyday of the Reagan Revolution.
I will never forget receiving several calls the day after the surprising Republican landslide in 1994. Political reporters called me, a known conservative in the journalism fraternity, seeking introductions to the exotic breed known as Republicans.
The scribes harbored no personal animosity toward conservatives. They just weren’t used to dealing with them. They felt the need to approach them cautiously, with the blend of suspicion and fear you might feel if someone asked you to stroke a Gila monster.
That presumption of strangeness lingers today – again, not out of malice toward the right, but as a product of blank incomprehension. Reporters as a whole understand one side far better than the other – and thus have slid out of touch with a nation that still sees itself pretty evenly divided on political matters.

The ideological sameness of major news organizations is bad journalism, bad business and bad for the First Amendment, which was designed to foment ferocious debate – not orthodoxy.
In response to this neo-orthodoxy, competing media have arisen to fill the void. These include talk radio, conservative blogs and internet sites, and the like. It is telling that Fox News –which from experience I can tell you stresses the importance of telling both sides – gets hammered just for giving conservatives equal time and equal respect.
Some of these new media and their practitioners are every bit as blinkered as the old media – often by design. There’s a pretty vigorous market these days for over-the-top hate-mongering on both sides of the ideological spectrum. Predictably, however, that sort of stuff is beginning to wear thin, and really shrill combatants are beginning to lose market share. The growing national discontent over the tone of political debate ought to make it clear that it’s silly to ignore competing ideas. To do so is to lose a chance to learn.
A free press is supposed to relish and weigh ideas, not discard some simply on the basis of polite fashion. It’s a good thing to walk in someone else’s shoes, to try to see the world as they do. The quest permits one to look at issues and events from different angles and perspectives, to encounter new ways of thinking, and to add to one’s mental toolkit. It makes an already interesting job even more stimulating, and can make smart reporters even sharper when it comes to understanding national stories and trends.
But smugness isn’t the only threat to the First Amendment. Political correctness also stands in the way. It routinely imposes the kind of censorship journalists ought to hate most –prior restraint. It forbids the mere contemplation or acknowledgment of views that ruffle the feathers of self-appointed arbiters of the acceptable. These grandees usually find some kindly explanation for their banning of forbidden topics and thoughts – the communications in question hurt people’s feelings, invoke stereotypes, that sort of thing. But let’s be clear: the First Amendment didn’t create allowances for censors.
The Constitution’s authors would have grasped the utter frivolity of political correctness. It isn’t necessary. American society has a wonderful record of rejecting demagogues and verbal exhibitionists, without prodding or intervention from self-appointed scolds. The votaries of hatred and division occasionally have their day, but never for long. Americans have little patience for tub-thumping maniacs, and they reject demagogues with regular and ruthless efficiency.
In fact, the average Joe is far less susceptible to shabby fads than the PC police, who have become so ubiquitous and whose ministrations have become so absurd that even my elementary-school children are making fun of them – and not because Daddy has prompted them to do so.
Unfortunately, some in the press have adopted PC etiquette and practice without coercion from a Grand Inquisitor. There are questions some media organizations simply don’t ask. For instance, is racism as bad as it was two decades ago? The answer is no. If you doubt it, check out your kids. They’re refreshingly devoid of the bigotry and self-consciousness that characterized our youth. This is an immensely positive development, but nobody dares acknowledge it. It’s forbidden. And so race-baiters generate headlines, while healers and innovators toil unnoticed.
And what about conventional wisdom? For months, the media avoided asking about progress in Iraq. Despite repeated reports from the field that Iraqis had turned against al Qaeda, the news seldom made it into newspapers, and almost never on front pages. Last week, the military reported that civilian deaths in Iraq had hit their lowest point since 2003. U.S. and Iraqi deaths and casualties similarly had declined. So what led the paper the next morning? Stories about Blackwater. The statistics that put the war in perspective were relegated to the back pages of the Washington Post and in some publications, to oblivion.
A vigorous press must be one in which reporters challenge their own sympathies and assumptions as aggressively as they challenge the sympathies and assumptions of others. Unfortunately, that too seldom happens, with the consequence that opinion-mongering has driven out straight news.
Let me turn to an entirely different threat to the First Amendment: The endless news cycle. Americans love news. We can’t get enough news, and we now can slake our thirsts at any time by jumping on the internet or watching cable news.
These new media specialize in speed – instant reportage, instant analysis, instant controversy. Unfortunately, the print media haven’t adjusted very effectively to the new competition. Rather than trying to develop a market for deeper analysis of the rich debates swirling in this nation, newspapers have decided to play copycat. Reporters who once had the luxury of trying to drill into stories now have to file hurried one-paragraph updates for the online editions of the papers.

The business has become a full-time sprint, with air time and top-of-the-fold placement at a premium. These competitive pressures have pushed news organizations toward three kinds of easy stories that always can be updated, and can be counted upon to generate interest.
First are process stories. These pieces let journalists share tiny shards of information about the inside operations of the government: “Today, the president had orange marmalade with his toast. In a dramatic departure from past practice, the toast was white.”
“Speaker Pelosi will meet at 3 pm with a delegation from Iraq.”
Or: “We have a rumor about the next departure from the White House!”
These are all quaintly interesting, but largely trivial. Reporters nevertheless find themselves under constant pressure to accumulate and disgorge factoids, so they can be the first to recite them on camera, publish them online – and, of course, leak to Drudge.
Conflict stories provide a second source of low-hanging fatal fruit. Example: Harry Reid calls the president a liar. Reporters get word of the insult on their blackberries. They demand an immediate response from the White House press secretary.
This is not a hypothetical scenario. It happens all the time. I have stood at the White House podium, watching reporters unholstering their blackberries and looking at urgent communications from the home office. Within moments, the questions come like hurled fruit: Everyone wants to know about some utterance or event that took place or were reported after the briefing itself began – things about which I knew nothing, including the larger context. The point of such questions isn’t to get content and context right: It’s to play gotcha – to make public officials respond to insults and insinuations rather than ideas and facts.
Now, far be it from me to derogate the heat-seeking one-liner. Insults have a long and proud place in American politics. One of my favorites took place years ago, when drug testing was all the rage. A pretender to Fritz Hollings’s seat demanded that the old boy take a drug test. This prompted Hollings to reply: “I’ll take a drug test just as soon as my opponent takes an I.Q. test.”
That, my friends, is a wonderful insult. It’s also a lousy surrogate for analysis or information.
In one of those horrid quandaries that now form the bane of editors’ existence, consumers claim to despise such stories. They’re lying, of course – as ratings and web hits demonstrate.

People love juicy, titillating, humiliating, crass, gross and slimy tales – always have. Millions will stare slack-jawed at car ambling down the 5 in Los Angeles, or gobble up the latest about Brittney and her babies. Sensational stories are incredibly tough to avoid – but they shouldn’t form the bulk of Washington reportage.
The third news-cycle pox: Polls. Polls provide a ripe source for conflict because pollsters regularly reduce complex questions to queries of mind-numbing simplicity: Do you want America out of the war? Would you like it if the government guaranteed health care? Should the government guarantee full employment? Should we spend more on education? Should we cut your taxes?
The answer to each of the above is, “Well, sure!” But note that the questions are asked in a vacuum, as if the object of a respondent’s desire could be had for free, without consequences. Pollsters routinely ask if people would like something unobtainable – guaranteed employment, for example – and politicians take the wistful answers as holy writ.
Someone opposed to a guaranteed employment scheme can expect to be accused of supporting joblessness or hating the poor, at which point the mud would fly on both sides – all because of a poll question based on an idiotic assumption. Dumb questions beget dumb debate.
In short, media organizations have been seduced by process, conflict and polling stories, and along the way have sacrificed the tradition of looking for creative ways to understand and explain the world. They have become hostages to the easy and shallow stuff and strangers to stories that touch people’s hearts and characterize their actual lives.
Indeed, journalists seem to have developed an elitist contempt for the daily concerns of viewers, listeners and readers – and the public has noticed. This explains the across-the-board slippage in newspaper circulation, and viewership of broadcast and cable news.
This brings me to the final dangerous factor – a cramped view of the First Amendment itself. News organizations gleefully embrace the First Amendment’s protection of a free press, but what about the two other freedoms – of religion and assembly? The three are linked indissolubly. The assail one is to weaken the other two.
But the journalistic establishment doesn’t seem to appreciate this fact. Religion in this country – Christianity especially – has been redefined as a menace, rather than a bulwark of our social order. Schools no longer acknowledge Christmas, for instance, but they celebrate Kwanzaa.

The onslaught against traditional religion is palpable and real. Despite this, religion flourishes – revealing a profound and growing disconnect between the journalistic establishment and the public, not to mention the political elites who have put many of the strictures in place.
The press does a horrible job of discussing religion – reporters are less likely to attend worship service than the public generally, and are less likely to take a skeptical view of those who want to constrain religious expression. In some cases, one can almost hear a muffled cheer when a court or organization puts a muzzle on those who merely want to express their religious beliefs.
Similarly, we spend too little time defending the rights of people to assemble freely, including those determined to make perfect fools of themselves by expressing outré views.
Campaign-finance reform is an abomination to the First Amendment. It limits the ability of citizens to express political views during political campaigns, thus taking the attack on free assembly into realm of electronic communications. The McCain-Feingold law has restricted the right of people to express themselves in the most basic public forum of all – the political town square.
Predictably, campaign-finance reform did what it always does: It reduced the power of average citizens to affect political campaigns, and strengthened the hands of the wealthiest among us. McCain-Feingold destroyed political parties and educational and organizational institutions, drove out moderating voices, lifted the lid on spending – there’s talk of a billion-dollar presidential race next year – and seems only to have enhanced the standing of cranky billionaires.
I’ve raced through a lot of issues here, but you get the point: The media have embraced practices and policies that actually erode First Amendment freedoms and weaken the practice of journalism itself.
Now, I’ll conclude with good news and bad news.
First, the bad: The public hates politics and the press. People don’t trust either institution, even though they sustain our system of free intellectual enterprise. Those of us involved in either profession – or in my case, both – shouldn’t complain. We need to ask how things reached this state, and how we can fix the problem.

Now the good news: I don’t think any of the weaknesses I have cited are inherent or irreversible. I have spent nearly 30 years of my life in the business of journalism, and with luck, I’ll get 30 more. I love the business and the people who work in it.
My experience as White House press secretary confirmed what I always have known: Reporters and curious, aggressive, eager to learn, and interested in ideas. They share many of the frustrations I have mentioned this evening. They want to range wider, dig deeper and explore more broadly than they can today. They hate censorship. They love what they do. They see it as
a noble calling. They want to get better at their jobs, and they want to grind their competitors into dust.
They know the public has become sick of vicious political discourse and the media who pass it on. They know the country teems with new kinds of stories, incredible innovations, novel ways of attacking the problems we all confront.
But everyone needs to realize that the days of the old-fashioned newsroom are over. It’s a different world out there – wilder, more competitive, and much less predictable than even a decade ago.
Rather than cursing innovation, journalists need to embrace it. They need to get out of their cubicles and plunge into the task that drew most of us into the business in the first place –the challenge of engaging a chaotic world filled with willful fellow human beings; a world of joy and agony; of triumph and crushing failure; a world united by love and atomized by hatreds and aggression,
The democratic media provide new tools for examining our world, new competitors for reporting about that world, and new reminders to the press establishment that markets really do work – and people want better than they’re getting.
I come not to bury journalism, but to celebrate and challenge it. It’s a cliché that every crisis presents an opportunity, but it’s true: The democratization of the media is a good thing. We now face competition from all quarters – including from people who have specialized expertise that journalists lack. We ought to welcome the new participants in the game and learn from them. They should do the same with us.
There’s an old boast in the business – that the job of a journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The thing is, we never realized that we were becoming The Comfortable – with good pay, job security, and access to movers and shakers all around the world. We need to cast off our coziness — venture away from safe stories and presumptions and into the wilderness of new topics, new ideas and new sources of information.
In that quest lies the possibility of fulfillment and joy — and the hope of keeping alive the text and the spirit of the First Amendment.


5 posted on 11/03/2007 2:06:37 PM PDT by Enchante (Democrat terror-fighting motto: "BLEAT - CHEAT - RETREAT - DEFEAT")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

Great Speech and yo the point!! Please take the time to read and digest Tony’s Acceptance Address.


6 posted on 11/03/2007 2:07:52 PM PDT by True Republican Patriot (God Bless America and The Republicans)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

I hope you get to do this for another 30 years, too, Tony! Great speech!


7 posted on 11/03/2007 2:09:18 PM PDT by Theresawithanh (FRED!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

Here you go Sandrat

Cut Paste Comment

xxxxxxxxxxxx
Remarks of Tony Snow
Upon Receiving Freedom of Speech Award
From The Media Institute
Friends & Benefactors Awards Banquet
Washington, D.C.
October 16, 2007

Thank you for this award. lam not quite sure why I have received it, but I’m not inclined to ask or complain. Instead, I’ll express my gratitude by giving the First Amendment a good workout for the next few minutes.

First, a confession: I love the news business. I spent 28 years in newspapers, television and radio, and no doubt will return in some fashion to all three.

Few professions are as stimulating, unpredictable or fun. At its best, journalism serves as an unending graduate school — a place where one constantly must learn new things, meet new people, encounter everything from garden-variety evil to shimmering new advances on the intellectual and cultural scene, and stand on history’s sidelines, while someone pays you for the adventure. That’s a great deal by any standard.

The First Amendment, as others have noted, serves as the foundation for the enterprise, and supports reporters in their quest for truth .- or at least for serviceable facts that in time might lead them toward some reasonable facsimile of truth.

We also hear that the First Amendment is under siege. I think that’s true. I don’t believe anyone here would disagree with the proposition that the quality of public discourse isn’t what it once was or that it presently achieves levels of excellence and depth that it desperately needs to reach.

Yet, while it may be tempting to blame the usual suspects — the government, interest groups, angry factionalists — those forces frequently have always tried to restrict the free flow of ideas, and they always have failed.

They’re not the culprits here. Instead, there’s a new and unexpected menace on the block:

The media.

Let me explain. American journalism finds itself in a highly unusual predicament. In the early days of this nation, the press was wild, untamed, and omnipresent. Papers sprouted everywhere, and not even Ben Franklin could resist the temptation to turn his printing presses
into devices for spreading gossip, maligning political enemies, and entertaining readers with items ranging from the important to the grandly weird.

Then came a period of consolidation and gentrification. Moguls controlled major media

outlets and a handful of elite institutions — the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and the three television networks — shaped and defined not merely what counted as news, but what counted as acceptable opinion. The press lost its Wild West flavor and became

what Tom Wolfe described as “a Victorian gent.”

Lately, we have returned to the Wild West, thanks to the advent of new media, and

nobody knows quite how to handle it. Ideas and controversies are erupting from every pore of

American society — from blogs, talk radio, internet news and chat sites, and online video forums. The rich no longer have a monopoly on distributing ideas and views; everyone can do it, and

millions are.

Technology has democratized the media. You can get whatever you want somewhere on the net, including a lot of attention-seeking rage. In fact, hysteria seems to have become

something of a driver in certain quarters of the blogosphere.

Political rhetoric has turned nasty, childish, and very personal, especially on Capitol Hill, and Americans are sick of it. Hotheads seem to be enjoying a false spring of fame. And members of the mainstream press are scratching their heads and asking, “What’s going on here?” Why are the nation’s newspapers hemorrhaging readers? Why are the television networks losing viewers? Why has cable news suddenly hit still water? What is going on? Don’t Americans care about the news?

Well, of course they do: The problem is, they don’t think they’re getting news — and they’re right. Three factors explain the sudden crisis facing once-mighty keepers of the First Amendment flame.

The first is sheer smugness. Reporters and editors for three decades have sneered at accusations of bias, as if the claim were novel — it is not — unthinkable — it is not — or false — which it also is not.

The major media organs in this country have become purveyors of conventional wisdom

— generally, conventional liberal wisdom.
The Roper Organization conducted a poll after the 1992 election and discovered that 93 percent of Washington political reporters voted for Bill Clinton. Only 2 percent identified themselves as “conservative.”

Subsequent surveys have indicated a similar spread in party affiliation, which makes the Washington Press Corps the most reliable Democratic voting bloc in the nation.

This is not a smear or a criticism. It is a fact, and it’s worth examining. My theory is that liberal — Democratic — sympathies flourish among reporters for very practical reasons. Democrats ran every major institution in Washington for 62 years — between 1932 and 1994. That’s the longest string of effective one-party rule in the history of democracy. Reporters knew that to get news, they needed to cultivate the people who made the news — who shaped legislation, who passed the laws, who peopled government departments and agencies — in other words, the people who really pull the levers in Washington. They needed to know elected officials, staffers, bureaucratic gnomes — the vast bulk of whom were Democrats.

Year in, year out, reporters and sources worked together. Over time, many became friendly, if not friends. They attended the same parties. Their kids went to the same schools. They shared stories of their ambitions and fears. They developed empathy for one another.

Reporters knew liberal arguments inside and out, because they heard them all the lime from their sources. Meanwhile, they remained strangers to conservative viewpoints, even (or especially) during the heyday of the Reagan Revolution.

Iwill never forget receiving several calls the day after the surprising Republican landslide in 1994. Political reporters called me, a known conservative in the journalism fraternity, seeking introductions to the exotic breed known as Republicans.

The scribes harbored no personal animosity toward conservatives. They just weren’t used to dealing with them. They felt the need to approach them cautiously, with the blend of suspicion and fear you might feel if someone asked you to stroke a Gila monster.

That presumption of strangeness lingers today — again, not out of malice toward the right, but as a product of blank incomprehension. Reporters as a whole understand one side far better than the other — and thus have slid out of touch with a nation that still sees itself pretty evenly divided on political matters.
The ideological sameness of major news organizations is bad journalism, bad business and bad for the First Amendment, which was designed to foment ferocious debate — not orthodoxy.

In response to this neo-orthodoxy, competing media have arisen to fill the void. These include talk radio, conservative blogs and internet sites, and the like. It is telling that Fox News — which from experience I can tell you stresses the importance of telling both sides — gets hammered just for giving conservatives equal time and equal respect.

Some of these new media and their practitioners are every bit as blinkered as the old media — often by design. There’s a pretty vigorous market these days for over-the-top hate_mongering on both sides of the ideological spectrum. Predictably, however, that sort of stuff is beginning to wear thin, and really shrill combatants are beginning to lose market share. The growing national discontent over the tone of political debate ought to make it clear that it’s silly to ignore competing ideas. To do so is to lose a chance to learn.

Afree press is supposed to relish and weigh ideas, not discard some simply on the basis of polite fashion. It’s a good thing to walk in someone else’s shoes, to try to see the world as they do. The quest permits one to look at issues and events from different angles and perspectives, to encounter new ways of thinking, and to add to one’s mental toolkit. It makes an already interesting job even more stimulating, and can make smart reporters even sharper when it comes to understanding national stories and trends.

But smugness isn’t the only threat to the First Amendment. Political correctness also stands in the way. It routinely imposes the kind of censorship journalists ought to hate most — prior restraint. It forbids the mere contemplation or acknowledgment of views that ruffle the feathers of self-appointed arbiters of the acceptable. These grandees usually find some kindly explanation for their banning of forbidden topics and thoughts — the communications in question hurt people’s feelings, invoke stereotypes, that sort of thing. But let’s be clear: the First Amendment didn’t create allowances for censors.

The Constitution’s authors would have grasped the utter frivolity of political correctness. It isn’t necessary. American society has a wonderful record of rejecting demagogues and verbal exhibitionists, without prodding or intervention from self-appointed scolds. The votaries of hatred and division occasionally have their day, but never for long. Americans have little
patience for tub-thumping maniacs, and they reject demagogues with regular and ruthless efficiency.

In fact, the average Joe is far less susceptible to shabby fads than the PC police, who have become so ubiquitous and whose ministrations have become so absurd that even my elementary- school children are making fun of them — and not because Daddy has prompted them to do so.

Unfortunately, some in the press have adopted PC etiquette and practice without coercion from a Grand Inquisitor. There are questions some media organizations simply don’t ask. For instance, is racism as bad as it was two decades ago? The answer is no. If you doubt it, check out your kids. They’re refreshingly devoid of the bigotry and self-consciousness that characterized our youth. This is an immensely positive development, but nobody dares acknowledge it. It’s forbidden. And so race-baiters generate headlines, while healers and innovators toil unnoticed.

And what about conventional wisdom? For months, the media avoided asking about progress in Iraq. Despite repeated reports from the field that Iraqis had turned against al Qaeda, the news seldom made it into newspapers, and almost never on front pages. Last week, the military reported that civilian deaths in Iraq had hit their lowest point since 2003. U.S. and Iraqi deaths and casualties similarly had declined. So what led the paper the next morning? Stories about Blackwater. The statistics that put the war in perspective were relegated to the back pages of the Washington Post and in some publications, to oblivion.

Avigorous press must be one in which reporters challenge their own sympathies and assumptions as aggressively as they challenge the sympathies and assumptions of others. Unfortunately, that too seldom happens, with the consequence that opinion-mongering has driven out straight news.

Let me turn to an entirely different threat to the First Amendment: The endless news cycle. Americans love news. We can’t get enough news, and we now can slake our thirsts at any time by jumping on the internet or watching cable news.

These new media specialize in speed — instant reportage, instant analysis, instant controversy. Unfortunately, the print media haven’t adjusted very effectively to the new competition. Rather than trying to develop a market for deeper analysis of the rich debates swirling in this nation, newspapers have decided to play copycat. Reporters who once had the luxury of trying to drill into stories now have to file hurried one-paragraph updates for the online editions of the papers.
The business has become a full-time sprint, with air time and top-of-the-fold placement at a premium. These competitive pressures have pushed news organizations toward three kinds of easy stories that always can be updated, and can be counted upon to generate interest.

First are process stories. These pieces let journalists share tiny shards of information about the inside operations of the government: “Today, the president had orange marmalade with his toast. In a dramatic departure from past practice, the toast was white.”

“Speaker Pelosi will meet at 3 pm with a delegation from Iraq.”

Or: “We have a rumor about the next departure from the White House!”

These are all quaintly interesting, but largely trivial. Reporters nevertheless find themselves under constant pressure to accumulate and disgorge factoids, so they can be the first to recite them on camera, publish them online — and, of course, leak to Drudge.

Conflict stories provide a second source of low-hanging fatal fruit. Example: Harry Reid calls the president a liar. Reporters get word of the insult on their blackberries. They demand an immediate response from the White House press secretary.

This is not a hypothetical scenario. It happens all the time. I have stood at the White House podium, watching reporters unholstering their blackberries and looking at urgent communications from the home office. Within moments, the questions come like hurled fruit:

Everyone wants to know about some utterance or event that took place or were reported after the briefing itself began — things about which I knew nothing, including the larger context. The point of such questions isn’t to get content and context right: It’s to play gotcha— to make public officials respond to insults and insinuations rather than ideas and facts.

Now, far be it from me to derogate the heat-seeking one-liner. Insults have a long and proud place in American politics. One of my favorites took place years ago, when drug testing was all the rage. A pretender to Fritz Hollings’ s seat demanded that the old boy take a drug test. This prompted Hoilings to reply: “I’ll take a drug test just as soon as my opponent takes an I.Q. test.”

That, my friends, is a wonderful insult. It’s also a lousy surrogate for analysis or information.

In one of those horrid quandaries that now form the bane of editors’ existence, consumers claim to despise such stories. They’re lying, of course — as ratings and web hits demonstrate.
People love juicy, titillating, humiliating, crass, gross and slimy tales — always have. Millions will stare slack-jawed at car ambling down the 5 in Los Angeles, or gobble up the latest about Brittney and her babies. Sensational stories are incredibly tough to avoid — but they shouldn’t form the bulk of Washington reportage.

The third news-cycle pox: Polls. Polls provide a ripe source for conflict because pollsters regularly reduce complex questions to queries of mind-numbing simplicity: Do you want America out of the war? Would you like it if the government guaranteed health care? Should the government guarantee full employment? Should we spend more on education? Should we cut your taxes?

The answer to each of the above is, “Well, sure!” But note that the questions are asked in a vacuum, as if the object of a respondent’s desire could be had for free, without consequences. Pollsters routinely ask if people would like something unobtainable — guaranteed employment, for example — and politicians take the wistful answers as holy writ.

Someone opposed to a guaranteed employment scheme can expect to be accused of supporting joblessness or hating the poor, at which point the mud would fly on both sides — all because of a poll question based on an idiotic assumption. Dumb questions beget dumb debate.

In short, media organizations have been seduced by process, conflict and polling stories, and along the way have sacrificed the tradition of looking for creative ways to understand and explain the world. They have become hostages to the easy and shallow stuff and strangers to stories that touch people’s hearts and characterize their actual lives.

Indeed, journalists seem to have developed an elitist contempt for the daily concerns of viewers, listeners and readers — and the public has noticed. This explains the across-the-board slippage in newspaper circulation, and viewership of broadcast and cable news.

This brings me to the final dangerous factor — a cramped view of the First Amendment itself. News organizations gleefully embrace the First Amendment’s protection of a free press, but what about the two other freedoms — of religion and assembly? The three are linked indissolubly. The assail one is to weaken the other two.

But the journalistic establishment doesn’t seem to appreciate this fact. Religion in this country — Christianity especially — has been redefined as a menace, rather than a bulwark of our social order. Schools no longer acknowledge Christmas, for instance, but they celebrate Kw an z a a
The onslaught against traditional religion is palpable and real. Despite this, religion flourishes — revealing a profound and growing disconnect between the journalistic establishment and the public, not to mention the political elites who have put many of the strictures in place.

The press does a horrible job of discussing religion — reporters are less likely to attend worship service than the public generally, and are less likely to take a skeptical view of those who want to constrain religious expression. In some cases, one can almost hear a muffled cheer when a court or organization puts a muzzle on those who merely want to express their religious beliefs.

Similarly, we spend too little time defending the rights of people to assemble freely, including those determined to make perfect fools of themselves by expressing outré views.

Campaign-finance reform is an abomination to the First Amendment. It limits the ability of citizens to express political views during political campaigns, thus taking the attack on free assembly into realm of electronic communications. The McCain-Feingold law has restricted the right of people to express themselves in the most basic public forum of all — the political town square.

Predictably, campaign-finance reform did what it always does: It reduced the power of average citizens to affect political campaigns, and strengthened the hands of the wealthiest among us. McCain-Feingold destroyed political parties and educational and organizational institutions, drove out moderating voices, lifted the lid on spending — there’s talk of a billion- dollar presidential race next year — and seems only to have enhanced the standing of cranky billionaires.

I’ve raced through a lot of issues here, but you get the point: The media have embraced practices and policies that actually erode First Amendment freedoms and weaken the practice of journalism itself.

Now, I’ll conclude with good news and bad news.

First, the bad: The public hates politics and the press. People don’t trust either institution, even though they sustain our system of free intellectual enterprise. Those of us involved in either profession — or in my case, both — shouldn’t complain. We need to ask how things reached this state, and how we can fix the problem.
Now the good news: I don’t think any of the weaknesses I have cited are inherent or irreversible. I have spent nearly 30 years of my life in the business of journalism, and with luck, I’ll get 30 more. I love the business and the people who work in it.

My experience as White House press secretary confirmed what I always have known:

Reporters and curious, aggressive, eager to learn, and interested in ideas. They share many of the frustrations I have mentioned this evening. They want to range wider, dig deeper and explore more broadly than they can today. They hate censorship. They love what they do. They see it as a noble calling. They want to get better at their jobs, and they want to grind their competitors into dust.

They know the public has become sick of vicious political discourse and the media who pass it on. They know the country teems with new kinds of stories, incredible innovations, novel ways of attacking the problems we all confront.

But everyone needs to realize that the days of the old-fashioned newsroom are over. It’s a different world out there — wilder, more competitive, and much less predictable than even a decade ago.

Rather than cursing innovation, journalists need to embrace it. They need to get out of their cubicles and plunge into the task that drew most of us into the business in the first place — the challenge of engaging a chaotic world filled with willful fellow human beings; a world of joy and agony; of triumph and crushing failure; a world united by love and atomized by hatreds and aggression,

The democratic media provide new tools for examining our world, new competitors for reporting about that world, and new reminders to the press establishment that markets really do work — and people want better than they’re getting.

Icome not to bury journalism, but to celebrate and challenge it. It’s a cliché that every crisis presents an opportunity, but it’s true: The democratization of the media is a good thing. We now face competition from all quarters — including from people who have specialized expertise that journalists lack. We ought to welcome the new participants in the game and learn from them. They should do the same with us.

There’s an old boast in the business — that the job of ajournalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The thing is, we never realized that we were becoming The Comfortable — with good pay, job security, and access to movers and shakers all around the
world. We need to cast off our coziness — venture away from safe stories and presumptions and into the wilderness of new topics, new ideas and new sources of information.

In that quest lies the possibility of fulfillment and joy — and the hope of keeping alive the text and the spirit of the First Amendment.


8 posted on 11/03/2007 2:10:15 PM PDT by CHICAGOFARMER ( “If you're not ready to die for it, put the word ''freedom'' out of your vocabulary.” – Malcolm X)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Enchante
[Tony Snow]: "Subsequent surveys have indicated a similar spread in party affiliation, which makes the Washington Press Corps the most reliable Democratic voting bloc in the nation."
9 posted on 11/03/2007 2:10:58 PM PDT by Enchante (Democrat terror-fighting motto: "BLEAT - CHEAT - RETREAT - DEFEAT")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: SandRat
Love Tony,s comments. Right on target, but I’m afraid the left bank media just doesn't get it.

Let the boycott continue. Hit them in the wallet!

10 posted on 11/03/2007 2:13:53 PM PDT by TUX
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

Must read later *bump*


11 posted on 11/03/2007 2:24:51 PM PDT by GBA ( God Bless America!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TUX; Buckhead
The democratization of the media is a good thing. We now face competition from all quarters — including from people who have specialized expertise that journalists lack.

A slightly referenced salute to Captain's Quarters, Buckhead, and LGF perhaps?

12 posted on 11/03/2007 2:27:35 PM PDT by Mr_Moonlight
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

As always, Tony hits his audience with the truth in a non-confrontational, sometimes humorous fashion. Too bad, those that most need to hear/read this won’t or won’t understand it if they do.

Many thanks Tony for all you’ve done.


13 posted on 11/03/2007 2:36:14 PM PDT by Vermonter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

Thank you for telling us of this. Of course, as you pointed out, the media has thin skin and as of this moment, I have not heard one word of this. But then I seldom listen to the pretty people reading someone elses notes.


14 posted on 11/03/2007 2:52:49 PM PDT by tillacum
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Enchante; Tony Snow
There’s an old boast in the business – that the job of a journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The thing is, we never realized that we were becoming The Comfortable – with good pay, job security, and access to movers and shakers all around the world. We need to cast off our coziness — venture away from safe stories and presumptions and into the wilderness of new topics, new ideas and new sources of information.

Well said, TonySnow.

15 posted on 11/03/2007 2:56:15 PM PDT by GOPJ (If Hillary can't stand up to fellow democrats, she has NO business being on the world stage...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

If anything, he’s too nice to them. Understandable, of course. If you want to persuade people, you need to reach out and stroke them.

But I suspect the narcissistic leftist bigots who control the press are too lost to reason to listen, even to these toned-down charges and mild complaints.


16 posted on 11/03/2007 3:00:42 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

bump good to see Tony still going.


17 posted on 11/03/2007 3:03:08 PM PDT by Captain Beyond (The Hammer of the gods! (Just a cool line from a Led Zep song))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

Wow! I wonder if he got a standing ovation?


18 posted on 11/03/2007 3:12:05 PM PDT by flynmudd (Proud Navy Mom to OSSA Blalock-USS Ramage DDG61)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: CHICAGOFARMER

Excellent!!


19 posted on 11/03/2007 3:59:35 PM PDT by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: clinkclink

bumping to read later


20 posted on 11/03/2007 4:03:27 PM PDT by clinkclink
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: CHICAGOFARMER

Thank you!


21 posted on 11/03/2007 4:18:15 PM PDT by MEG33 (GOD BLESS OUR ARMED FORCES)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

Way to go Tony!

You nailed it.


22 posted on 11/03/2007 4:25:52 PM PDT by FMBass ("Now that I'm sober I watch a lot of news"- Garofalo from Coulter's "Treason")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SunTzuWu

Ping.


23 posted on 11/03/2007 4:29:37 PM PDT by SunTzuWu
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

This is a classic analysis from one who has experienced the subject.

Save, treasure, and use.


24 posted on 11/03/2007 4:47:59 PM PDT by mtntop3
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Freee-dame; Obadiah; Mind-numbed Robot; Zacs Mom; A.Hun; johnny7; The Spirit Of Allegiance; ...
not out of malice toward the right
Teddy Roosevelt said, "it is not the critic who counts," but journalism is nothing but criticism. "The man who is actually in the arena" tries to win credit by running businesses or the military or the police; journalists simply second guess to deny them their due. And they give positive labels ("progressive" or "liberal" or "moderate") to politicians and activists who agree with (are part of) the critic's agenda.

It is not necessary to have a tin foil hat to discern that journalism does have an animus against the right. They are natural antagoinists.


25 posted on 11/03/2007 5:34:09 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters except PR.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: AdmSmith; Berosus; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; KlueLass; ...
Ping!
26 posted on 11/03/2007 6:07:49 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Profile updated Monday, October 22, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

We love you, Tony. Be well.


27 posted on 11/03/2007 6:08:43 PM PDT by Faith
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat
Quoting Tony Snow.

In fact, the average Joe is far less susceptible to shabby fads than the PC police, who have become so ubiquitous and whose ministrations have become so absurd that even my elementary -school children have been making fun of them.....

It would be nice to hear Tony subbing for Rush Limbaugh- that is when Rush takes the odd afternoon off.

28 posted on 11/03/2007 6:48:45 PM PDT by Peter Libra
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: conservatism_IS_compassion
There´s an old boast in the business — that the job of a journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The thing is, we never realized that we were becoming The Comfortable — with good pay, job security, and access to movers and shakers all around the world. We need to cast off our coziness — venture away from safe stories and presumptions and into the wilderness of new topics, new ideas and new sources of information.

In that quest lies the possibility of fulfillment and joy — and the hope of keeping alive the text and the spirit of the First Amendment.

The greatest of the new media aren't concerned with "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable". They are busy working, producing, searching for truth to free their life from those afflicting them.

29 posted on 11/03/2007 7:22:57 PM PDT by PGalt
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: PGalt
There´s an old boast in the business — that the job of a journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The thing is, we never realized that we were becoming The Comfortable — with good pay, job security, and access to movers and shakers all around the world.
It is patent that whoso is able to "afflict the comfortable" without fear is himself most comfortable of all.

30 posted on 11/04/2007 2:49:56 AM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters except PR.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: conservatism_IS_compassion

BTTT


31 posted on 11/04/2007 2:58:57 AM PST by E.G.C.
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: SandRat
Tony is ominous. Why do the majority of other journalists not get it?...because they don’t want to.

It will take a few more generations and a cleaning out of the dullards before we see genius like Tony's across the board in the media. Some people are just so slow.

32 posted on 11/04/2007 4:28:52 AM PST by Earthdweller (All reality is based on faith in something.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

nice article - ping to myself to read fully later


33 posted on 11/04/2007 4:42:32 AM PST by Puddleglum
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: capt. norm

bump


34 posted on 11/04/2007 7:54:45 AM PST by bubman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Bender2

I hope he comes back to FR now that he has left the whitehouse.


35 posted on 11/04/2007 6:33:23 PM PST by I got the rope
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

ping for later read.


36 posted on 11/04/2007 6:42:28 PM PST by Ramius (Personally, I give us... one chance in three. More tea?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: conservatism_IS_compassion

BTTT


37 posted on 11/05/2007 4:17:48 AM PST by PGalt
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

Bump


38 posted on 11/05/2007 4:58:55 AM PST by Obadiah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat
We now face competition from all quarters — including from people who have specialized expertise that journalists lack.

The mistake that the MSM has made is that they won't even ask those with the expertise. Maybe they don't have time, they don't really care about a correct answer/analysis, or they think they know everything already.

39 posted on 11/05/2007 5:57:49 AM PST by TankerKC (You don't have to believe everything you think.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

BTTT


40 posted on 11/05/2007 6:38:41 AM PST by SweetCaroline (***Your own healing is the Greatest Message of Hope to others!***)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

Bump and self ping for later read


41 posted on 11/05/2007 9:22:36 AM PST by TenthAmendmentChampion (Global warming is to Revelations as the theory of evolution is to Genesis.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mr_Moonlight

The Milblogs come immediately to mind.....


42 posted on 11/05/2007 11:10:54 AM PST by Uriah_lost ("I don't apologize for the United States of America," -Fred D Thompson)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: TankerKC
...or they think they know everything already is the most likely answer.
43 posted on 11/05/2007 3:12:10 PM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: nutcracker

bookmark


44 posted on 11/05/2007 3:23:20 PM PST by nutcracker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson