I was reading Froomkin
today about the Libby verdict, and the media's reaction to that verdict.
As you read through the commentaries and editorials, you get a sense from the various news outlets, reporters and pundits that it actually matters what they think. And historically it would. Afterall, reporting and editorializing is a keystone to public opinion which has a direct influence on voting. This is the fundamental action of the "fourth estate", and has been respected by those in power since the inception of our country.
Bush has changed that and the Libby verdict, and impending pardon, will be handled just the same as anything else. Bush's administration has routinely approached the media in one of two ways. First, they've cozied up to reporters, giving sometimes extraordinary access, when it suits their message, political self-interest and when they can be assured they'll be treated favorably. This first aspect of media/government relations is not particularly new or unique albeit Bush, with the willing cooperation of the media, has taken it to an all-time new high.
The second way they've related to media is a bit more unique. When Bushies are not needing the press, they've approached them with utter contempt. This disrespect is, I suspect, their genuine feeling about the media and those beliefs have been abundantly clear. When the media has "put on pressure", Bush has responded with stubborn disregard, and completely ignored it. This should come as no surprise as the Bushies have had the same attitude toward voters which I suspect is really at the heart of the issue. Voters are to be marketed to when needed, and ignored when not needed. This fundamental arrogance towards voters, and by proxy their representative voices in the media, has always been an element of GOP leadership. But the Bushies have been brazenly open in their contempt and their willingness to dishonor democracy.
When you really really look at it, the term "media whores" is not hyperbole. The relationship of using "it" (even occasionally paying for "it") when I want to and being utterly contemptuous when I'm finished is exactly a description of a prostitute/john relationship. It's a relationship of mutual need .... and mutual contempt. I guess by extension this is the same description you could apply to Bush and voters, and I think why I get so absolutely angry when it happens, and even angrier when I see Bush supporters lay down for the man.
I don't really know how many in the media "get it" yet. Surely some do but continue to do their jobs as if they matter. As with most things Bush a larger concern of mine is the precedent set and the temptation by future leaders to build on the "progress" made by Bush. This can only happen with tacit approval of the voters who must find a way to hold these guys accountable .... to reassert that the power of leadership indeed derives from the people. If that accountability does not happen here, now, with Bush, it will have to happen at a later time with the likelihood of much more damage having been done.