There’s Media and Then There’s Media

With news that George Bush tonight will hold his first primetime press conference in a year (you’re outta luck, “O.C.” fans), Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice wonders if the president will be able to stay on his message: Social Security.

The press conference comes after a tempestuous period crammed with huge controversies over the Congress and president’s intervention in the case of the late Terri Shiavo, the furor surrounding House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a controversy over whether the administration was trying to bottle up statistics showing an increase in terrorism, plus the looming prospect that Republicans may use the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster on judicial nominees.

Gandelman also wonders how the press will fare in this rare outing. He asks: Will the press ask the president tough questions? Will reporters insist on doing follow-up questions? And — most tantalizing of all — will Jeff Gannon/James Gurkett be there?

Paradox at The Left Coaster is leaving nothing to chance, spelling out the question in need of an answer tonight:

What I want to know from Bush is this: If reforming Social Security is the cornerstone of your second term and such an urgent issue, how come we never heard about it during Campaign 2004?

Not one journalist has ever asked Bush that question. Bush lied to the entire country horribly during the campaign, lied by an act of omission about what his true agenda was: gutting Social Security. The press corps just sits there.

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest believes that the debate over the Senate filibuster is more than just a fight over a few judicial nominees:

I think the implications of this are disturbing, to say the least. The Republicans are saying they just will not follow the rules of the Senate, because they have the power to say this, and that’s that. Rules will no longer apply. And as I understand it, the Democrats can’t take this to the courts, because separation of powers prevents the courts from getting involved with the internal rules of the Senate. (And if they could take it before the courts, would judges appointed under the Republican rules hear the case …?)

So this is a bigger deal than just a battle over appointing a few judges. This will be a full-blown Constitutional crisis, well beyond the 2000 Supreme Court decision to set aside the election and appoint Bush as president. This will be about the Republicans saying they will just make up the rules as they go along, because they have the power to do so.

A new day is dawning, writes Jeff Jarvis at Buzz Machine, referring to the announcement that Infinity Broadcasting will launch the first-ever podcasting radio station, with content created exclusively by listeners.

This, writes Jarvis, is “big, big news, great news, gratifying news, inevitable news. But it’s still just one mile marker on the road to the future of citizens’ media. And no, kids, we’re not there yet.” But the announcement is symbolic for several reasons:

First, it is big media recognizing that it’s time to listen — and do more than listen: Let the people speak. It is big media recognizing the value of citizens’ media.

Second, it is an admission that the old, one-size-fits-all, top-down, one-way models of programming are broken and the audience can do it better.

Third, it an admission that the old business models are soon to break and that the people can provide more talent for less than the old talent could. It’s nothing less than the economic salvation of old media … if old media is smart enough to financially support citizens’ media and not just exploit it.

We’re not quite sure that music on the radio qualifies as “media,” whatever that is. But if the Infinity experiment expands to, say, the first-ever news program with content created exclusively by listeners, then our ears will perk up.

And, speaking of seizing the moment, Chris Nolan digresses in a post on U.N. ambassador-nominee John Bolton to theorize about the future of Colin Powell, based on Powell’s scheduled appearance driving the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 next month.

I’m telling you, this man is exploring a presidential bid, cozying up to one of the Republicans’ broadest constituencies: NASCAR families and, of course, their Dads, while cutting an independent foreign policy path. Interesting, no?

For the record, last year’s pace car driver was Morgan Freeman. And we still don’t know what his views on the Middle East are.

Susan Q. Stranahan

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.