We are at a pivotal point—in this country’s history, to be sure, but also in the role the media will play in that history. And our politics have certainly grown too complex for a Jacksonian block of direct democracy to be either entirely legitimate or entirely effective. As Jay Rosen pointed out in a Pressthink post yesterday, nothing is solid—or, really, sacred—when it comes to the relationship between the president and the press. That relationship is consistently in flux, and is often subject to the whims of the president himself in terms of how much—or how little—power the press will wield in the transaction. The Bush administration may have spent eight years attempting to delegitimize the people who would tell its tales; the only thing worse than abusing the press, however, is ignoring it altogether.

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.