As much as I admired the President for going to Bagdhad on Thanksgiving, there was a bad taste left in my mouth about the real reasons and the complicity of the journalists who were sworn to secrecy when they were taken along. I kept wondering if the president would have bothered to go to visit the troops had the press corps not been along. Just in asking the journalists to join him, the answer is probably not. Jay Rosen says it this way:
The whole notion of the trip as an independently existing thing that could be “covered” is transparently false, as the White House warning to journalists demonstrates. If word leaked out, the trip was to be cancelled–it would no longer exist–and the airplane would turn around and head back to Washington. That does not mean the trip was illegitimate to undertake or to treat as news; but it does mean that its potential legitimacy as news event lies outside the logic of “things happen and we cover them” or “the president took decisive action and the press reported it.”
Later, he quotes Rick McArthur, the publisher of Harpers:
The remarkable thing about it is the press – the White House press corps anyway, has now turned into…has turned to full time press agency for the President of the United States. The proper thing to do in this case is to refuse the secrecy agreement and say we’re not going to be participants in a photo opportunity, which is merely done to help your re-election campaign, and if that aborts the trip, well, it aborts the trip.
This is just another example of how mainstream journalists are failing us in their willingness to compromise the intergrity required of the profession. As long as we report on all that is staged, might not just about everything be staged? I wonder what my journalists would say…