From Bill Moyers Journal:
Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald are the first recipients of the Park Center for Independent Media Izzy Award (named for I.F. Stone) — named "Pillars of independent media, chosen for the award, because of their journalistic courage and persistence in confronting conventional wisdom and official deception."
"I think the way the media works is they show the spectrum of opinion between the Democrats and the Republicans in Washington. Often that is very narrow. But the fact is, the majority of Americans fall outside of that opinion." -Amy Goodman
"It's not even some sort of Machiavellian or conspiratorial effort, sometimes, to exclude certain opinions. It's actually the fact that reporters — and media stars — and corporate and establishment journalists are so embedded into the establishment...That they're so completely insular and out of touch from what public opinion actually is. And polls show that huge numbers of issues and positions that are held by large numbers of Americans are ones that are virtually never heard in our media discussions." - Glenn Greenwald
Transcript below the fold.
BILL MOYERS: Glenn, you were too young to know Izzy Stone, but do you feel, as he said about himself, lonely and marginalized for being independent?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yes and no. In one sense, it's clearly the case that if you are a critic of political power and the media establishment that there are going to be lots of opportunities that you end up not being able to take advantage of. There are going to be lots of invitations that ordinarily you might receive that you end up not getting. Lots of people who shun you. Particularly the targets of your critique. I think that's quite natural. And so, in that sense, I think if you tip, if you purposely remain on the outside of establishment power, in order to critique it, there are going to be lots of episodes that produce a form of loneliness. Which I think is actually quite gratifying and rewarding, and a hallmark of the fact that you're doing the right thing.
But I think one thing that has changed is that there are now lots of other mechanisms, certainly as compared as to when he was writing, that enable like-minded people who are dissatisfied and angry with the establishment to find one another. And to realize that they're not nearly as rare, in terms of what it is that they think, as perhaps even 10, 15 years ago, when there was a monopoly on political discourse.
AMY GOODMAN: You're not alone when you think about the awesome responsibility we have as journalists. With a microphone going to where the silence is. Going to where most people would want to go to ask questions and they can't. So, all of those people are there. And then standing on the shoulders of people like Izzy Stone, I.F. Stone, and all those who feel it's so critical that we have a sacred mission as journalists. There's a reason why our profession, journalism, is the only one explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution. Because we're supposed to be the check and balance on power. That's our job.
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, what I think is interesting is to look at what journalists, establishment journalists, who work in the largest corporations in the country, in the media division, say about what their role is. In order to understand how the reporting on Iraq was done. How it's done on the financial crisis. Last month Howard Fineman, the "Newsweek" reporter, and MSNBC contributor, wrote an article in which a column, in which he said that the establishment is now worried that Barack Obama is not up to the job. And he made clear that he was speaking on behalf of the establishment, as a member of it. And he said that the establishment, to the extent it exists in America, is now comprised of three stools. The financiers on Wall Street, political elites in Washington, and media stars in the New York/Washington corridor. And there's a "Newsweek" cover story by Evan Thomas, who's a long time Washington insider reporter. And it's concerning Paul Krugman's status as a critic of Obama from the Left. And in this article Evan Thomas, I thought quite revealingly declared himself, as well, like Howard Fineman did, to be a member of the establishment persuasion, as he called it. And what he said was that, by definition, members of the establishment are devoted to preserving the existing order. The prevailing status quo. Keeping things the way they are.
BILL MOYERS: Yeah, actually.
GLENN GREENWALD: Defending institutional prerogatives.
BILL MOYERS: I actually brought his quote. "Protecting traditional institutions, can be healthy and useful, stabilizing, and reassuring." I admire his honesty, but I can't imagine either of you saying anything like that.
GLENN GREENWALD: If you only speak to a very narrow slice of people. If you spend most of your time in Washington only speaking to political elites in both parties, or corporate executives and lobbyists, you have a very distorted picture of what public opinion is. I mean, a lot of times both political parties will agree on a certain position that a huge number of Americans, often even majorities actually reject. And yet, if all you're doing is talking to people in political power and political and financial elite, you will believe that the range of opinion is much narrower than it actually is. And so, it's not even some sort of Machiavellian or conspiratorial effort, sometimes, to exclude certain opinions. It's actually the fact that reporters and media stars and corporate and establishment journalists are so embedded into the establishment as a cultural and sociological matter. That they're so completely insular and out of touch from what public opinion actually is. And polls show that huge numbers of issues and positions that are held by large numbers of Americans are ones that are virtually never heard in our media discussions.
AMY GOODMAN: I think the way the media works is they show the spectrum of opinion between the Democrats and the Republicans in Washington. Often that is very narrow. You look at the lead up to the invasion in Iraq, the core, the major Democrats joined with the Republicans in enabling that. And you look at now with health care, the same thing. But the fact is, the majority of Americans fall outside of that opinion. And it's our role in the media not just to bring you that spectrum, but to, well, provide — I see the media as a huge kitchen table that we all sit around and debate and discuss these critical issues. To open up. That's what the American people want. And it's our responsibility to do it.
BILL MOYERS: When Tim Russert died, the long time and very popular moderator of "Meet the Press," and a friend of mine, by the way. The political and media elites in Washington turned out for him in mass. Do you realize that's not going to happen to you when your time comes?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, but, you know, I'm actually, I consider that to be a good thing. I mean, I found it almost oxymoronic. That Tim Russert was constantly held up as the symbol of what an adversarial journalist would be. That he was supposedly this great thorn in the side of power. And yet, his celebrity was so great that when he died it was almost treated as though it was a death of Princess Diana, and everyone rushed forward in order to from the highest political elites to media stars to treat him as what he, in fact, was. Which was a celebrity. And if you look at what Tim Russert actually did there were a couple of actually interesting episodes where not his image, but the reality of what he did was unmasked, during the Lewis Libby trial, in particular. The trial of Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff for obstruction of justice. That involved a lot of journalists, because they were participants in the effort to unmask Valerie Plame Wilson and to smear Joe Wilson. And what he said during that trial, under oath, was they asked him, well, when you have a conversation with one of your sources, with the government official, when is it that you decide that it's confidential. And when is it that you can report it? And what he said was, well, actually, when I have a conversation with the government official, I consider that conversation presumptively confidential. And I will disclose it only if they authorize me to do so. And it was it was an extraordinary revelation, because if you talk to government officials, and you only disclose to the public things that you know, when they allow you or give you permission to do so, what you're really describing is the role of a propagandist, not of a journalist. And yet, that was what you know, Tim Russert in many ways was. That's what his celebrity was based in.
BILL MOYERS: In fact, Dick Cheney's P.R. fellow said that "Meet the Press" was the ideal format for Cheney to control the message. What does that tell you about government and the media inside Washington?
AMY GOODMAN: That media is broken right now. And I think the embedding process has brought the media to an all time low. You have reporters embedded in the front lines of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. What about being embedded in Iraqi hospitals and Afghan communities? In the peace movement around the world? And not only the problem of embedding in troops. But the problem is being embedded in the establishment.
We occupy an uncomfortable position. We're supposed to be outside. It's not one that gets a lot of perks, it's one that makes journalism so important to the functioning of a democratic society. Now, I'll tell you, especially around issues around war. And we see just the failing, once again, in the press, not bringing up questions about the expansion of war in Afghanistan. And the same way that questions weren't asked in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq.
You can watch the full interview here.