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See?! That Bandwidth Is So Expensive Sometimes I Have to Choose Between the Blog and Medicine | Main | Won't Back Down: NBC Airs New Unsubstantiated Koran-Desecration Rumors
May 19, 2005

Terry "Have You No Decency, Sir?" Moran Gets Slapped Up By Hugh Hewitt

Moran was the guy who asked Scott McClellan if he was now the editor in chief of Al-Newsweek, and how he could dare to presume to lecture the magazine that it might want to verify stories that would inflame Muslim passions before running them.

Moran further says the White House has no right to criticize the press. That whole dissent/accountability thingee seems to run in only one direction. After a radio interview with Hugh (which, to be fair, Moran was sort of gutsy to agree to):

...listeners and emailers reacted negatively to the arrogance that seeped from almost every answer Moran gave and to the press corps's hostility to the president and to the idea that the president's spokesman could legitimately call upon--not order, but urge--Newsweek to do more to reverse the damage done by their story. Here's one small bit of Moran's view of the world:
I don't think the media should be immune from criticism. I think the elected leader of the United States has his or her hands full, and plenty of things for the elected leader of the United States to do. I think media criticism is a great thing. I think what you do is a great thing. I do not think it's a great thing for the president's spokesperson to begin instructing the media how to go about its business.

The White House press corps often calls on the president to comment on--and criticize--everything under the sun, from Enron to the Saudis to the Israelis to you name it. But Moran's demand for immunity from White House cajoling, and the undeniable air of superiority Moran and most White House press types project is damning evidence that the elite media have gone from purveyors of news to Guardians of Truth.

Moran really thinks that the press ought not to be criticized by the president or his spokesmen. In making his demand for a special status above that of every American, Moran at least gave honest voice to the elite media's view of itself: above every citizen, above every elected official, above, well, everything.


Old media is acting a lot like old royalty.

It's all worth quoting, but fair use, alas, doesn't permit that. Read the whole thing.

Hewitt also rounds up blogger reaction to all this.

And then make sure you read the full transcript, which is pretty damn compelling. Some of the best bits after the jump, but it's all worth reading. Moran accuses Hewitt of practicing "demogoguery," and seems strangley uninterested (shock!) in Kerry's failure to release his full military records, as he promised.

And those aren't even the best bits.

TM: Not at all, no. Not at all.

HH: The interpretation I give to that end, and the one that followed, Elizabeth Bumiller, is that you were astounded that the White House might expect the American media to cover the American military in a favorable light.

TM: I disagree with that interpretation. What I, in fact, agree with the substance of what Scott McClellan was saying, that it would be a good thing for Newsweek to come out try to undo some of the damage that was done by its report. If you notice what I said was, do you think it's appropriate, from that podium, speaking for the president of the United States, to instruct an American magazine as to how to go about its business. And what I was trying to do was draw a line that Scott McClellan agreed with. If you notice later on that you're absolutely right. It's not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report. I was just trying to draw that line, that there may be things which are right for the media to do, but that I think that whether you are liberal or conservative, you don't want the government telling the media to do.

HH: Now, Terry, that's just silly. I teach Constitutional law, and I've been a professor doing this for ten years. And when the president's spokesperson suggests something, he's not instructing. He's not commanding. He's using the bully pulpit. And for you to react like he was is silly.

TM: And maybe, being a professor, you're teaching the law. I'm living it. I'm living the First Amendment, and let me explain to you that there is a difference between instructing someone to do someone, or telling somebody to do someone, and someone using the bully pulpit to essentially rally the president's political supporters to pressure the media to do something.

HH: Absolutely, and it's completely legitimate. Why should the media, about whom there is great contempt and distrust, and who just caused the death of sixteen innocent people, as well as the destruction of American interest abroad, be immune from criticism from the elected leader of the United States?

TM: I don't think the media should be immune from criticism. I think the elected leader of the United States has his or her hands full, and plenty of things for the elected leader of the United States to do. I think media criticism is a great thing. I think what you do is a great thing. I do not think it's a great thing for the president's spokesperson to begin instructing the media how to go about its business.

HH: He did not. Terry, he did not. That's trying to play a victim card here. You're not the victim. The victim's the American military. The victims are the dead people in Afghanistan.

TM: Agreed.


HH: But there's nothing wrong with the president saying that. I'd like you to explain for me what is wrong with the president himself, not his spokesperson, but if the president came down to the press room and said, I think Newsweek ought to get on their knees in front of the American people and beg their forgiveness for causing deaths of innocent people, and injuring our position in the world. What would be wrong with that?

TM: That, in my judgment, would be demagoguery.

HH: Why?

TM: If the president of the United States came before the American people and said that American publication ought to get down on its knees and beg forgiveness, you don't think that's demagoguery, then you've been teaching Constitutional law too long.


HH: Why are you guys so thin-skinned? Why don't you understand the contempt the White House press corps is held in by the American public?

TM: Well, I do understand that. I understand it both on the right, people who don't want any kind of challenge to the president they support, and people on the left who think we went easy on the president, and allowed him...

HH: Terry, wait. Time out. Where do you get this, don't want any kind of challenge to the president they support. They're just sick and tired of journalists with big heads and little resumes, acting like they know how the world works. Let me read you from Major K...


HH: Let me ask you something. Major K, a major in the Army who is reporting from Iraq on his blog all the time says, all this being said, it is no small wonder that a gulf has opened between journalists and the general public. I think even the most John Q. Sixpacks know when they are being fed a line of blank blank blank. My brother called me a journalist once during a conversation about this blog. I was offended. That is a general impression among the American military about the media, Terry. Where does that come from?

TM: It comes from, I think, a huge gulf of misunderstanding, for which I lay plenty of blame on the media itself. There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it's very dangerous. That's different from the media doing it's job of challenging the exercise of power without fear or favor.

HH: I agree with that completely. I just...I'm glad to hear you say that. That's refreshing.


HH: Are there members of the White House Press Corps, Terry, who actually hate Bush?

TM: I would say the answer to that is yes.

HH: And what percentage of them, do you think that amounts to?

TM: Uh, small, I would say, but some big fish.

HH: What's your guess about the percentage of the White House Press Corps that voted for Kerry?

TM: Oh, very high. Very, very high.

HH: 95%?

TM: Huh?

HH: 95%?

TM: No, I don't think that high. But I would certainly say, you know, it's hard for me, but I'd guess it's in...upwards of 70, maybe higher. You know, it's hard for me to say, but I would say very, very high.

HH: Who'd you vote for?

TM: Well, that's a secret ballot, isn't it?

HH: Well, it is. I'm just asking, though.

TM: I'd prefer not to answer that.

HH: I know you would, but...

TM: It might surprise you, but I'd prefer not to.

HH: No, I'd love to know. I think why does the media resist the idea that, you know, it matters to tell people...it's not going to change my assessment of your reporting on a given basis.

TM: ...which is pretty low. I would say for this reason. Because then everything I would say would get colored by whatever, whoever I voted for, and I would say this, too. The questions I ask, and you know, I can be faulted for all kinds of, you know, all kinds of things. But I would not necessarily make the mistake in assuming that I shared the assumption that underlies the question. Sometimes, I think a question just needs to be asked, because it's a legitimate question that some segment of the citizenry might have of the president of the United States. And so, I try and frame the question as aggressively as I can, for the question's sake, not for mine.

HH: Couldn't agree with you more. I still think that journalists would be better served by transparancy as to their political beliefs and votes, but that's your call.

TM: You may be right. I mean they do that in many other countries.

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posted by Ace at 02:53 PM

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