PressThink: Bush to Press: "You're Assuming That You Represent the Public. I Don't Accept That."
From Jay Rosen's Press Think blog, an interesting examination of the power of one administration to redefine the press and its role in society. No longer is journalism the "fourth estate;" no longer does it deserve to be thought of as an advocate for the people's interests; rather it is looked upon as merely another "special interest" with a product to sell looking for a set of conditions conducive to selling that product.
In this kind of environment, a president can usurp the paternalistic role of gatekeeper of his nation's information. He can decide what you need to know. And he can decide what you don't need to know.
And the reporter then said: Well, how do you then know, Mr. President, what the public is thinking? And Bush, without missing a beat said: You're making a powerful assumption, young man. You're assuming that you represent the public. I don't accept that.
Which is a powerful statement. And if Bush believes it (a possibility not to be dismissed) then we must credit the president with an original idea, or the germ of one. Bush's people have developed it into a thesis, which they explained to Auletta, who told it to co-host Brooke Gladstone:
That's his attitude. And when you ask the Bush people to explain that attitude, what they say is: We don't accept that you have a check and balance function. We think that you are in the game of "Gotcha." Oh, you're interested in headlines, and you're interested in conflict. You're not interested in having a serious discussion... and exploring things.