A new low

It's somewhat appalling that a fairly childish flap over when Obama will address Congress about jobs (employment, not Steve) is the lead story on NYTimes.com and elsewhere. For what it's worth, this will be a useless political Rorschach test for all those who spin it; liberals will obsess on Congress dissing Obama, and conservatives will obsess on Obama dissing Nancy Reagan, or whatever. The only reason I'm even mentioning here is the play this flap is getting demonstrates the complete and utter vapidity of our political journalism, and that was the subject of a very worthwhile speech given the other day by one of the best media critics around, Jay Rosen of NYU.

Here's one snippet, although I highly recommend reading the entire thing:

In the United States, most of the people who report on politics aren’t trying to advance an ideology. But I think they have an ideology, a belief system that holds their world together and tells them what to report about. It’s not left, or right, or center, really. It’s trickier than that. The name I’ve given to the ideology of our political press is savviness. And I see it in Australia too. When you watch political journalists on a roundtable program summing up the week and looking ahead, what they are usually performing for us is… their savviness.

So let me explain what I mean by that term.  In politics, our journalists believe, it is better to be savvy than it is to be honest or correct on the facts. It’s better to be savvy than it is to be just, good, fair, decent, strictly lawful, civilized, sincere, thoughtful or humane.  Savviness is what journalists admire in others. Savvy is what they themselves dearly wish to be. (And to be unsavvy is far worse than being wrong.)

Savviness is that quality of being shrewd, practical, hyper-informed, perceptive, ironic, “with it,” and unsentimental in all things political. And what is the truest mark of savviness? Winning, of course! Or knowing who the winners are.

Digby -- of "What Digby said" fame -- has more on this:

That explains a lot. The vapidity is a result of timidity --- the fear of being biased. I would say that this one is the result of years of hardcore right wing public relations. They spent decades relentlessly attacking the media for being liberally biased and the result has been an aversion to any kind of reporting that might betray a point of view. Liberals have failed to properly combat this and the press is now so thoroughly indoctrinated that it might not work anyway.But this one is, in my view, the consequence of a concerted propaganda effort. Lessons learned.

Getting back to what Rosen said, I'm not sure who the winners are, but I know who the losers are.