New website

In the last few years I have not posted on this site which marked a movement for me away from blogging to the use of twitter and short form blogging on tumblr where I keep a number of bookmarking sites on different topics. This was in part driven by engagement with these new social media tools but it also due to time pressures as I embraced the final years of my PhD research.

I have recently cleaned up the site as an archive but in future I will will be posting at marcusodonnell.comScreenshot_13_01_13_12_12_PM

Incestuous Amplification

The wisdom from political commentators last night seemed to be that Rumsfeld would be given a reprieve in spite of the election results. The history of the Bush regime shows heel digging as a common response to critique. But maybe the decider has just had enough this time. He admitted to reporters today that he lied when asked about Rumie last week because it was the only way to get them to go onto the next question in pre-election week. No one has made much of this admission – it seems that it is suddenly acceptable for the president to lie to reporters when it is politically expedient.

The rules of the political-media game used to be that you could obfiscate and avoid but never lie. But Bush seems quite happy to admit to this lie and expects everyone to understand its necessity.

Lying in politics takes different forms it is not often presented as blatantly as this. One of its forms is what John Stauber calls “incestuous amplification” – the repetition and reinforcement of political spin by a tight cadre of players. WMD is the prime example. But a lot of the talk during Rumsfeld’s resignation today is similar, even people like McCain who have had huge disagreements with him over war strategy felt the need to compliment him.

Rumsfeld himself, of course, praised the President:

“The great respect that I have for your leadership, Mr. President, in this little-understood, unfamiliar war– the first war of the 21st century. ” Rumsfeld said. “it is not well-known, It was not well-understood. It is complex for people to comprehend, and I know with certainty that over time the contributions you’ve made will be recorded by history”

The first draft of such history is already being written and as we all know is no where near as complimentary. I am currently reading Woodward’s State of Denial and “dysfunctional” – the word that everyone is using – does not even cover the half of it. Rumsfeld comes across as a deeply neurotic control freak and George – I go with my gut – Bush as something like the Moousketeer-in-chief.

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More than craft plus

Stumbled across NYU’s Zoned for Debate: section again while buzzing around the web. Lots of good stuff. This from NYU prof Ellen Willis struck a chord:

The first step toward reinventing the journalism curriculum is to recognize that serious journalism–in all its genres and forms–is in itself an intellectual activity. While it may draw on academic knowledge, it has its own distinct character as an intellectual enterprise: it is a transdisciplinary inquiry into the present, which takes place not in scholarly journals but in a non-specialized public conversation. A serious journalist is by definition that figure so much discussed in the academy—the public intellectual. Craft is integral to all kinds of journalism—as it is, for that matter, to scholarship—but it is a means to an end: promoting a rich, nuanced, complex and diverse public conversation on contemporary affairs. How can journalism education contribute to this end? This is the fundamental question Columbia and all journalism programs must address.

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