The Beltway Media: Watchdogs? More Like Lapdogs

Are “beltway media” types a guardian of democracy, or are they simply interested in maintaining privilege? Are they watchdogs or lapdogs?

watch·dog — n. — One who serves as a guardian or protector against waste, loss, or illegal practices.

lap dog — n. — One eager to do another’s bidding, especially in order to maintain a position of privilege or favor.

The Washington D.C. establishment media is less about journalism, more about access. If a “journalist” fears losing access to power because of his or her reporting, that is a journalist doing his or her job. If the top priority of a reporter is to foster their access to power, exactly what kind of journalism should we expect? Would their reporting represent an honest account of the facts, or would it instead gloss over incriminating details if it means continued access to power?

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the NSA leak story, could be pushing an agenda, but I trust his style of journalism more than I trust the mainstream media. That’s because Greenwald is unaffected by criticism from the establishment, and he’s unconcerned with insider access if that means compromising his duty as a journalist. As Greenwald explains it:

Glenn Greenwald - photo by Gage SkidmoreErik Wemple Blog — Some of what is driving this hostility from some media figures is personal bitterness. Some of it is resentment over my having been able to break these big stories not despite, but because of, my deliberate breaching of the conventions that rule their world.

But most of it is what I have long criticized them for most: they are far more servants to political power than adversarial watchdogs over it, and what provokes their rage most is not corruption on the part of those in power (they don’t care about that) but rather those who expose that corruption, especially when the ones bringing transparency are outside of, even hostile to, their incestuous media circles.

They’re just courtiers doing what courtiers have always done: defending the royal court and attacking anyone who challenges or dissents from it. That’s how they maintain their status and access within it. That’s what courtiers to power, by definition, do.

And that’s why the beltway media types are at their worst, lapdogs, at their best, watchdogs with no bark.

photo by Gage Skidmore

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