The fallacy of ‘access’


When I refer to The Press, I mean David Fahrenthold. Robert Costa. Like that. Men and women who sift through public documents and interview Important People on the record, often embarrassing them. Chris Cillizza, Mark Halperin, and Chuck Todd are courtiers, not press. They whine the loudest because without access they have no MSNBC shows or, indeed, jobs that don’t involve selling fishing equipment at a Bass store. Josh Marshall:

Trump is the most unpopular incoming President in American history. We only have data on this going back a few decades. But there’s little reason to think any President in previous decades or centuries has been this unpopular. Indeed, he’s getting less popular as he approaches his inauguration. People need to have a bit more confidence in themselves, their values and their country. As soon as you realize that the Trump wants to profit from the presidency and that the Republicans are focused and helping him do so, all the questions become easier to answer and the path forward more clear. His threats against the press are the same. He’s threatening to take away things the press doesn’t truly need in order to instill a relationship of dominance.

There’s nothing more undignified and enervating than fretting about whether the President-Elect will brand real news ‘fake news’ or worrying whether his more authoritarian supporters can be convinced to believe – pleaded with, instructed to, prevailed upon – actual factual information. The answer to attacks on journalism is always more journalism.

Real journalism is dull, a continual frustration – and thrilling when the pieces come together. Sometimes it fails to produce the consequences we want: Fahrenthold’s stories on Donald Trump’s finances didn’t keep residents of west Pennsylvania from voting for him. But the information becomes part of the scrim.

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