Moyers discusses transparency, new media, change

Courtesy of PBS and Bill Moyers, a refreshingly grown-up conversation with Jay Rosen and Glenn Greenwald about politics, the national media, and the potential change that Obama might bring to the entire paradigm. While the interview is long and covers the topic from many different angles, several times it was emphasized how transparency and the two-way communication made possible by the Internet are really the only maens by which the new president can deliver on his most hope-inspiring campaign promises.

JAY ROSEN: The real excitement of democratic politics is that something new can come into the world, because we decided it. Because there was an election. [...] Because not only are there new people in the government, but there are new realities, especially in technology. The whole transparency revolution of "let's make the business of government radically open to inspection, not just in the establishment, to everyone in the country, to everyone in the world." I think that can have very powerful effects on politics.

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BILL MOYERS: What if all those people out there who supported Obama through the internet, actually used that technology to send him a message? You know, "Wait a minute. This is going the wrong way. We expect more of you than this." What would happen?

GLENN GREENWALD: I think that's what's going to have to happen, is his supporters, on whom he relies for his political power, are going to have to be the ones holding him accountable.

JAY ROSEN: The great thing about the internet it that it runs two ways. It's just as good at enabling us to send messages to them as it is for them to tell us. And I think what people have to do is remember the internet runs two ways, and to use it to tell Washington what to do.

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BILL MOYERS: But if Obama stayed true to what people perceived he was saying and being during the campaign, would the press begin to write about that?

JAY ROSEN: They might, if Obama were able to succeed and to show that the rules have changed, and to keep people mobilized, that after a while -- this is the good thing about journalists. After a while, they have to report a different reality.

 

Here we have a president who tapped into a populist message of genuine, dramatic change, who is still a little hamstrung by the way the city he now inhabits has always and continues to operate. But Obama is also counting on people from outside the bubble to give him feedback. His famous fight to keep his BlackBerry (which he ultimately won) was a fight to keep a safety line that would be able to feed him information from outside. He knows he needs to be constantly reminded of the thoughts of people who don't think like people in Washington DC think.

The emphasis on transparency is the reverse notion, that he wants a channel going the other way that reveals to the public what they normally don't ever get a line into or a clear look at.

Even with all of this technology and transparency, though, nothing will change unless the outside changes the inside, unless people use these channels to carry information and communication instead of noise and echoes from inside the bubble chamber.

The full Bill Moyers interview transcript is available at: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/02062009/transcript1.html