Brian Lambert, writing at The Same Rowdy Crowd, laments the the state of journalism’s self-congratulatory, clubby order of high-priests-of-information that allowed Rolling Stone to “scoop” the establishment press (or should we say, the more-establishment-y press) on the McChrystal story; the idea that RS beat the NYTimes and the rest of the mainstream/dead-tree/agenda/establishment media to the story mortifies him…
…and strikes him as part of a larger pattern:
As bad/squirrely as McChrystal’s attitude was, as revealed in the Rolling Stone piece, I don’t know that it compares to the spectacular failure of what I facetiously refer to as “business journalism”. Talk about an off-site publicity/fanzine approach coverage. There’s no question the Pentagon and Congress will cut off access in a split second if they think you’re likely to print something negative. But on a Main Street level, where homey little Mom and Pop operations like UnitedHealth, Denny Hecker, Tom Petters, etc. operate, the coverage, until the moment of (shocking!) collapse is invariably one of uncritical reverence and, well, fanzine adoration. Jack that up to the national level and you see prevailing attitude toward AIG, Lehman Brothers, CitiGroup and Goldman, Sachs … prior to the implosion.
In other words, the “gatekeepers”, the Fifth Estate, the institution that it is claimed comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable, the one that constantly tells itself and whomever us us still pay attention that it is what keeps Democracy viable, isn’t doing its job.
So if the “establishment” media don’t actually dig out the hard stories, and exist primarily to get their collective id in the form of Barack Obama or other such sonorous bobbleheads elected to office (and obstruct and defame their party’s opponents), then what early good do any of them serve?
Sullivan links to a blog post by ex-Marine and award-winning writer, Davis Morris, who says, “It’s an unfortunate staple of Beltway journalism that has bled over into war reporting that most reporters are loathe to burn their sources by writing derogatory things about them. To be blunt, most reporters are as career-obsessed as the officers they’re interviewing and they don’t want to poison the well. This is doubly true if the officer being interviewed is a four-star general. There is a simple reciprocity involved: if you want to be invited back to ride on The Boss’s helicopter, if you want continued access, you’d better not write about his soft spot for strippers and gin.”
Substitute “business reporting” for “war”, and “CEOS” for mere “officers” and “executive jet” for “helicopter” …
Or substitute “covering state senate and US senate votes” for business or war, and “Barack Obama” for “CEOs”…
…and you get the same idea.
Are we seeing a pattern yet?
Now, Matt Taibi, also over at Rolling Stone, (on the blog), weighs in ripping Lara Logan. (Does the title, “Lara Logan, You Suck”, tell you anything?) CBS’s implausibly good-looking Chief Foreign Correspondent for essentially accusing Hastings (of the McChrystal expose) of unprofessional journalism.
Taibbi, who has written some terrific stuff about Wall St. sharks (post-facto, alas), holds nothing back defending the “outsider” journalism game from the Revenge of the “insiders”.
“I have been there, when some would-be “reputable” journalist who’s just been severely ass-whipped by a relative no-name freelancer on an enormous story fights back by going on television and, without any evidence at all, accusing the guy who beat him of cheating. That’s happened to me so often, I’ve come to expect it. If there’s a lower form of life on the planet earth than a “reputable” journalist protecting his territory, I haven’t seen it.
Which is, of course, where we bloggers come in. We have beaten the stuffing out of the mainstream media so many times we’ve lost count. And we’ve taken the MSM’s demonstrable lack of integrity from meme to joke to truism to weary bromide in less than a decade.
So – why should anyone care what they say anymore?
Can we finally stick a fork in the entire milieu of the “professional journalist”? Extinguish the entire cult of the high priests of knowledge? Acknowledge the fact that the “journalistic profession” (actually a glorified craft, even at its best) is a fossil?