Everything wrong with today’s journalists

The amazing and super-awesome Digby (who should also be paid to write a regular column, by the by) directs us to this appalling- but alas, not surprising- piece at the Politico about the White House correspondents’ dinner:

After the fracas had quieted down, the next logical question of the evening was, “What party are you going to?� In the past, there have been only one or two after-parties to attend, the most prestigious being Bloomberg’s.

But last year, things began to change when Capitol File magazine and Reuters offered their own competing post-parties. And this year, Vanity Fair reignited its after-party—which the mag stopped hosting in 1999—at the Adams Morgan condo of scribe Christopher Hitchens.

The VF party was the evening’s most sought after ticket, precisely because it was billed as so exclusive. Heavy-hitting journo names filled the guest list, whereas Bloomberg and Capitol File mixed beltway insiders with people outside the political tent.

In our informal poll before the dinner, taken while attending “Hardball with Chris Matthews� Executive Producer Tammy Haddad’s famous garden party (which she co-hosts with a slew of others), most people reported they were going to Bloomberg.

As the Weekly Standard writer, Matt Labash told us: “I’m going to Bloomberg with my friends. Do you think I want to stand in a room with Sean Penn and Doug Feith? I know how that story ends. In blood and tears. And oil. Oily tears. I’m going to Bloomberg because I’m a man of principle.� Of course late that night we saw him cabbing over to Hitch’s house, but that’s neither here nor there.

Syndicated radio host and Democratic commentator Bill Press confessed: “I’m crashing the Vanity Fair party—here’s why. I have crashed the Bloomberg party so many times it’s no fun anymore. It’s true. I’ve been to the party so many times it’s no fun anymore.�

Former Washington Poster and New York Daily news gossip columnist Lloyd Grove told us: “I’m on the list at Bloomberg. I haven’t tried Vanity Fair, maybe I’ll show up…since my coach turned into a pumpkin and I’m no longer important I hope people who I’ve been nice to and done favors for will pay up!�

Needless to say, I have some major, major issues with journalists who enjoy schmoozing it up with the politicians they’re supposed to be covering. It’s like one of those stupid Tom & Jerry episodes where the cat and the mouse decide suddenly that they’re good friends and that they can work together to win boat races and play tennis and shit.

Not only do those episodes suck major ass, but they’re violating one of Brad’s Key Laws of Nature (If he Ever Got to Run Nature, At Least): that natural enemies are natural enemies for a very good reason. Tom and Jerry should not be shaking hands and being buddy-buds. Journalists should not be cozying up to elected officials.

I may be old-school, but I personally like my journalists poor, angry and with a chip on their shoulder. Oh, and they should also be extraordinarily skeptical of people in power, regardless of their political party. Politicians hate good journalists and good journalism. Take Dana Priest* and Anne Hull’s ass-kicking expos&#233 on the Walter Reed hospital, for instance, or Charlie Savage’s fabulous analysis of Bush’s use of signing statements. Hell, take anything Sy Hersh has ever written about anything. Do you really think the powers-that-be are especially pleased by such work?

The answer is, “No fucking way.” Good reporters are seen by most politicians as the enemy. On the other hand, bad “journalists” such as Chris Matthews and Tim Russert and Maureen Dowd are always invited to rub elbows with the powerful because the powerful know how to use them to advance their messages. Just look at how many of Dowd’s columns can be boiled down to “OMG-DEMS-R-FAGZ, IT IS TO FUNNY FOREVER!” Way to cut-‘n’-paste one of Karl Rove’s blast-faxes, chump!

The point here isn’t that journalists should automatically hate every politician they come into contact with. The point is that journalists should be very wary of politicians who try to be their “friends” by inviting them out for nights on the town with other political figures. The cocktail weenie circuit of DC “journalism” is a cancer on the profession, and it has to be demolished.

*And yeah, I know Dana was a regular Imus guest, and is more of a schmoozer than Sy Hersh, who probably spends his Friday evenings… gosh, I don’t even want to think about it. She’s still a good reporter though.


Comments: 25


Someone should remind the wingnuts and Republicans that “the media” loves them. In their fantasy world, “the media” is made up of a bunch of dirty commie hippies who are trying to bring down The Man. In real life, media people are millionaires (or at least hundredthousandaires) and they love the power and wealth of the political elites.


Sy Hersh, who probably spends his Friday evenings… gosh, I don’t even want to think about it.

Sy Hersh spends his Friday evenings perched on the Capitol roof, his trenchcoat swirling about him in the wind, gazing out over Washington and murmuring: “My city. My filthy, rotten, twisted, beautiful city. How I hate it. How I love it.” Then he senses governmental malfeasance somewhere and – like that – he’s gone.


I think the word we’re looking for in America today is “aristocracy”…


It all started when journalists suddenly decided they were celebs. Not the Walter Cronkite/Edward R. Murrow type (jeez I’m old)—journalists who actually covered important stories and remembered their roles as watchdogs of the public trust and took pride in gettin’ all in the govmint’s face—but the hair-blown socialite wannabes we’re stuck with today, like MoDo & Co., who for some reason think they’re as newsworthy as the dickwads they’re supposed to be keeping tabs on for us. Buncha whores.

I weep for my profession. Copiously, and often.


I don’t think you’re properly thinking this through. What you’re suggesting will clearly destroy the cocktail-weenie industry.


This is all about Althouse, isn’t it?


Good journalists will find a way to publish the important stories. Not only has the underground / alternative media of the 1960s and 1970s given rise to many journalists’ careers, but the mainstream media consistently troll the alternative media (now blogs) for their stories.

Remember My Lai? Surely you don’t think the New Yorker or the New York Times were first to print with this story.

Published on Sunday, May 6, 2001
The Myth of the Media’s Role in Vietnam
by Jeff Cohen

Of the many myths that mushroomed from the carnage of the Vietnam War perhaps none is more specious than the fable about how a bold, aggressive mainstream media turned America against the war. As the pundit class sinks into a new quagmire debating former Sen. Bob Kerrey’s Vietnam mission, it’s a good time to dissect the myth.

Let’s begin with the My Lai massacre of March 1968, where hundreds of Vietnamese civilians were executed by American soldiers. My Lai would later be cited as proof of a mainstream press bent on sensationalizing U.S. atrocities in Vietnam.

The reality was just the opposite. Beginning months after My Lai, evidence of the massacre was presented to top national news media by Vietnam veteran Ron Ridenhour and others, but not one outlet would touch the story. It wasn’t until November 1969, more than a year and a half after the My Lai slaughter, that the story was finally published by the small, alternative Dispatch News Service and dogged investigative reporter Seymour Hersh.


I believe that since the role of liberal & lefty blogs have become so prominent now, that the next time “all” the major media are sitting on a story, you’ll see a few pro journalists bring them to the blogs to get the story out.


[…] is basically what I was trying to say here. What made Halberstam so much better is that he could say it without gratuitous […]


The late David Halberstam on journalism.

One of the things I learned, the easiest of lessons, was that the better you do your job, often going against conventional mores, the less popular you are likely to be. (So, if you seek popularity, this is probably not the profession for you.) . . .

Glenn Greenwald covers it here.


Speaking of media failures, from an NPR report this morning (since we got dem Talkin’ Vietnam War Blues):

The anti-war talk given by the Iraq War II veteran was sparsely attended. The audience consisted of no one other than aging hippies and draft dodgers from the Vietnam era.

Shorter NPR:
See, these anti-war folks are quaint relics of the past, not to mention old traitors.


NPR stands for National Propaganda Radio. I can still remember the day in 2003 when I was driving home, and NPR suddenly, out of the blue, started using the phrase ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’. One day they were slightly critical of the coming war, the next, they were all on board, ready to shuck’n’awe.

It’s been proven through analytical study that NPR is about 65% represented by conservatives – about the same level of bias that you find at ALL the major news outlets!

the ‘liberal media’ is owned by about 4 or 5 conservative companies.

god I hate the myth of the liberal media.


it’s a bit early i know, but this gets my nomination for best sn! post of the year.


NPR? I thought that stood for Nice Polite Republicans?

Boy, Ray Kroc’s widow sure could have have picked a better fount of journalism to which to donate much of her legacy.


the myth of the liberal media

What really gets me about this media myth is that it disproves itself.

The constant repetition of “librul media!1!!” in that selfsame media that’s so allegedly liberal? Hmm. It doesn’t add up, on its face.

Wouldn’t a truly liberally biased media be trying to hide its biases? Wouldn’t a truly liberal media be claiming via its proxies/pundits that it’s conservatively biased, so as to spur consumers to think that reality, therefore, must be more liberal than it appears in the press?

I mean, come on now.


I strongly support reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, due to the Liberal Media’s concerted effort to crush Republicans.



I agree, overall, with the trust of your piece — but I think skepticism, rather than outright antagonism — is the proper M.O. Moreover, I think Hersh would agree. Seriously, he would get nowhere without high-up sources in the least likely of places, like the Pentagon, State, etc.

The difference, of course, is that Hersh can talk to these people without having to believe them, because he would test their word against those of other sources. And would also judge the track record of his sources before aceeding them trustworthy status. There’s a lot of information to judge — the source’s motivation, their place in the power structure, their trustworthiness, etc. All of which today’s journalists largely overlook to curry favor with the dominant power players of the Beltway.

Their social proximity dooms them, even while it could be an asset, if they were smart enough to use the access to rip their stories to shreds. How did journalists become less shrewd than the people they cover?


Not to mention the shamles name dropping going on in that article. Like, “Hey, did i ever tell you about that time me and Einstein wedgied ol’ Max Plank while on the Loveboat with pre-Tibet Brad Pitt? Man, he was so stoned off the Jamaican Gold that Penn found that he gave Anniston a call, right out of the blue! He even had P-Diddy’s cellie upside down while trying to dial!”


Hell, take anything Sy Hersh has ever written about anything. Do you really think the powers-that-be are especially pleased by such work?

The answer is, “No fucking way.�

Sadly, No! The answer is actually “well, which powers-that-be are we talking about, exactly?”

Hersh’s sources tend to be disaffected, highly-placed people in the National Security and Military establishment. What he does is miles better than just printing whatever is handed to him over drinks with elected officials or their staff, but he’s definitely being fed information by powerful people— and like all such information, it often turns out to be wrong.

He’s got some astounding scoops to his credit, to be sure, but meticulous multi-sourcing doesn’t even guarantee factual accuracy, let alone political impartiality.


Jay B.: Exactly right. Skepticism. We should remember that much of the time politicians are basically salesmen. Whether they’re selling themselves as candidates, hoping to get your vote, or pushing their policies as officeholders, trying to get your support, they’re trying to make the sale, close the deal. So skepticism is always in order, whether you’re being asked to buy a presidential candidate, a life insurance policy, or a used car. It’s not that there are no honest politicians, a case which would justify outright antagonism. There are, just as there are honest used car salesmen. But the burden of proof is always on THEM.

Politics reporters who do not remember this are failing in their duty, as it is they, not we, who get to ask questions directly.


Actually, in that Tom & Jerry episode, they spent the entire time fighting. Tom inherited “a million bucks” on the proviso that he harm no other creature, “not even a mouse.” Jerry uses the prohibition to torment Tom.


I am ever amazed at the level of scholarship on this blog.


Yeah, but there were episodes where they palled up, usually to fight a dog, and I liked those episodes. Because they were the only cartoons ever where the cat didn’t get his ass kicked. Why did the media have such an anti-cat bias?


Because they were the only cartoons ever where the cat didn’t get his ass kicked. Why did the media have such an anti-cat bias?

Because cats freak out well. Much more fun than having fun at the expense of an armadillo or sloth.


Besides, Snitchenz always Bogarts all the liquor before anyone arrives for the party.


[…] able to slur menacingly about the president’s White House Correspondents Dinner speech at his Vanity Fair after-party, before retiring to the cloak room to projectile vomit on the gold trench coat of smokin’ […]


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