Tag Archives: Journalism

Journalists as Endangered Species

RickC (CC)

For every spotted owl in danger of losing its habitat, there’s a do-good organization out to protect it. It wouldn’t be surprising if such a tree hugging group would step up to defend the hated stink bugs, if we finally managed to find an effective and inexpensive way to destroy them. So it goes with liberal humans and the animal kingdom. But what about subsets within the human species? What about the journalists that specialize in hard-hitting straight news?

RickC (CC)

There was a time when journalists did not run around writing stories like they were getting supplemental incomes from politicians for ignoring graft on the page. On the contrary, one of the quickest ways to lose one’s job as a staff member for a Congressman or Senator would be to fail in keeping the press at bay when there was a scandal. Now, the job description of a beltway worker doesn’t tend to include hiding any misdeeds from the media, because with few noted exceptions, the media is quite willing to take being spoon-fed pablum by politicians.

Yes, there is Katie Pavlich and Brandon Darby, as well as Lee Stranahan, Robert Stacy McCain, and Aaron Worthing. There are many others like them, and the common thread there is that they are not traditional media journalists. They’re also not liberals, but this isn’t just about political leanings here. Whether it is out of a misguided notion that the current President is untouchable simply because of the color of his skin, or any other reason under the sun, the fact remains that the journalists that should be acting as watch dogs have been getting fat and lazy on the bones tossed to them by politicians on both sides of the fence.

This isn’t a new concept, of course. It also isn’t going away anytime soon. However, there is one new wrinkle to this situation. While no one would argue the point that Bob Woodward is a sacred cow in the world of journalism, if for no other reason because of his work on the Watergate scandal, perhaps he will lose some of his stature among the new crop of liberal journalists now. He probably has already, thanks to his latest works. But now he has compounded his sin, by pointing out the elephant in the room – journalists aren’t doing their jobs anymore. Woodward pointed out to Mike Allen in an interview that it is not the job of journalists to act as cheerleaders for Obama. Instead, they are supposed to be an “irritant” to politicians – not as strong a term as watchdog, but at least it’s something.

When I first started playing in the world of journalism, it was as a student. I was given the “administration beat” for our school newspaper, and had to get information from our school superintendent for the high school newspaper. That was boring, so I started actually asking questions. Soon enough, the superintendent did everything he could to avoid seeing me. Yes, that was just student journalism, but I didn’t get in trouble with the teacher for doing that. On the contrary, I was told that in general, if leaders didn’t have a problem talking to me because I asked easy questions, I was doing it wrong. If someone told me then that there would be a time when journalists wouldn’t do their jobs the way my high school journalism teacher taught us, I wouldn’t have believed it. My old teacher is still running the school paper – maybe one day I’ll go back and ask her what she’s teaching her students now about interviewing leaders. If the lesson’s the same, maybe real journalism won’t become extinct. But, at this point, we have to rely on the next generation to get journalists off the “endangered species” list.

The Obama Administration, the Mainstream Media and the Death of Journalism

It’s nothing new to point out that the mainstream media has placed itself as the tool of the Obama Administration. However, over the past 24 hours, that contention has taken on a truly frightening meaning. Bluntly, it seems that there are countless examples of the media regurgitating whatever the Obama Administration spoon feeds it, and passing it off as journalism. It’s gone beyond the point of even considering fact-checking, and “news” has become almost purely opinions pieces – not “straight journalism.”

DonkeyHotey (CC)

While examples of this abound, the focus here will be on the mainstream media hijacking the narrative to place this administration in a good light, and it will include a true opinion piece – not something that’s being schlepped as real news. The Fix from the Washington Post passed along a lovely example of this wonderland mentality that really doesn’t have a firm grasp on reality. Now, to be fair, this item was probably started before the events in the Middle East, and just maybe, Chris Cillizza might change his tune a little bit once the actual political fallout from these events come home to roost, so to speak. But, as of this morning, his contention is that Mitt Romney is panicking, and he dutifully offered some comments from some Republicans on this. Of course, it should go without saying that the Romney camp should examine this article for some of the finer points, and maybe make some minor adjustments accordingly. There are some worthwhile points made in this article. However, they are definitely overshadowed by Cillizza’s regurgitating of the Obama camp narrative that has been permeating the mainstream media.

Like the assertion that Romney made a mistake by calling the Obama administration on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo tweeting apologies to Muslims before, during, and after the attack there. It’s been observed, repeatedly, that if it was a Republican in the White House (George W. Bush, for example), the press would have been all over him for this. That is absolutely true. But where is the press now? Well, they’re buying the quasi-retraction from the Obama administration, and focusing on Romney, calling him an alarmist, or worse. Or they’re complaining about him breaking the 9/11 promise, and talking politics – but please don’t mention that the Obama camp was active from point one, fundraising, soliciting for volunteers, sending out surrogates, and sniping against the Romney camp on Twitter. But, back to the utter failure of the media, where were the questions on that Obama retraction? If that statement was “unauthorized”, who’s really in charge? Or was this statement merely an extension of an already established position of this administration? Either way, what Romney did or didn’t say isn’t the story here. The story is in that Embassy and in this administration.

And to keep things even here, even the right-wing media missed this one. Sure, it might feel good to say that someone in the Obama administration deserves to be fired, but that doesn’t change the fact that the real story lies somewhere much higher than that one staffer. Again, where are the questions about who is really in charge here? On one hand it’s said that this president is leading from behind, a perfect example of this falls in the laps of the conservative media, and all they can come up with is that a relatively low-level diplomatic corps employee deserves to get canned? Talk about a lost opportunity!

But, back to Cillizza’s wishful musings. Other than giving the Romney camp a mini-roadmap for fixing some issues in their campaign, what does this piece say? Given the number of words devoted to the whole Libya issue, it wouldn’t be out of the question to suggest that the administration doesn’t want anyone focusing on what’s actually happening now, when it comes to a response to the incident. After reading, and re-reading Romney’s statement, the only problem is this:

America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We’ll defend also our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion.

There is no doubt that is Romney’s opinion on the matter, however it is unlikely that the Obama administration agrees. Romney should have avoided talking about reaction by the government at all, since he’s not in a position to cause any action himself at this time. As it is, Marines apparently will not be permitted to use live ammo in Egypt, and while there are ships going to the region, it is unclear if there are any plans of action by the U.S. military. That in itself should be making headlines nationwide, but given the mainstream media’s love affair with Obama, that’s unlikely. Another item that should be getting the attention of journalists is the fact that Obama yet again walked away from taking questions from the press. Romney didn’t, but instead of being happy with the opportunity to get questions answered, the mainstream media found it necessary to conspire against him. Or so they thought, because it could easily be argued that Romney handled the questions very well, especially considering the fact that the journalists were ganging up on him. It was particularly heartening to hear his refusal to even consider hypothetical questions, and if his replies to their questions this time are any indication, it is fair to guess that the mainstream media will be crying regularly that he refuses to answer anything on national security, except in a very broad sense. Also, don’t expect any of the journalists to point out that Romney might have learned not to do that from Obama himself. They do try to forget his campaign promises of 2008 on Afghanistan and Gitmo, after all.

So, instead of having journalists and the press act as watchdogs over the government, we are left with the “Obama Administration State Media.” And that is the death of journalism in this nation. When journalists stop questioning our leaders meaningfully, and start acting as little more than mouthpieces for politicians, it is no longer a free press. It is no different than the state-controlled media in regions like the Middle East. Perhaps we all need to mull over the sad irony of that.