“The (rhymes with rich) is back.” – Roger Simon
All of what I’ve seen revealed from Journolist by Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller revolves around email exchanges during the general election time in 2008. Roger Simon whines today that “Journolist veers out of bounds”, being the latest to laud good, old journalism as opposed to the new media brand of brashness, where Simon now has landed. As you can see from the quote above, with there many more where that came from, what was out in plain sight was far worse than what existed on any listserv, though no doubt private emails between partisans likely were. And, yes, the comment above from Mr. Simon refers to Hillary Rodham Clinton during the primaries.
Tucker Carlson e-mailed me: “What they did discredits journalism in general, and honorable liberal journalists in particular. I know plenty of progressives who have a healthy skepticism even of candidates they voted for. Most of the members of Journolist didn’t.”
Tucker Carlson embarrasses himself with this statement. Certainly he knows that most of the listserv Journolist emails he has shared were culled during the presidential election season, when all “honorable liberal journalists” swallowed their skepticism in order to elect the political side they feel is best for the country. It’s not that there still isn’t skepticism, it’s just that election time is not the time to push it. But in the end this is about making people’s employers nervous, whether it’s an establishment organization or a congressperson whose staffer said something on a listserv. It’s why the self-righteous nature of the Daily Callers charges reeks.
That said, there were many, many new media writers and journalists, including cable talking heads and anchors, as well as non-activist reporters, who never had a healthy skepticism, but now are unleashing it against Obama wildly without admitting they were wrong. Not about helping elect Obama, but wrong that what they expected is coming close to being represented in Obama’s record, proving they were sucked in by the marketing like any amateur or star struck fan of a personality even if their job was to reveal the difference between the reality and the candidate’s marketing, which they failed to even try to do.
This leads me to the drivel from Roger Simon today. Now, what Chuck Todd is quoted as saying has some merit: “I am sure Ezra had good intentions when he created it, but I am offended the right is using this as a sledgehammer against those of us who don’t practice activist journalism.” It’s not only “activist” journalism, but partisan journalism. Todd also misses the moment that Carlson’s posts have been about, which mostly revolve around the general election season. Another problem is that many cable shows also presented themselves as having no agenda, when they clearly did, including guests who said nothing about their biases while opining with a tilt. It can get very confusing for the uninitiated viewer.
Roger Simon continues by holding up old media against new media:
… but let me end with the words of Stanley Walker. He was a famous newspaper editor in the 1920s and ’30s and wrote the following, which I have edited for space. (And if he were writing today, I am reasonably sure he would have included women.) “What makes a good newspaperman? The answer is easy. He knows everything. He is aware not only of what goes on in the world today, but his brain is a repository of the accumulated wisdom of the ages. He hates lies and meanness and sham, but keeps his temper. He is loyal to his paper and to what he looks upon as his profession; whether it is a profession or merely a craft, he resents attempts to debase it. When he dies, a lot of people are sorry, and some of them remember him for several days.” – Journolist Veers Out of Bounds, by Roger Simon
This is rewriting important history that new media has made, whether you think Wikileaks is part of that history or not. It was the New York Times who printed Judith Miller’s stenography of Ahmad Chalabi’s lies on WMD in Iraq, not to mention “Curveball,” or was it Dick Cheney’s? It was new media that led the charge against torture after Abu Ghraib. It was new media who led the calls for George W. Bush’s administration to be investigated, with Speaker Pelosi saying no. I was wrong to agree with her, having written about Clinton’s impeachment at the time and knowing what a distraction it can be; believing that the Rep. focus on all things to take down Clinton also made us more vulnerable on 9/11. Now on the precipice of possibly losing the House, we’re hearing Rep. Issa and others talk about Rep. Rangel investigations, knowing there will be others, while the Obama DOJ did nothing about the possible war crimes committed under Pres. George W. Bush, wanting to move on.
Where are the non-activist journalists on demanding justice here? It’s not like Chuck Todd was sticking his neck out on the Iraq story or torture. Let’s not pretend that journalists who need access are going to be tough on politicians and leaders in an economic climate and wide open media that will always present our politicos with an outlet that offers sanctuary from scrutiny.
We’ll see just how media works when Christiane Amanpour begins her run on “This Week” Sunday, because she has never held up sacred cows or given anyone sanctuary. However, to get people to come on her show she might have to going forward, as Sunday news shows are talking point events, but we shall see.
There are many listservs out there and they’re important, because without them we’d have a lot more Sullivans and Breitbarts using factoids to smear, while making nonsense, even totally bogus stories, headlines.
Reality today is that we live in a global digital world where colleagues can’t gather round an Algonquin table to discuss what’s happening. The global media world requires a meeting place and in some instances emails and listservs provide just that. I participate in both, with no apologies. Anything I write privately I expect to see publicly, however, since I have remained sole and independent, I’m not a fish whose catching will yield squat. Besides, to do my job I have to reach out and so do countless others. It doesn’t make anyone corrupt, unless their writing is compromised by alliances or cash, which he or she isn’t disclosing openly. I’m also completely independent of anyone, because access journalism isn’t my gig, though I respect many who live and breathe by it, because it isn’t easy today. Again, politicians can always find a friendlier place away from someone who’s going to pin them down.
As for activism journalism versus non-activism, as long as the person you are reading declares I don’t see the issue. It’s easy enough for people to Google and check the facts of who they choose to read. But let’s also remember that sometimes people don’t care, because they have their favorites and they’re sticking to them. People often gravitate to who supports their world view. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity don’t stay in business because they’re truth seekers or tellers; people like their partisan points laid on with a trowel.
However, it’s in the complexity of a story that the truth resides, with shades and nuances not easily translating and accepted in today’s hyper partisan, black and white media world.
And like old media, there are reputable new media sources, professionals, then there are amateur blogs, then reader diaries. It’s up to you to know where you’ve landed. It’s not hard to tell if you’re paying attention.
What we need is more transparency by everyone. I’ve provided that every day since I began writing. As I’ve written many times before, I’m not a movement progressive and don’t consider myself “netroots,” as I’ve been writing on the web since 1996. I have declared myself each election, most recently in the summer of 2007 for Hillary, then when Obama won fair and square I endorsed he and Biden on foreign policy grounds, not domestic. It’s not my problem if people can’t get beyond their own perceived bias against me because of where I’ve laid my cards in the past. I don’t operate on the good opinion of others. I just tell it like I see it. Since 2008, I’ve walked away from hyper partisanship, but remain a liberal, holding no charge for any politician, though I respect many.
Cards on the table.
Old media has waned, with new media ascendant, with more funding needed for new media so we can pick up where newspaper bureaus left off, as pieces like Dana Priest and Bill Arkin are important. But it was Wikileaks who blew their story off the map, which has to be a final wake up call for the establishment old press. New media is where it’s at and I’m proud to have been there when it was born.
UPDATE: Chuck Todd sent full comments to Ben Smith, which is very helpful beyond a 140 word tweet. Interesting that he’s lamenting Breitbart, while Andrew Sullivan’s continual ravings on Palin-Trig continue to go unmentioned, even if both are cut of the same cloth. The thing is that Todd’s lament over “what the hell is happening to journalism” has been shifting in this direction since way back since 1996, the first year I began writing on the web, when Drudge broke the Lewinski story that Newsweek wouldn’t print (though, obviously, Drudge’s entry was far more visible than my own). If you’re not in new media you might have missed the beginning, but that it’s come to where we are today, though there is no comparison to Journolist and Breitbart, in 2010 isn’t surprising to new media veterans like myself (and there aren’t many of us that hail from way back then).