Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Where Cowards Rule

'Good journalism requires a degree of courage in today’s climate, a quality now in scarce supply in our mass media.'
—Carl Bernstein, writing in 1992 in The New Republic about America's "idiot culture." Unfortunately, the culture has become considerably more idiotic since then, and the mass media considerably more cowardly. To his credit, Bernstein continues to blast the idiot culture every chance he gets. For a look back at my earlier mention of antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan's take on the idiot culture, click here.

10 Comments:

At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Mr. Bluster said...

Bernstein: "You can't separate the appetites and demands of the people themselves and what they are given. The blame simply can't all be put at the feet of those who present news."

Have you noted the eagerness and relief "news" people like Katie Couric display when given one of these idiot stories to read? The networks want us to want it, to paraphrase Cheap Trick. That way, they don't have to pay for the actual work of reporting and can keep licking the administration's boots.

 
At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Roldo Bartimole said...

The press today provides what the Roman circuses did in the past: entertainment so that the public won't think about the true issues of the day. So Bernstein is correct about the news media's grave miscarriage of its duties in a free society.

 
At 2:08 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I think poor Katie C. is now in a little different pickle: feeling so under the microscope for poor ratings as a result of trying to tart up the news with all manner of gimmicks that she's trying her best to display whatever gravitas she can muster. Which isn't much.

 
At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Mr. Bluster said...

When she finds a choice opportunity to make a GOP talking point, her face reminds me of the expression of a dog returning a thrown stick to its owner. She knows she has minutely advanced the program of Sumner Redstone, the CBS chairman.

 
At 4:08 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Actually, Sumner Redstone is a notorious Dem-leaning kind of guy.

 
At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Mr. Bluster said...

He ought to lean on his news team a little harder, then. He's mainly a corporate guy dependent for largesse on the favors of the administration in power.

And then there is Lara Logan, CBS correspondent. I'd love to see her take on the anchor job someday, but she probably finds the politics of it disgusting.

 
At 4:20 PM, Anonymous Mr. Bluster said...

Redstone in 2004:

"I don't want to denigrate Kerry," he went on, "but from a Viacom standpoint, the election of a Republican administration is a better deal. Because the Republican administration has stood for many things we believe in, deregulation and so on. The Democrats are not bad people. . . . But from a Viacom standpoint, we believe the election of a Republican administration is better for our company."

OpinionJournal.com

 
At 4:22 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I think the safest thing, Mr. Bluster, is for guys at that level to just plain stay the hell out of the news decisions and even more general policy-making. Otherwise all hell breaks loose, the network news looses further credibility (if indeed it still has any to lose). You didn't have to be a genius to be chilled at the prospect of GE, with its hands in everything, owning NBC. And there are what I consider persuasive reports that remain un-debunked that then-GE chairman Jack Welch, an arrogant meddler if there ever was one, improperly got involved with NBC's election coverage in 2000, ordering the network to call the election for George Bush that night. I can think of nothing scarier than that.

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

And yes, that comment he made about how a Republican administration would be better for the company was widely remarked-upon at the time, and was a reminder that while some business people might have Dem leanings, their wallets generally pull them in the other direction. He's an interesting case, because although he oversees a large public company, he's always run it like he owns it all by himself (he started as a little guy with a couple movie theatres and just kept growing from there). So in his case especially, the lines between his personal and business politics are more blurred than for most.

 
At 4:37 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

By the way, I meant to post a couple of links fleshing out that reference to Jack Welch's alleged improper involvement in election coverage. Here they are:

http://www.house.gov/waxman/issues/issues_other_nbc_elec_waxman_renews_9_11_01.htm

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117852523.html?categoryid=18&cs=1

 

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