27 June 2010

fluff from the days

This was apparently a big deal

I don't see what the issue was. The bigger deal seems to have emerged out of the supposed lack of journalistic ethics. Part of me is sympathetic. People often will bitch and gripe about their boss in a way that doesn't bode well when taken out of context or as commentary. And in some cases, particularly complaints about Biden and Holbrooke, I'm not sure what the problem was anyway. Biden IS a blowhard who often says idiotic things. Holbrooke IS pretty much a giant pain in the ass for any possibility of that mission working. But a large portion of the problem is that complaints like these are made in front of a reporter instead of in the casual circle of trusted confidants, which suggests either poor judgment or that journalism is perceived as so depleted in its understanding of how to report a story that it often covers up things that might be of interest to its duties to report stories to the benefit of the person behind that story. Like the fact that the (now-former) commanding general in Afghanistan's staff seems to be a collection of whiny bastards who don't know to shut up around a reporter.

In a similar vein, a blogger I occasionally followed was axed for comments made public from an online closed forum. Since the online closed forum was consisting of...other journalists/bloggers, I don't see how those comments should have been interpreted as anything other than possibly made public some day. Some poor judgment is in order. Weigel also publicly aired his disdain for the tea party folks a couple of months ago and in particular the people who oppose gay marriage were called out as bigots. I think for the most part they are, but it does little good to say so. Still, it's not like some "red flags" didn't exist in public already before this latest incident.

In any case, I'm pretty sure that covering the strangeness that is the conservative political world right now is bound to get aggravating. It's not quite as broad a tent as it used to be (particularly since it's busy trying to excommunicate members) and its not as broad and incoherent as the Democratic voter base can be (with everything from environmentalist extremes to unions, farm lobbies, and even pro-life AND pro-choice voters). But it's still consisting of a tent that includes people like Ron Paul to Sarah Palin, and has an overarching series of ranting and uninformed blowhards (Rush, Hannity, Beck, Levin) who communicate to the flock at the cost of demanding absolute piety to their word (which often fails to maintain a logical consistency of principle from one month to the next, or even one day to the next). I'm not sure how you're going to somebody who would be perceived as capable of covering it fairly and still actually conduct... I don't know...I think they call it journalism. When prominent right-wing commentator X says something ridiculous Y that, in effect, cannot be fact checked, it's going to be a long day at the office. I'm sure a similar effect exists on the left, for example when Obama gives a speech about civil liberties or counter-terrorism measures and people take it for granted that he's actually doing or pushing to do the things he claimed he would. Somebody needs to exist to backstop the claims of prominent figures against the facts on the ground. Perhaps someone who bitches about Drudge and Ron Paul's acolytes is not the best choice, or perhaps someone who mounted a partial defence of Rand Paul in the fallout over his immediate press gaffes is likewise perceived as an ill-favored choice to do so. But still somebody has to do more than simply report "right wing commentator X says Y!, Must be true!"
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