October 02, 2007
Originally published April 27, 2004
I was a graduate student at the Henry W. Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia from 1974 through 1975. I was there when the idea of "advocacy journalism" first began to take root and grow like kudzu in journalism schools. I didn't like the idea, because I met some of the most ignorant, uneducated, left-leaning dorkles I ever saw in my life in GRADUATE SCHOOL, for crying out loud.
Most of those people never had an original thought in their lives and probably never would. They swallowed every leftist rant from every leftist professor like a baby bird eating mama-bird's vomit. But THEY were going to "intrepret" the news for ME? I didn't think so at the time and I don't think so now.
I believe that I witnessed the inevitable culture-shift that came to pass after Woodward and Bernstein won the Pulitizer and brought Nixon down with their Watergate reporting. They became celebrities and every wanna-be in grad school held those guys up as heroes. I didn't.
I still want to know who "Deep Throat" was, or whether or not he was a complete fiction created for advocacy purposes. Hey... if a good guess pans out, attribute it to an unnamed source and it's not a guess anymore. It's reporting.
I now wonder whether the press has played its string out to the end with this crap. Looks at the scandals at the NYT, USA Today, CNN and the BBC. Manipulation. Falsification. Plagarism. Outright Lies. Bribery. Looking the other way to gain access to high officials. It's a bleak picture.
If I've learned one lesson in life, I know this: A tarnished reputation is much more difficult to refurbish than a reputation that's never been sullied. The press laid down with pigs. Scrubbing away the muck now is a difficult task. Too many people got a good whiff of the stench when the press was wallowing in the sty. People remember bad smells.
I agree with president Bush on where the press stands today. They DO NOT have a direct conduit to the American People anymore. They pissed all over that conduit and shorted out the wires years ago. And they don't seem to understand what happened.
Here the Bush Thesis is like a mafia read, a Sopranos script: "You don't have that kind of muscle any more, so shut the f... up." He basically said that. I don't read you or watch your news. NPR? Sorry, I don't listen. Am I out of touch with the American people? Nah, not worried about it. Playing Gotcha when America's at war-- now that's out of touch! Fifth data point: at the top of the government, the press is seen as a declining power.
Bush sees it, the shifting public opinion about the reliability of the press, which the press brought crashing down upon its own head through irresponsibility and hubris. The members of the press remain blind to their own shortcomings.
Adapt or die, fuckers.
All content © Rob Smith