Someone I'm related to by marriage has written a superb column on the problem of media ignorance. The fact I'm not a disinterested observer shouldn't stop me from noting that the column and the event that prompted it has attracted some attention. The piece is pegged to a much discussed interview talk radio star Hugh Hewitt conducted with Zach Carter, the Huffington Post’s “senior political economy reporter.” Hewitt asked Carter why he was spouting off various critical opinions related to Dick Cheney and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Certainly, Carter's not alone here -- the rise of ISIS has had liberal journalists queuing up to insist President Obama bears minimal responsibility for the disintegration of the situation in Iraq. Joe Biden bet his vice presidency Iraq would extend the Status of Forces Agreement, and had they not failed, it might well have prevented the current mess. But here we are.
Another reporter is joining the Obama administration. Emily Pierce, the deputy editor of Roll Call, will be joining the office of public affairs at the Department of Justice, the federal agency headed by Attorney General Eric Holder.
Pierce was welcomed to her new position by Brian Fallon, who works in that DOJ office and who used to be Chuck Schumer's spokesman in the Senate.
"Can't wait to welcome @emilyprollcall to @TheJusticeDept Office of Public Affairs later this month. She is a true pro," Fallon said on Twitter.
Like Diogenes in search of an honest man, The Scrapbook has been on an extended quest to find the Golden Age of American journalism. That was the era, not so long ago, when a literate public was downright serious about the news, and America’s newspapers, magazines, and television networks paid close, detailed attention to current events, foreign affairs, and national politics—which, of course, were civil in tone, bipartisan in nature, and concerned with finding solutions rather than exploiting problems.
The Scrapbook has previously commented on the “new breed of pundit/political scientist who seems to think that a pie chart is a substitute for argument.” Whether it’s the fault of an education system and corporate sector saturated with PowerPoint presentations, the increasing desperation of polemicists, reporters, and poli-sci types to cast their work as hard “science,” or just the rising tide of philistinism, it seems an ever-growing number of writers and thinkers have taken to substituting the siren song of the computer-generated chart for the hard work of written argument.
With the death of Jack Germond at 85, the great triumvirate of political reporting is now gone. Germond, Robert Novak, and David Broder were the Clay, Calhoun, and Webster of political journalism with their columns and TV commentary, but mostly with their dogged reporting.
In light of the ongoing, slow-motion collapse of the mainstream media, at least one major journalism school has decided to reassess its priorities. Last week, Inside Higher Ed reported that the prestigious Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California is revamping its master’s degree program.
In a statement released this morning, the Newseum announces that it will "re-evaluate" its decision to include two terrorists on its "Journalist Memorial." The Newseum had been planning to honor former members of the terrorist group Hamas, Mahmoud Al-Kumi and Hussam Salama.
An old journalistic axiom holds, “If it bleeds, it leads.” This means that stories of violence—of murder and arson, tornadoes and hurricanes, floods and carnage—always get primary attention in newspapers and on radio and television news. They still do, but coming up fast on the outside, especially on television news, are stories of deep personal sadness. So regular a feature of nightly television news has the spectacle of heartbroken people become that a new axiom is needed: “If it weeps, it keeps.”
Lots of cultural writing these days, in books and magazines and newspapers, relies on the so-called Chump Effect. The Effect is defined by its discoverer, me, as the eagerness of laymen and journalists to swallow whole the claims made by social scientists.