Destroy your safe and happy lives before it is too late

If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend that you read the Thomas Mann/Norman Ornstein piece that Anne-Laurie linked to yesterday. It’s as long as you would expect from something involving Thomas Mann, but it can be boiled down to this:

Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views,” they wrote in the Post. “Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?”

People with high-paying jobs will, as a rule, always seek professional safety. Period. Full stop.

Until today’s perverse system of incentives and rewards for elite pundits changes, it will continue to be BOTH SIDES DO IT 24/7 365.

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72 replies
  1. 1
    Yutsano says:

    We need to expunge the ghost of David Broder from all pundit consciousness.

  2. 2
    shortstop says:

    “High-paying jobs” describes the Village, but most journalists have decidedly average salaries. I suppose many of them have their eyes on the big prize, though: full Village credentials.

  3. 3
    jl says:

    But will that ‘reporting’ stuff get you into prime real estate in the Hamptons? I think not.

    Or is it Hamptoms? Or Beverly Hillbillies Estates? Or, whatever, same difference.

  4. 4
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Either the system of incentives changes, or we break out tumbrels.

    It’s really that simple.

  5. 5
    DougJ says:

    @shortstop:

    I think most journalists have no illusions they will ever become Villagers. Most journalists I’ve met are smart, hard-working middle-class people.

  6. 6
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @shortstop: Writers write what they are assigned to write. Editors do the assigning. Publishers sign paychecks.

  7. 7
    Brachiator says:

    People with high-paying jobs will, as a rule, always seek professional safety. Period. Full stop.

    Reporters have always had bosses. Editors and Publishers have always called the shots. There is no past Golden Age in which low-paid honest schlubs were consistently or continuously sticking it to the Man.

    Until today’s perverse system of incentives and rewards for elite pundits changes, it will continue to be BOTH SIDES DO IT 24/7 365.

    Shit, there are free to cheap wingnut blogs slinging wingnut shit to wingnut masses. Economic reductionism doesn’t fully explain why both old and new media is so crappy or so eager to kiss conservative butt.

  8. 8
    Roger Moore says:

    @shortstop:
    Remember, though, it’s not just the individual reporters you have to think about. You can bet this stuff comes from the top down. Maybe a reporter doesn’t have a fantastic, high paying job, but a publisher does, and he knows that the way to protect it is to follow the company line about both sides doing it. The publisher makes it clear to the editor that his job is on the line, too, and the editor sends the message to the reporters.

  9. 9
    dollared says:

    People with high-paying nonunion jobs will, as a rule, always seek professional safety. Period. Full stop

    Fixed. It’s yet another reason why unions are fundamental to a free society.

  10. 10
    Zifnab25 says:

    Until today’s perverse system of incentives and rewards for elite pundits changes, it will continue to be BOTH SIDES DO IT 24/7 365.

    How do you fight infotainment? Scandals sell paper. “Both sides do it!” lets you maximize your audience by pretending to be above the fray.

    I don’t think this breed of pundit will ever really go away. All you can seriously hope for is that genuinely informative and well-sourced journalism isn’t strangled out beside it. Infotainment does at least get people engaged in politics, and once they’re there I think people become more receptive to the healthy sources of information.

    But if you are pining for the day the last pundit dies unreplaced… you’re going to be waiting a long damn time.

  11. 11
    David in NY says:

    You know what happens if you’re a pundit and tell the truth, though — the likes of Mary Matalin and George Will jump all over you.

  12. 12
    Jewish Steel says:

    Does the notoriously fractious British music press operate under the same principle?

    Blur vs Oasis! Both sides do it!

  13. 13
    handsmile says:

    @shortstop:

    And because its truth (not truthiness) has never wavered (in fact, it remains the best political satire of my lifetime), Stephen Colbert at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner:

    But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works: the president makes decisions. He’s the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put ’em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know – fiction!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2X93u3anTco

    Fittingly, there’s even a lengthy Wikipedia entry on this historic occasion.

  14. 14
    shortstop says:

    @DougJ: My experience has been about 50 percent smart and hardworking and about 50 percent mediocre assholes. Most of the first category, interestingly, consists of people who haven’t made a full career of journalism but are doing a number of different things.

  15. 15
    shortstop says:

    @Jewish Steel: You never disappoint.

  16. 16
    shortstop says:

    @Roger Moore: Always from the top down. There’s quite a bit of variation in individual reportorial freedom among outlets, though.

  17. 17
    Upper West says:

    Notwithstanding the self-protective nature of the Villagers, I still find the ostracizing of M & O to be striking and amazing. There is no better proof of the corruption and fear in the media than their shunning the centerist of the centerists as soon as they tell the truth about how crazy the GOP is.

    If they’re worried that M & O have become “partisans,” they don’t seem to be worried about the sociopaths they have every week like Matalin, Noonan, Gingrich, Santorum, Coulter Castellanos and many others.

    One thing wasn’t clear about the article — Whether M & O have actually turned down appearances because the same show had right wingers on.

  18. 18
    dollared says:

    Doug, you’re absolutely right. But this is where inequality equals corruption.

    Do your job well, and you risk being fired. If you are fired, what is your alternative? A generation ago, there were more jobs in general, and even low paying jobs covered the rent on an apartment, maybe even you could own a house.

    In an unequal world, you have to be in the top 10% to own a house in a US metro area. You can’t take any risks. There is no union to protect you. You have to maximize your income. So, you do what you’re told.

    So what is left? The only people who can take risks are functionally independently wealthy, or don’t have families. College kids and riches.

    BTW, that is exactly the demographics of Latin American journalism. You know, the culture that invented Magical Realism.

  19. 19
    DFH no.6 says:

    Upton Sinclair wrote a number of things in just this regard nearly 100 years ago. Plus ça change…

    Specifically, I’m thinking of his famous quote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it”.

    That’s mostly the problem right there, particularly with editors and the many Broderites and other such Villagers with which we are plagued.

  20. 20

    Kudos on the post title.

  21. 21
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Zifnab25:

    Until today’s perverse system of incentives and rewards for elite pundits changes, it will continue to be BOTH SIDES DO IT 24/7 365.

    __
    How do you fight infotainment? Scandals sell paper. “Both sides do it!” lets you maximize your audience by pretending to be above the fray.

    I think BothSidesDoIt is a symptom, not a cause. Given the opportunity our current press would not hestitate to crucify a Democrat without once mentioning that Republicans were guilty of the same sin (much less to make up lame examples of such, more or less out of thin air, or by bringing up stuff that last happened in 1968).

    For example, does anybody seriously belive that if Obama had never released his tax returns during either the 2008 or 2012 election campaigns, this would not have been a huge issue so far as our current press is concerned? Or that any Democrat could get away with the personal misbehavior (i.e. infotainment bait) that is routinely waved off for Republicans?

    BothSidesDoIt and Infotainment are simply the most effective tools that a very partisan press corps uses to help Republicans and hinder Democrats while pretending to be neutral.

  22. 22
    liberal says:

    @Zifnab25:

    How do you fight infotainment? Scandals sell paper. “Both sides do it!” lets you maximize your audience by pretending to be above the fray.

    Have to strongly (if respectfully) disagree. IIRC, papers in the 19th C were not “objective”, they chose sides, and in that sense at least were probably far more entertaining.

  23. 23
    Librarian says:

    It’s as long as you would expect from something involving Thomas Mann

    You mean like “Buddenbrooks”?

  24. 24
    liberal says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    BothSidesDoIt and Infotainment are simply the most effective tools that a very partisan press corps uses to help Republicans and hinder Democrats while pretending to be neutral.

    Agreed.

    On a related note, while I think there’s something to the claim that the MSM “wanted” a close race in 2012 because it would sell more, I also think that if there was a close race that really threatened elite perogatives, they wouldn’t want it close.

  25. 25
    liberal says:

    @DFH no.6:

    That’s mostly the problem right there, particularly with editors and the many Broderites and other such Villagers with which we are plagued.

    Not to mention so-called economists.

  26. 26
    Neldob says:

    The proud tradition started by Reagan who routinely “misspoke” is carried on by his worshipers. (That is meant to be a factual statement and is reality based.)

    Moyers did a show recently on the consolidation of news outlets, which the FCC is currently trying to allow more of.

  27. 27
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @liberal:

    Have to strongly (if respectfully) disagree. IIRC, papers in the 19th C were not “objective”, they chose sides, and in that sense at least were probably far more entertaining.

    Yup.

    Our problem right now is we have the worst of both worlds.

    We have a viciously partisan press along 19th Cen lines, but only on the Right (Fox, AM radio) and we also have a more subtle but still right wing partisan establishment press clinging to the last tattered shreds of mid-20th Cen “Objective Journalism” to hide their nakedness. And the message that the Emperor’s Totebags aren’t as lovely looking as respectable people would like to pretend may be getting thru, but very slowly indeed.

  28. 28
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @liberal:

    Have to strongly (if respectfully) disagree. IIRC, papers in the 19th C were not “objective”, they chose sides, and in that sense at least were probably far more entertaining.

    Yup.

    Our problem right now is we have the worst of both worlds.

    We have a viciously partisan press along 19th Cen lines, but only on the Right (Fox, AM radio) and we also have a more subtle but still right wing partisan establishment press clinging to the last tattered shreds of mid-20th Cen “Objective Journalism” to hide their nakedness. And the message that the Emperor’s Totebags aren’t as lovely looking as respectable people would like to pretend may be getting thru, but very slowly indeed.

  29. 29
    Waynski says:

    @Neldob:

    Moyers did a show recently on the consolidation of news outlets, which the FCC is currently trying to allow more of

    That’s a great idea FCC! Maybe we should do it with our banks…oh wait.

  30. 30
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @David in NY:
    I saw that on Salon, Mary “White House Iraq Group” Matalin, former paid (by Sheldon Adelson) advisor to the Swift Boaters of ’04, trying to scold Krugman for his analysis of the Ryan budget, or “budget”. Since no one remembers that thing that happened in Iraq a few years back, I can’t think of a better example of A + B = whatever the fuck we want it to as long as “A’ is what a Democrat says (a good, Serious, Centrist Democrat like Erskine Bowles or Dianne Feinstein, not some crazed hippie) and “B” is whatever any Repubilcan says, even if s/he also says things about legitimate rape, a young earth, and Benghazi was worse than 9/11.

  31. 31
    Porco Rosso says:

    @zombie rotten mcdonald:

    The Sadie’s In Concert Volume One ends with a lovely version of Memphis, Egypt with Jon providing vocals

  32. 32
    The Moar You Know says:

    Most journalists I’ve met are smart, hard-working middle-class people.

    @DougJ: I know four, two of them extremely well. All fit your description. Smart, middle-class, hard-working. Two women, two men. The two women, both good, not great, are now unemployed and will likely stay that way. One man is marginally employed in Spain, and I expect this to be his last paying gig when it ends, as does he. He is by far the best of the four.

    None of these three were Village aspirants.

    The last man standing was a Village aspirant and well on his way to getting there (he still gets a few major California politicos, all GOP, passing by his house to pay fealty every few months or so) but then he married a rich woman, got lazy, and now writes a human interest story once a year or so just to remind people he’s still alive.

    Start looking at Villagers as spokespeople and not journalists, as they aren’t. Paid journalism is just about done for, almost as dead as the telegraph operator, five more years and the few papers that are left (rich folk propaganda rags) will simply be pulling stories straight from bloggers and the police blotter, probably with no attribution and certainly no pay.

  33. 33

    @shortstop:

    “High-paying jobs” describes the Village, but most journalists have decidedly average salaries. I suppose many of them have their eyes on the big prize, though: full Village credentials.

    We aren’t really talking about “most journalists” here, are we? We are talking about the Village, the people whose opinions are spread throughout the country and whose printed and broadcast claims define the nation’s political debate.

    And as you point out, those who are not in the elite have their eyes & ears on what the elites are saying. Apart from imitating them in order to get better gigs, the non-elites also know that going too far outside the approved narratives will end their careers.

  34. 34
    catclub says:

    @Upper West: “One thing wasn’t clear about the article—Whether M & O have actually turned down appearances because the same show had right wingers on.”

    I thought it was pretty clear. They said: “Why are you having Republicans on to contrast with us? We are not Democrats.” And had turned those down.

    Three major stories that have gotten swept under the rug:
    This, Mann and Ornstein, the Generals who are DOD consultants and also press ‘experts’ on the Iraq war. and the paper on Israel and any coverage that is not decided pro-AIPAC.

  35. 35
    stratplayer says:

    How on earth does Ornstein still have his job at the American Enterprise Institute? Haven’t others there been forced out for heresy? Didn’t Frum get the heave-ho for deviating from the party line?

  36. 36
    The Moar You Know says:

    We have a viciously partisan press along 19th Cen lines, but only on the Right

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: True. While we have lefties who weep copious butthurt tears into their chai lattes about how unfair it all is, people who wouldn’t pick up a stick and fight for anything even if their children were getting beaten to death by a mob of TeaTards in their electric scooters.

    The right may need to find decency, but the left desperately needs to find their balls.

  37. 37
    Ben Franklin says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Most journalists I’ve met are smart, hard-working middle-class people.

    Echoing your point. The death of print has been forewarned for decades. Journos used to be hard-core equalizers because they mixed with the rabble, and understood the plight. They were poorly paid, but the lifestyle gave them satisfaction that dollars won’t provide.

    Now, they are hard-core status-quo advocates, because their lavish lifestyle must be preserved at all costs.

  38. 38
    Roger Moore says:

    @liberal:

    On a related note, while I think there’s something to the claim that the MSM “wanted” a close race in 2012 because it would sell more, I also think that if there was a close race that really threatened elite perogatives, they wouldn’t want it close.

    They might not want it close, but they might still be afraid to call it too far in favor of the candidate they prefer. Basically, I think that their reputations are a lot more vulnerable to a mistake about who wins than to a mistake about the margin of victory. If they say the election is too close to call, they’ll be OK if it’s anything short of a landslide. Since the current political landscape is likely to deny either candidate an electoral college landslide, that makes it a very safe call in anything but an obvious realignment election. OTOH, if they say the race is relatively safe for one candidate and the other guy wins, they’ll wind up with egg on their faces. So the incentive is for them to call the race as closer than it actually is, even if they might be pulling for one candidate.

  39. 39
    The Moar You Know says:

    Now, they are hard-core status-quo advocates, because their lavish lifestyle must be preserved at all costs.

    @Ben Franklin: Ummm, that was not my point. No journalist I know save for the one who married rich has anything close to a “lavish lifestyle”. Three of them are now right on the ragged edge of poverty.

  40. 40
    Mike G says:

    Corporate media will never piss off their paymasters; reporting unvarnished truth would cost them Repuke and Repuke-leaning corporation advertising money. So it’s always pulling punches, emperor-has-no-clothes fabulism and mealy-mouthed “both sides do it” garbage.

  41. 41
    Calouste says:

    @Jewish Steel:

    Ah, no. The principle that the British music press operates under is that the first album a band releases is the bestest best album ever in the history of everything, and the moment the band goes on tour or start talking about a second album or so, they are complete sell outs who play their instruments like three-year-olds.

  42. 42
    Ben Franklin says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I was referring to media of all stripes in that sentence, but there are still print journos who do well, through ancillary activity. Writing a successful book used to be the only way to achieve wealth, for print adherents.

    The switch seems to have occurred in the late 60’s to early 70’s with infotainment News.

    Lots more money in that venture.

  43. 43
    Ridnik Chrome says:

    Props on the Mekons ref in the title. Was just listening to “Fear and Whiskey” this morning, while getting ready to leave for work. Great album, great band…

  44. 44
    The Moar You Know says:

    @Ben Franklin: Gotcha.

    Christine Chubbuck showed us the way, no? If only all the participants in infotainment had her sense of innate decency, the world would be a better place.

  45. 45
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    people who wouldn’t pick up a stick and fight for anything even if their children were getting beaten to death by a mob of TeaTards in their electric scooters.

    I blame Michael Dukakis. It’s been downhill ever since he fucked up his answer to that debate question in 1988: Governor, what would you do if another man gave your wife a foot massage?

  46. 46
    Brachiator says:

    @DougJ:

    Most journalists I’ve met are smart, hard-working middle-class people.

    As always, your mileage may vary. As many journalists I’ve met and worked with were hacks or racists, or did the bidding of racist and hack editors and publishers. That they were middle class did not imbue them with either nobility or immunity. That they were smart or hard-working did not mean that they did not toe the company line.

    Here’s a little on the battles between Upton Sinclair and LA Times editor Kyle Palmer (one of the powers behind Richard Nixon’s rise in California politics):

    Well, of course, the newspapers at that time were extremely reactionary throughout the state. They were owned by families that had a lot of money at stake. And, you know, Sinclair, bless his heart, had been one of the leading media critics of his day. We think of Sinclair today as this muckraker, like an investigative journalist or something. He was mainly a novelist, and even The Jungle is a novel. So what the newspapers would do is they would take some outrageous thing that a character in one of Sinclair’s novels said and would pretend that Sinclair had said it himself. So they would put it right on the front page and have him believing in free love and giving away money to everyone and hating the church. So, yeah, the newspapers were in the forefront of the fight.
    __
    The political editor of The Los Angeles Times was a real kingmaker. His name was Kyle Palmer. And you cite this really amazing anecdote when he’s having a conversation with The New York Times’ star reporter
    __
    Turner came out there to cover the campaign in a fairly evenhanded way and was amazed there was no coverage about Sinclair at all in The L.A. Times, except for all the negative shots. And so he asked Kyle Palmer, how can you get away with only covering one campaign? And Palmer said, Turner, forget it. We don’t go in for that kind of crap that you have back in New York of being obliged to print both sides. We’re going to beat this son-of-a-bitch Sinclair any way we can. We’re going to kill him.

    Of course, not every journalist was a sell-out. Many of them were doing everything they could to buy into the ruling class or to serve them as faithfully as they could.

    And as other posters have noted, the Village is its own special place, where the joy of kissing up to the rich and powerful, and achieving fame and regular invites to the Sunday pundit shows is as powerful an aphrodisiac as a fat paycheck.

    And yeah, I’ve also met dependably lefty writers, including one whose parents were so radical that they named her Ninel, a backwards tribute to one of the founders of the Communist Party in Russia.

    But this nostalgia about solidly middle class proletarian journos is largely hazy nonsense.

  47. 47
    A moocher says:

    I \heart Mekons.

    That is all.

  48. 48
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Our last domestic tumbrel-manufacturing plants were closed and off-shored years ago. Not only that, but Ames/Tru Value closed the last US pitchfork-manufacturing plant, in West Virginia, seven years ago.

    So what you’ve got is a horde of sans-culottes storming the Bastille with Wii remotes in their hands.

  49. 49
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    In the spirit of fairness, I’d like to see these two left-wing polemicists balanced by Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen.

  50. 50
    khead says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    We found an old scythe when cleaning out my Dad’s basement. I have no idea where it came from or why he had it. But I’m saving it for the next revolution….

    …or a kick ass Grim Reaper costume.

  51. 51
    👽 Martin says:

    People with high-paying jobs will, as a rule, always seek professional safety. Period. Full stop.

    There’s an argument for unions in there.

  52. 52
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: But Jim and Mike are even handed professional journalists. How could they balance anyone?

  53. 53

    The consolidated winger response has been: “It is totally elitist not to present the opposing viewpoints and let the reader decide”. What….the….fuck?

  54. 54
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    So what you’ve got is a horde of sans-culottes storming the Bastille with Wii remotes in their hands.

    So our only hope is if they’ve already hacked the cheat codes to the fortress?

  55. 55
    Mandalay says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    While we have lefties who weep copious butthurt tears into their chai lattes about how unfair it all is, people who wouldn’t pick up a stick and fight for anything even if their children were getting beaten to death by a mob of TeaTards in their electric scooters.

    You have strung together a load of tired cliches, no different to those on the right who rant about “Volvo drivers”, “treehuggers”, “feminazis” and “food stamps”, to belittle those on the left. Fuck your couch potato sneering and pontificating.

    The right may need to find decency, but the left desperately needs to find their balls.

    Really? With friends like you the left doesn’t need enemies. Here are some headlines in Google news right now:

    Approximately 50 workers for the Communications Workers of America union interrupted a cancer benefit in Times Square on Thursday to protest their stalled contract talks with Cablevision Systems Corporation

    Police are planning to close down roads around the Michigan Capitol ahead of major union protests Tuesday surrounding the expected passage of “right-to-work” legislation

    Cooper Union Tuition Protest Grows With Support From Faculty, Silence From Administration

    Protests Backed by Union Get Wal-Mart’s Attention

    Nurses at Holy Family Hospital are planning on holding a demonstration tonight to bring public awareness to what their union says are “dangerous” management practices forcing them to care for too many patients at once.

    Unions revive in Oregon and nationwide as longshoremen lead the tide

    Pro-Choice New York released a statement Thursday crediting the governor and the new Legislature with making women’s rights a priority.

    Why don’t you go tell them to “find their balls”?

  56. 56
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    It is totally elitist

    That battle is already lost when our media elites, and make no bones about it, they are elites if nothing else then simply by virtue of having access to a very expensive set of microphones and cameras that most people don’t get to play with, when they respond to such complaints from the Right with anything other than:

    “Yes, and so what? Yes, it is elitist, as it very well should be. We are trained professionals. We’ve spent years practicing at being good at this, and you have not. That is why we are the reporters and you are in the audience, and not the other way around. Because everyone else in the audience has good reason to trust us, and not to trust you.”

    Sadly, the number of people in our media today who are willing to say that, that number is even smaller than the number who have the background and experience and proven results to say it with any sort of moral authority. Both are very small numbers.

  57. 57
    Elizabelle says:

    Here’s NYTimes public editor (ombudsman), Margaret Sullivan.

    In one of the most fascinating media-related pieces I’ve read in a while, Dan Froomkin interviews Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, two longtime Washington observers who wrote a book together and soon after, they say, found themselves near pariahs in a city that didn’t want to hear what they had to say.

    They say?

    Are Mann and Ornstein untruthful? Habitual liars?

    Is there no objective way to figure out whether their ideas were welcomed, and gained larger play in a public discussion, which might have been covered in numerous papers of record, or whether they sank like a stone??

    and then:

    But to take it one step further, I believe that fact-checking should be more integrated into every story and not treated as a separate entity off to the side.
    __
    And I think the two commentators fail to see the progress that The Times and other newspapers are making – away from false equivalence and toward stating established truths and challenging falsehoods whenever possible.
    __
    That progress, granted, isn’t happening fast enough or – more important — sweepingly enough.

    What a brave stand.

    But, like, wasn’t fact-checking, in every story, the NYTimes’ mission and why journalism enjoys First Amendment protection?

    And do note that Sullivan admits that the NYT has been practicing false equivalence. Refreshing.

  58. 58

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: I sometimes respond with Charlie Pierce’s bit:

    It will be the policy to operate on the principle that, while there may be two sides to every question, rarely are they both right. If this blog sees a man walking down the street with a duck on his head, it will report that it saw a man walking down the street with a duck on his head. It will not need two sources for that. It will not seek out someone to tell it that what it really saw was a duck walking down the street with a guy on its ass.

  59. 59
    JustRuss says:

    @Brachiator:

    But this nostalgia about solidly middle class proletarian journos is largely hazy nonsense.

    Maybe, but I can remember when it wasn’t unusual to see editorials by Molly Ivins and even, gasp, Ralph Nader in the local paper. Now I live in a liberal college town, and all we get is Mona Charen, Bill O’Reilly, and George F-ing Will.

  60. 60
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    Actually, I think the nostalgia is for the scrappy working class reporters of yore, not middle class ones. The guys in The Front Page (or the best version thereof, His Girl Friday) who smoked and drank and told stories that the patrol cops had told them.

    Of course, nostalgia for those guys is still misguided, unless anyone thinks the protagonist of Ace in the Hole is someone to be nostalgic for.

  61. 61
    Hungry Joe says:

    Now, they are hard-core status-quo advocates, because their lavish lifestyle must be preserved at all costs.

    Not really, save for a few at the very top. Here’s how things have changed in just a generation: I was hired as a reporter at a major daily in 1988. My annual wages came to $39,500 (about $74,000 in 2012 dollars), the top minimum in our Newspaper Guild contract.

    The owner/publisher spent ten years and (it’s been estimated) more than a million dollars to bust the union, which she finally did. Over the next decade they got rid of most of us who were making decent money; with us, of course, went experience and institutional memory. A few weeks ago they advertised for a couple of full-time business reporters. Salary: $40,000.

  62. 62
    Mandalay says:

    @JustRuss:

    Now I live in a liberal college town, and all we get is Mona Charen, Bill O’Reilly, and George F-ing Will.

    Columnists in a paper are there because the publisher is trying to cater for the expected audience, which is generally old white people, so conservative columnists are the norm. Just as the Sunday morning shows feature McCain and ads for bladder problems, and AM radio is dominated by right wing talk shows.

    The majority of people reading your paper and watching the talk shows probably don’t want to hear from Robert Fisk and Matt Taibi.

  63. 63
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    also, too, MSNBC is just like FoxNews.

    BRZEZINSKI: I feel like there’s a disconnect. First of all, you’ve got a lot of Republicans promulgating small businesses will be hurt. It’s not true. But I also feel like in return, there is this concept that Republicans are looking like the boogeyman who want to take away Medicare from everybody when they really want to make it solvent.

  64. 64
    Origuy says:

    In July 1968, George Wallace told a reporter, “You reporters are for McCarthy, aren’t you; and your editors are for Humphrey; but your pressmen are for me.” Of course, he was running for the Democratic nomination at the time, so he didn’t mention that the publishers were for Nixon or Reagan.

    In 2012, the pressmen are out of a job, the editors want to be publishers, and the reporters think they should be on TV.

  65. 65
    Brachiator says:

    @JustRuss:

    RE: But this nostalgia about solidly middle class proletarian journos is largely hazy nonsense.

    Maybe, but I can remember when it wasn’t unusual to see editorials by Molly Ivins and even, gasp, Ralph Nader in the local paper. Now I live in a liberal college town, and all we get is Mona Charen, Bill O’Reilly, and George F-ing Will.

    True. And you have had even handed, funny columnists like Art Buchwald and liberal editorial cartoonists like the great Paul Conrad in the LA Times. There has definitely been a curdling of syndicated opinion. Still, the idea that there has ever been an army of honest working class reporters doesn’t come close to the history of American journalism.

    @Mnemosyne:

    Actually, I think the nostalgia is for the scrappy working class reporters of yore, not middle class ones. The guys in The Front Page (or the best version thereof, His Girl Friday) who smoked and drank and told stories that the patrol cops had told them.

    And even His Girl Friday was bathed in an awareness of the often crass cynicism of the working press. But I agree that these are some great cinematic examples of the press.

    Of course, nostalgia for those guys is still misguided, unless anyone thinks the protagonist of Ace in the Hole is someone to be nostalgic for.

    Oh yes. And a film like A Face in the Crowd can be seen as a study in the rise and fall of a Rush Limbaugh style pundit huckster. It’s funny how some of the contemporary reviews of the film claimed that the character played by Andy Griffith could never happen in America.

  66. 66
    Patricia Kayden says:

    “But history will no doubt record that withering Republicans were finally wiped from the earth in 2016 when the relentless (and rested) Conquistadora Hillary marched in, General Bill on a horse behind her, and finished them off.”

    Best line from Maureen Dowd’s brilliant NY Times piece. Can’t wait for 2016.

  67. 67
    handsmile says:

    @Mnemosyne: , @Brachiator:

    Nostalgic for the journalism of Ace in the Hole? How can one be nostalgic for something that illumines practices and ethics that we still confront every day as news consumers?

    Hoffman/Redford as Woodstein may be the aspirational models for today’s journalists, but its Kirk Douglas as Chuck Tatum from whom they learn how to play the game.

    Brachiator: weren’t you singing the praises of Billy Wilder the other day? Let me add a belated hosanna.

  68. 68
    Brachiator says:

    @handsmile:

    weren’t you singing the praises of Billy Wilder the other day? Let me add a belated hosanna.

    Oh, yes. Folks with Netflix, Amazon Prime and similar services should just dial up Billy Wilder as a suggestion and create a mini-film festival.

    And speaking of movies about curdled, cynical media folk, Alexander Mackendrick’s Sweet Smell of Success is right up there.

  69. 69
    handsmile says:

    @Brachiator:

    “Cat’s in the bag, and the bag’s in the river….”

    Curdled? That movie is sulphuric.

  70. 70
    Wolfdaughter says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    True. While we have lefties who weep copious butthurt tears into their chai lattes about how unfair it all is, people who wouldn’t pick up a stick and fight for anything even if their children were getting beaten to death by a mob of TeaTards in their electric scooters.

    The right may need to find decency, but the left desperately needs to find their balls.

    I think you’re using an overly broad brush here. Obama just rewon the presidency, and the Senate is more solidly Dem, thanks to thousands of volunteers who gave of time or money (or both), to overcome the blatant efforts of the Repubs to disenfranchise fellow citizens. We do need to maintain those efforts, though.

  71. 71
    amk says:

    @Yutsano:

    We need to expunge the ghost of David Broder from all pundits consciousness.

  72. 72
    low-tech cyclist says:

    It’s as long as you would expect from something involving Thomas Mann

    Dude, I read The Magic Mountain once. If this piece is even one-tenth as long, I’m taking a raincheck.

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