Posted by Brad @ 1:45 pm on June 25th 2010

In Other Journalism News

To me, the most interesting aspect of the McChrystal business is how it lays bare the failings of modern journalism. You think General McChrystal and his team have never conducted themselves that way in front of a reporter before? I doubt it. You think a whole lot of reporters on that beat didn’t know what Hastings was the first to directly report? BS. The only difference was, this was the first time when the reporter involved didn’t give a shit.

Andrew Sullivan’s got a great post that cuts to the quick of it. Quoting David Morris:

I think McChrystal and his buddies didnít expect that Hastings would actually write down everything they said and put it into print. Itís an unfortunate staple of Beltway journalism that has bled over into war reporting that most reporters are loathe to burn their sources by writing derogatory things about them. To be blunt, most reporters are as career-obsessed as the officers theyíre interviewing and they donít want to poison the well. This is doubly true if the officer being interviewed is a four-star general. There is a simple reciprocity involved: if you want to be invited back to ride on The Bossís helicopter, if you want continued access, youíd better not write about his soft spot for strippers and gin.

And as Sully adds:

That sums up so much of Washington journalism. Which is why every expert defense reporter and every established journalist treated Stanley McChrystal as if he were God until they were scooped by a free-lancer who didn’t give a shit about his Washington “reputation”.

On the heels of the water fight between Rahm and Biden and the press pool, could there be a more distinct contrast? If Rahm Emmanuel were to stand in front of Sullivan’s colleague Marc Ambinder and blast away at what a dickhead Biden is, think we’d hear about it? Does Sullivan?

Not to pick on Ambinder, who merely aspires to be as cozy as guys like David Gregory already are, but Rojas earlier thought that there must have been some ulterior motive behind McChrystal’s comments, that surely he’s preparing a run for the GOP nomination because that’s the only logical explanation for how somebody could engage in behavior that patently insane.

Except, I don’t think his behavior was insane at all, because in his circles, it’s taken as a given that random patter of that sort doesn’t make the sheet. Ever wonder why so many politicians get caught in embarrassing hot mike moments? It’s because that’s how they’re talking constantly before the mikes ever get put on. I guarantee Dick Cheney said plenty worse shit in front of reporters on a regular basis. Think Chris Wallace is going to bring that to you? Most of them just wet their pants to be in the same room as someone that close to power. And the subjects damn well know it, and also know that simply adding them to the brush-off list can screw their entire careers. So, politicians and reporters have a sort of mutually assured destruction pact going on, and it locks us, the simp readers and viewers, out of the process entirely.

1 Comment »

  1. And wait until you read this:
    http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/07/bill-keller-explains-why-the-press-is-broken/

    Sometimes, when it comes to the press, I want to go all Al Pacino and “TAKE A FLAMETHROWER” to the place.

    Comment by thimbles — 7/4/2010 @ 6:52 pm

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