Quick, turn on E! so we can see if he’s dating JWoww!

Color me utterly uninterested that Rick Santorum uttered a naughty word or barked at a New York Times reporter.

But since it appears we have to be forced to micro-focus on such non-events during elections years, here are some ways to cover the “story” that seem at least somewhat relevant: Were the questions he was being asked fair?  Was his response called for?  If we are going to try some bend-over-backward extrapolation of how this small exchange with reporters acts as a trip to Delphi to view an advanced screening of President Santorum, what do we make of it?  Is he a powerful man of conviction, or a McCain-esque hot head?  OK, so none of these are actually interesting questions. But at least they are somewhat relevant to the election, if even in the most microscopic way.

You know what’s not at all relevant?  What the New York Times reporter personally thought about Santorum’s quick outburst, and whatever other gossipy things he had to say about the stars in Hollywood Washington.

CBS This Morning’s “tell-all” interview with the Times reporter* might be the best microcosm I can think of about what is wrong with journalism today. The job of the journalist is less and less about collecting data, uncovering hidden facts, or even holding up truth to power.  Instead, it’s becoming an industry that thrives on treating its members as it’s own special kind of celebrity.  Most cable news has been this way for a long time, and it’s success (sadly) drives the whole industry these days.  The purpose of Hannity, Beck, Maddow, Olbermann, O’Reilly, et al has become Hannity, Beck, Maddow, Olbermann, O’Reilly, et al.  Which is bad enough as it is, but it bleeds into everything else.

In this case, CBS This Morning allowed itself to become the latest Real Housewives-type reality show so that historical-footnotes-to-be Rick Santorum and a guy from the Times can continue their public cat fight, each temporarily boosting the Q rating of the other.  And what’s sad is that this grasping for one’s 15 minutes is no longer the exception, it’s the rule.

Sarah Palin is an elected official, except that she’s not, because she’s a journalist, except that she’s not, because that she’s running for office, except that she’s not, because she’s nothing more than a media figure, except that she’s not.  People now run for national office as a springboard to lucrative contracts with FOX.  Or morning shows with MSNBC.  Or whatever the fish it is that Herman Cain is doing.

The thing of it that really grates me, though, is that with all of these “journalists” I don’t get the feeling that the carrot they chase is a nice financial Quick, turn on E! so we can see if he's dating JWoww!payday. Instead, when I look at them the impression I get is that more than anything they just want to be famous.  They want to be celebrities that others look at and fawn over, giggling and whispering about their import.  I never got the sense that Andrew Breitbart’s goal was to change the American landscape so much as it was to be “the man,” which is why it always seemed so hard for him to have people who were not him in front of the camera.  I think the same thing about Keith Olbermann.

Is this Gray Lady-fingered episode the worst example of journalists being “All ABout Me” that has ever happened?  Hell, I don’t think it’s the worst example from this past week.  (Though I confess seeing a print journalist from the NYT involved makes it all that more sad in my eyes.)  But I know that my fellow bloggers at other sites are going to be driving up our nations bandwidth discussing either how awesome it was that Santorum put that commie fish wrapper in its place, or that the NYT reporter put that fascist pig in his place.  Few, I suspect, are going to to be saying what should most be said about this weekend’s hubbub: that the goal of a journalist that forced an answer from a Presidential candidate should not be to cash in to become an “instant celebrity.”

 

*Sorry, I refuse to use the reporter’s name in this post.  He’s a freaking reporter.  For a newspaper.  Unless he’s buying me a beer at the airport bar, I should never have reason to know his name.

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40 thoughts on “Quick, turn on E! so we can see if he’s dating JWoww!

  1. This isn’t really a response to this post, but have you watched Maddow? I’ll admit i haven’t watched her show in quite a while so maybe its changed. But she really doesn’t’ fit in with the blowhard brigade and does engage in actual thoughtful respectful discussion. She has a point of view which she does not in any way apologize for or engage in spin about being  fair and balanced.

    The rest of the post…oh yes..very true and sad. Shallowness and lack of actual investigation is the  worst bias of the MSM.

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  2. Well, Jeff Zeleny is not exactly  Mr. unknown reporter hungry for instant celebrity, he’s pretty well-known already, no? He seems to think Santorum wasn’t really angry, just doing it for effect sso he can campaign on “I was tough on those biased MSM guys!”

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    • This does seem to be a Republican theme–oh those nasty guys in the mainstream media, they’re out to get me. It also seems to be a sure winner for Republican candidates. Palin, Gingrich, and Santorum have all made bashing the “liberal” media a staple of their campaigns–red meat for the base.

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            • And you get the full story from conservative media like Fox? Hell, you’re lucky if you even get the facts. All media has a bias of one kind or another, which is why it’s worthwhile to make an effort to get news from different sources. And if you stay away from cable news infotainment.

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              • I get both sides, Fiona.  I’m bilingual.  Did you hear this one?  Very disturbing.

                 

                “…a hot microphone picked up the following exchange between President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev :

                President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him (apparently referring to Vladimir Putin) to give me space.

                President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…

                President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

                President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

                What, precisely, are “all these issues” (besides missile defense) that President Obama plans to solve in his second term? Why has he shared them with the Russian president but not the American people?

                Why the reference to his “last election?” Would he not be able to do what he wants if he had to stand for reelection?

                 

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                • FWIW, if you google (as I just did now) “hot mic Obama” you get immediate links to this story from CBS, ABC, LA TImes, Washington Post, Chicago Sun Times, msnbc, CNN, and media-ite before FOX.

                  So sidetracking the issue of whether or not what Obama said was true or proper, the narrative that the MSM is ignoring this story does not appear to bear weight.

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                  • This one’s too big to bury, RTod, and too new for me to be alleging that.  I asked Fiona if she’d heard of it.  Had you?

                    I’m very disturbed by this, and the point of your OP was that we focus on trivia.  Well, we’ll see what comes of this, because this is serious [although Mr. Greg has already tried to wave it away.]

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                    • I have to be honest that I’m not sure what I think of it yet.  On the one hand, I assume any President running for a second term plots out what they are going to do and say differently in the election year than they do otherwise.  I am also sure they privately say this (in confidence!) to world leaders, party leaders, and donors.  So in that fashion it seems quite the dog bites man story.

                      And yet I can’t deny that it’s disturbing to see it being done.

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                    • Tom–yes, of course I’ve heard of it. It’s been all over the news. And the Republican candidates have wasted no time in pouncing on it.

                      I realize that you think most of the media is in the bag for Obama, but that’s just not the case.

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                    • I don’t know how serious it is, given that what Obama said is basically true. Given the hyper-charged election year politics, it’ s not likely he’s going to be able to get any kind of treaty through Congress now. If he does get re-elected (and he seems to assume he will), then he’s likely to have more flexibility to negotiate.

                      And yeah, unless he plans to run for some other office after the presidency, this is his last election. Last I checked, the Constitution limits presidents to two terms.

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                • OMG last election!!!! Do you mean O won’t stand for other elections after this one. Why every other ex-president has continued to run for all sorts of offices. Or actually ex-presidents don’t do that so no matter what the outcome of this election this will be O’s last one.

                  Of course there won’t be an election for Marxist Dictator, so that doesn’t count.

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  3. It’s gotten to the point where I can barely watch television “news” anymore because it’s almost all about the personalities and less and less about the actual events that make up the news. Analysis seems largely limited to presenting stereotypical “liberal” and “conservative” viewpoints from selected-and-approved pundits without any recognition that events might be more nuanced than the typical left-right dialogue. When I can pretty much repeat what the pundits have to say before they say it, I lose interest.

    This whole making news of nonsense (last week’s etch-a-sketch fiasco comes to mind but there have been so very many others) to fill a 24-7-365 schedule is also disheartening. We’re drowning in infotainment.

     

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  4. Headline from Yahoo! news:
    Authorities Question Strass-Kahn in Prostitution Probe

    First of all, using the word “probe” right next to “prostitution” can easily give the wrong impression.
    Secondly, this makes it look as if the authorities are willing to learn from the master.

    Aaah, headlines…

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  5. “Bullshit” is a naughty word? I thought it was just a concise term for “made up self-serving story”.I have little use for Santorum, but I wouldn’t hold it against him or anyone else to use that word in public.

    A Princeton professor recently wrote an article (published in a reputable journal) trying to tease out more exactly the definition of bullshit, and came up with the conclusion that bullshit is worse than a lie, because by telling a lie, someone is acknowledging that s/he knows the difference between truth and non-truth. By lying, someone is implying that truth matters enough to obscure it.. Whereas bullshit is borne of a total disregard for whether a truth or fact of the matter even exists or is relevant.

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