September 20, 2004

"trained in print and transfused with ink"

This post by Jeff Jarvis caused me to think a few thoughts...

...First, I am still a journalist, trained in print and transfused with ink. I hate to see colleagues act so deaf and dumb and I hate to see this business torn down from within, by the mendacious (Jayson Blair), the pompous (Howell Raines) or the clueless (Rather).
They are not the disease, they are a symptom...
Second, this story still has its roots in the mud of this campaign: ceaseless personal attacks made under the cloak of character as an issue.
Character IS the issue. If for no other reason than that without character you can't trust what someone says about the issues. Remember Clinton, the "New Democrat?" What were his campaign promises worth? Nothing, precisely because of lack of character.
If everything Michael Moore and Dan Rather said about Bush’s service and everything the Swifties said about John Kerry’s service were true, I wouldn’t give a rat’s rump. What a shock: Politicians treat the truth like taffy! Politicians use influence! Stop the presses! That’s news!
Rubbish. There is no moral equivalence here, though you Dems would like to have it so. If hundreds of Bush's TexANG contemporaries spontaneously arose to denounce him as a phony, THAT would perhaps be equivalent. If both sides were just slinging similar mud, Mary Mapes would not have hunted for five years without finding a single credible witness to Bush's supposed derelictions
We have urgent issues facing us in this election, issues that desperately need debate. I’d hoped Big Media would spur conversation about them — instead of going for the obvious, painting us as a nation divided (when we’re really just a nation deciding) and joining in the mud-slinging from both fringes. So much for media utopianism.
What you mean is you want Bush's policies to be debated and questioned. You wish we were a "nation deciding." Actually, we've gone BEYOND the specific issues to the larger issue: which party are we going to trust with the nation's future? And what is emerging, helped by the flying mud, is that Democrats have become a facade of lies, a pastiche of "moderation and normalcy" covering up a Michael-Moore reality. Kerry is a perfect symbol and example of this...
As a blogger, I’d also hoped that “we the people online” would have pressed Big Media to do better and would have turned our considerable fact-checking power on the coverage of and the candidates’ stands on issues that matter for our future, not our past. But we’ve been too busy arguing over Michael Moore, Swifties and Rather. Oh, well, we are human.
I too would like to see some big issues debated. Starting with the way, during a terrible global war, a certain party voted in the Senate to authorize a military campaign, and then dishonorably turned around and did all they could to undermine and discourage our soldiers in the field, and to encourage our enemies by hints of withdrawal, and by hints that they would find life easier if only they would help unseat Bush with more terrorist murders.
Jarvis ought to at least mention that it's VERY DIFFICULT to engage in debate when one candidate is so evasive that even his own supporters can't say what he stands for...

I just hope that bloggers aren’t seduced by the scoop and the gotcha as Big Media has been. As a reporter, I well understand the joy of the hunt, the thrill of the kill. But in this campaign, in print and online, the scoops haven’t been the real story. The real story is still out there.
Channeling Dan Rather...
I am proud of bloggers for fact-checking Big Media’s ass and improving news. I’m also proud that not all bloggers have been in lockstep on Rathergate; they have debated every point of forensic typography. That’s good. Debate is how we get to the truth. Debate is how we run a democracy.
Well, fine. But the memos debate was not exactly a debate, what with one side digging up facts and presenting them with logic, (and correcting errors immediately) and the other side throwing up a smoke-screen of obfuscation and doubt. Which is precisely the same thing that happens when we try to debate with Dan Rather, or try to debate with Democrats about the issues. It's all the same debate, which is why obsessing over superscripts is not a distraction from the issues.

Jeff said: “we the people online” should have pressed Big Media to do better.' Well, we have been. For instance, a frequent blogger theme is that Big Media should be pressing Kerry to release medical/service/tax records as Bush has. Of course pressing Big Media doesn't accomplish much, since they don't listen unless caught red-handed with something ghastly...

(Inspired by Bill Quick and his commenters...)

Posted by John Weidner at September 20, 2004 10:10 AM
Weblog by John Weidner