Dirty Journalists keep Politicians Clean
Poor Rupert Murdoch. He’s getting no love from the British Establishment over the phone hacking scandal. Those who once courted the “feral beast” (British tabloids) are turning against it. Probably because the other political party wooed them more successfully. And if you’re in politics, you want them on your side. Because they’re good at their jobs (see In Defense of Hacks by Toby Harnden posted 7/21/2011 on Foreign Policy).
Whereas our American counterparts have long viewed themselves as comparable to lawyers and doctors, we British hacks still see ourselves as practitioners of a grubbing craft rather than members of an upstanding profession. (The public, which views us as on a par with real estate agents, prostitutes and perhaps even criminals, tends to agree.)
Yes, they’re less Walter Cronkite and more Louie De Palma (a character on the American sitcom Taxi). For a good journalist knows how to get dirty. Like Louie, a good journalist is born dirty.
While the American press has certainly had its share of similar disgraces, it is true that American newspaper articles are in the main more accurate and better-researched than British ones; the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal was not wrong when it ventured that Fleet Street has “long had a well-earned global reputation for the blind-quote, single-sourced story that may or may not be true.” But stories in the American press also tend to be tedious, overly long, and academic, written for the benefit of po-faced editors and Pulitzer panels rather than readers. There’s a reason a country with a population one-fifth the size of that of the United States buys millions more newspapers each week.
For all their faults, British “rags” are more vibrant, entertaining, opinionated, and competitive than American newspapers. We break more stories, upset more people, and have greater political impact.
That’s the way American journalism was before the Political Class co-opted it. And why ordinary Americans once read newspapers. To keep an eye on the scoundrels we put into elected office. It was one of the few things that kept our elected officials somewhat honest. Or, at least, honest enough not to lose the next election.
In fact, for the British press, the most damaging revelation of the phone-hacking scandal is the degree to which it shows that journalists — or, to be more precise, News International executives — breached the inner sanctums of the British Establishment. A breed that had always taken pride in being made up of grubby outsiders was allowed in and made the most of the opportunity.
In the United States, journalists are already on the inside: Witness President Barack Obama’s private chats with op-ed columnists, the Washington Post and Time magazine types who effortlessly segue into White House press secretaries and the cozy consensus of Washington’s political-journalism-industrial complex. All too often, American editors, perhaps mindful of their future cocktail party invitations, would prefer their reporters stroke rather than stick it to authority. British journalistic excesses can rightly be condemned, but the American media could use a few more of them. It took the National Enquirer to bring Senator John Edwards to book — and Fleet Street would not have stood for the credulous U.S. reporting on the Bush administration that characterized the run-up to the Iraq war.
That’s the last thing you want. Your journalists getting all warm and cozy with the people they’re supposed to keep honest. You don’t want the media to be an adjunct of one party, following orders to advance an agenda while launching personal attacks on the other party. A good journalist should hate all political authority equally. And show no favoritism when destroying political careers.
It is the very politicians who used every opportunity to ingratiate themselves with Murdoch and his acolytes who are now those calling for News International to be broken up — and for the media as a whole to be called to account. Their aim? A regulation system — probably headed up by new a government-appointed “independent” body — that produces a neutered press close to the American model. Having visited Washington and seen reporters stand up when the American president enters the room (British hacks do no such thing for the prime minister) and ask respectful, earnest three-part questions, no wonder our politicians would want more of the same.
The danger of the fevered atmosphere in Britain — where justified outrage over tabloid tactics is fast leading to a hasty public inquisition, with 10 official inquiries or investigations underway at last count — is that what Prime Minister Tony Blair once termed the “feral beast” of the media might be tamed and muzzled. Perhaps the worst outcome of all would be for it to be turned into an American-style lapdog.
If you want to learn about American politics (or journalism) read a British newspaper. The British Establishment hates and fears them. Because they do their job. Whereas in America, the Political Class only hates and fears FOX NEWS and talk radio (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc.). Which tells you where to go to get your news. Because if you want objective reporting, you have to go where they dare to be unflattering. Unlike the sycophants in the ‘mainstream’ media. For an unneutered feral beast is the only thing that will go for the political jugular. And restrain the excess of our elected scoundrels. I mean representatives.
And sometimes you need to get dirty. Because getting dirty is sometimes the only way to keep politicians clean.
Good Journalism is more Reporting and less Stroke
If you watch FOX NEWS or listen to talk radio you’ll hear a different ‘version’ of the news than that on the mainstream media. For example, the mainstream media has reported repeatedly polls citing that Americans want the Republicans to stop being intransigent and raise taxes already so the budget deal to raise the debt limit can move ahead. Interesting how that ‘report’ meshes perfectly with the Obama administration policy agenda. And yet Rasmussen reports a completely contrary poll finding (see Most Voters Fear Debt Deal Will Raise Taxes Too Much, Cut Spending Too Little posted 7/22/2011 on Rasmussen Reports).
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 62% of Likely U.S. Voters are worried more that Congress and President Obama will raise taxes too much rather than too little in any deal to end the debt ceiling debate. Just 26% fear they’ll raise taxes too little. Twelve percent (12%) aren’t sure. (To see survey question wording, click here…)
There’s a wide difference of opinion, however, between the Political Class and Mainstream voters. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of the Political Class is worried the deal will cut spending too much, while 63% of Mainstream voters fear it won’t cut spending enough. Those in the Mainstream worry more than Political Class voters by a near two-to-one margin – 70% to 37% – that the debt deal also will raise taxes too much.
It sounds like ordinary Americans don’t want higher taxes and more spending. In fact, they are worried that any deal may raise taxes too much or cut spending too little. Now this opposes the Obama administration policy agenda. So I wonder which journalism is more reporting and less stroke? And which is truer?
Entitlement Spending is the Cause of all our Budget Woes
Americans should be worried about raising taxes instead of cutting spending. Because there is a much bigger problem out there (see Missing the Debt by Yuval Levin posted 7/21/2011 on The Corner).
…starting in the 2050s, CBO projects that health-care spending will be greater than all other non-interest spending combined, and the federal government will basically be a health insurer with some unusual side ventures like an army and a navy.
…health-care entitlement spending is basically 100 percent of our medium and long-term debt problem.
That thing that Obama and the Democrats refuse to put on the table? Entitlement reform? Especially all the health care programs (Medicare, Medicaid and now Obamacare)? They’re the cause of all our budget woes. Ignoring this fact makes the budget debate pointless. It’s just political theatre. Fiddling while America burns. Pity we don’t have an unneutered feral beast to put this issue front and center. Besides FOX NEWS and talk radio, that is.
FOX NEWS will Report what the Political Class rather you not Hear
Interestingly, FOX NEWS is part of the Rupert Murdoch Empire. And those on the left viciously belittle it as not being ‘real’ news. But they sure incur the wrath of the Political Class. Which should tell you a thing or two. Because when it comes to news organizations, they only hate those who report things they’d rather you not hear.
Of course there is a chance that the FOX NEWS isn’t a legitimate news organization. And that they are only reporting inflammatory pieces to make a buck. And that the Political Class is pure and innocent as the winter’s snow. That everything they do is for our own best interests. Being the honest public servants that they are.
Yeah, right. Pull the other.