In December a Federal District Judge, Marco Hernandez, ruled against blogger Crystal Cox who was being sued for defamation by attorney Kevin Padrick, whom Cox accused of corruption on her blog. The ruling declared that as a blogger, Cox was not a journalist and cannot claim the protections afforded to mainstream reporters and news. I happen to agree with his decision, but the case raises the question about what actually defines a journalist. Considering what the mainstream media represents today, the line between genuine reportage and political advocacy has been completely blurred.
In the past, many famous and well-respected journalists had no formal training but honed their craft on the job, in many cases beginning their careers as copy boys/copy girls. Walter Cronkite, once cited as the most trusted man in America, was a college dropout who had a series of newspaper jobs reporting news and sports. Eric Sevareid, Chet Huntley, and David Brinkley started their careers as broadcast journalists but never had journalism degrees. Dan Rather did receive a degree in journalism, and we can see how well that turned out once he decided to switch to advocacy journalism instead of the traditional who, what, when, where and how protocol of traditional journalism.
Advocacy journalism intentionally and transparently adopts a non-objective viewpoint for either a political or social agenda and has morphed today into nothing less than media bias and propaganda. Today the mainstream media is predominantly composed of liberal democrats, and this bias has been quite evident since the 2008 presidential race. There is also a marked difference between opinion and reportage journalism.
I have a hard time claiming to be a member of the fourth estate, although I have been writing for newspapers since 1998 as an op-ed columnist. During that time, however, I have covered news events and press conferences and submitted non-opinion articles. I never attended Journalism College, nor have I even taken one writing course. I had to drop out of college to support my mother who had had a stroke. Mark Steyn, who is a brilliant writer, never attended college at all but can write reams around many inhabiting the elitist realm of the New York Times.
Although I have little regard for Stephen Colbert as a comedian or a pundit, I must give him kudos for calling George Stephanopoulos a political operative on ABC’s “This Week.” Real journalist David Brinkley was the first host of this political news program, followed by Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts. Stephanopoulos earned his political science degree at Columbia University and he has been a Democrat political lion ever since, apparently making him a desirable spokesman for the party’s agenda.
I’ll never forget the weekend before the 1992 presidential election when George H.W. Bush was rising in the polls against William Jefferson Clinton. He appeared on CNN’s Larry King show, another Democrat stooge, and when King supposedly took calls from the public, which call came in first? Why, it was from Clinton’s chief political adviser, George Stephanopoulos. Imagine the odds of that happening. He had called to remind Bush that Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh had that day re-indicted Weinberger on one count of “false statements.” Walsh went even further, specifically implicating Bush in the scandal, though the accusation was irrelevant, but this put the nail in the coffin for Bush’s reemerging campaign.
MSNBC, a cable station claiming to be “a leader in breaking news, video and original journalism,” is anything but. It is stocked with partisan Democrat anchors and, in one instance, Morning Joe Scarborough, a former Republican RINO. Al Sharpton? Chris Matthews? Rachel Maddow? Lawrence O’Donnell? These are journalists?
Even as an opinion writer, I made sure I bolstered my opinion with fact and I polished my craft at the New York Sun under the tutelage of Seth Lipsky, one of the best of the old school journalists. If one of my columns presented negative material on a subject, I was told to contact that person for confirmation or denial of the piece or it wouldn’t be published.
Watching MSNBC is a chore and an exercise in frustration waiting for the other side of the story. It simply will not be presented. Instead we are treated with angry scowls and insulting language thrown at Republicans. Let’s not forget those thrills up and down Matthews’ leg.
On the other hand, CNBC has the excellent Larry Kudlow, who never fails to have opposing sides present their cogent arguments, leaving it up to the audience to decide. Fox News used to be fair and balanced until they threw Glenn Beck under the bus and brought on Karl Rove as a contributor in spite of the fact that this “genius” was a truly bad adviser for President Bush.
For anyone looking for true journalistic integrity, the only sources left are the Breitbart sites. When I was recruited to write for Big Journalism by my former Sun editor Michael Walsh, I was mandated to shore up my column with videos, documents, photos and other credible data. The truth is truly out there–here–regardless of which side is vindicated.
Like most readers, I was led by the conservative press and Matt Drudge to believe that the White House had hidden an elaborate, Halloween party with Hollywood stars from the public. The WH felt it wouldn’t be wise to show this extravagance during a recession, the right and left media told us, but the real story was left to be told by Dana Loesch of BigJournalism.com.
Seems the party was funded by the celebrities for the military and their families. So why the secrecy? Maybe it was a trap set for conservatives to rage about–only to look like fools for bashing a good deed. Who knows?
The media today is filled with “gotcha journalists” bent on reelecting the one they helped elect in 2008. I think I’ll stick to just being called a writer. The word journalist has a distinct smell to it.