Who Watches The Watchers? We Do

The Columbia Journalism Review is a self-appointed “ombudsman” of the press. It’s mission statement is as follows:

Columbia Journalism Review’s mission is to encourage and stimulate excellence in journalism in the service of a free society. It is both a watchdog and a friend of the press in all its forms, from newspapers to magazines to radio, television, and the Web. Founded in 1961 under the auspices of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, CJR examines day-to-day press performance as well as the forces that affect that performance. The magazine is published six times a year, and offers a deliberative mix of reporting, analysis, criticism, and commentary. CJR.org, our Web site, delivers real-time criticism and reporting, giving CJR a vital presence in the ongoing conversation about the media. Both online and in print, Columbia Journalism Review is in conversation with a community of people who share a commitment to high journalistic standards in the U.S. and the world.

High goals. Professional journalists read this website / publication and are supposed to use it as a gauge to see if they’re doing their jobs properly. These are the alleged journalism experts. The “watchers” of the watchmen (the press). They’re meant to hold journalists accountable. They set them straight, if you will.

So I was shocked when I came across an item in their business press section, “The Audit.” This piece about the current coverage of the debt ceiling fiasco going on in Congress is a doozy. One section, in particular, made me literally say “bull[expletive deleted]!” out loud.

This one:

If you’re not reporting that the Republicans are ultimately to blame for the crisis here, then you’re not reporting the truth. The Democrats would vote to up the debt ceiling–which pays for bills we’ve already accrued (mostly under Republican presidents)–in a straight-up vote. Republicans want to attach stark conditions to the vote and risk defaulting on our obligations. Even beyond that, the Democrats have made trillions of dollars in concessions to the Republicans, and it still hasn’t been enough.

Can you believe this paragraph? According the CJR, you’re literally lying if you aren’t reporting that Republicans are ultimately to blame for the crisis. Literally. You’re not reporting “the truth.” Is there any other way to read that? The evidence offered up in support of this outlandish assertion is the “fact” that Democrats would vote to up the debt ceiling in a “straight-up vote.” I’m guessing that Ryan Chittum either can’t use Google (or any search engine) or he is lying. Why do I say that? Because I remember a straight-up vote being taken in the House earlier this year. It took me about 10 seconds to type in “clean debt ceiling vote” and find numerous articles about a vote taken on May 31, 2011. This year. Here’s one of the hits. (via BusinessInsider.com)

From the beginning, the Obama White House wanted a “clean” hike to the debt ceiling… in other words, an increase not tied to any substantial spending reforms or cuts.

That dream just died.

In a largely symbolic vote, the clean hike failed 318-97

There you go. A “straight-up vote”, as Chittum put it, and it was defeated with bipartisan support. Overwhelmingly bipartisan support. It was labeled a “largely symbolic vote” because everyone knew it wasn’t going to pass. Everyone, that is, except for Ryan Chittum who didn’t even know the vote happened. In case you were wondering, there aren’t 318 Republicans in the House of Representatives.

The article is nothing more than a talking point memo. What we have is guidance from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism on how the press is supposed to be spinning – not reporting, spinning – the debt ceiling negotiations.

I’ve written numerous posts about what I call the Left’s Ideological Iron Curtain. It’s the institutional bias in the press and academia. This one article is evidence of where these two worlds meet. When the top schools of journalism are putting out these kinds of ridiculously biased pieces for professional journalists to read, is it any wonder that the majority of the mainstream media has become the PR arm of the Democratic National Committee?

It’s now incumbent upon us to watch the alleged watchers of the watchers. They’ve been corrupted.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.