Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hopefully, "Objective Journalism" is On the Decline

A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.

This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt.

Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.
-- That's from a refreshingly direct and concise USA TODAY editorial.

Brian Williams discussed this editorial on his show last night with Robert Costa. Williams read some of the article aloud, and Costa said something about "wince-inducing." Williams didn't press Costa to expand on that point, which disappointed me, because it wasn't clear to me whether Costa was saying that is was Trump's behavior, or the editorial referring to it, was wince-inducing, and I'm actually afraid it may have been the latter. This would be an extreme example of "objective journalism" madness, saying that journalists can't call Trump a pig.

The USA TODAY editorial tells readers -- clearly and plainly -- what the President is like. I think that champions of "objective journalism" often forget that the vast majority of the public don't have all that much spare time to give to the politics which they, the reporters, study 24-7-365. Those reporters often seem to expect the public to read between the lines as well as they do.

I really like those skits by Jonathan Pie where he plays a political reporter for television, who says a lot of interesting and important things about politics as long as he's off the air, and the instant he goes back on the air he switches back to the typical "objective" zombie-journalist who is at great pains never to come right out and show what he actually thinks or feels about the politicians he reports about all day every day, feeling that he needs to put what he actually knows through the ridiculous filter of "objective journalism," so that only a tiny fraction of it reaches his viewers. Please, please, watch this:

Hunter S Thompson was explicitly opposed to the attempt on journalists' part to be objective, and stated that apart from things like box scores and stock-market results, there was no such thing as objective journalism. I completely agree, and I don't think I'm the only one who ever has -- for example, Jonathan Pie might agree. Still, 45 freakin years after Thompson wrote about it, laying out the case as reasonably, rationally and clearly as could be, it still appears that the number of political journalists who oppose the "objective journalism" policy are a tiny minority in their profession.

Why should political journalists give up "objective journalism"? Because it would be a tremendous help to the general public in understanding politics. That's all.

Of course, if I got it backwards last night, and what Costa was referring to as wince-inducing was not the USA TODAY editorial, but Trump's disgusting behavior, then I apologize to Costa.

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