Friday, November 30, 2007

More Press Hubris?

the Washington Post today ran a front-page article by star reporter Howard Kurtz on how the national media is unhappy with their lack of access to Hillary Clinton. As Kurtz wrote,
National correspondents are increasingly frustrated by a lack of access to Clinton. They spend much of their time in rental cars chasing her from one event to the next, because the campaign usually provides no press bus or van. Life on the bus means journalists don't have to worry about luggage or directions or getting left behind, since they are part of the official motorcade. News organizations foot the bill for such transportation, but campaigns have to staff and coordinate the buses -- and deal with the constant presence of their chroniclers.

To me this sounds like more press hubris, closely related to Bobby Calvan, the arrogant press puppy who didn't think the rules applied to him in Iraq and then pulled the 'Don't you know who I am' routine on a busy US soldier.

Exactly what entitles the media to a free ride as 'part of the official cavalcade'? Just because you happen to work for a news outlet doesn't make you special. Are you somehow suggesting that you ought to be given privileges that ordinary citizens are not? it certainly seems that way. Kurtz continues his complaints by writing,
Reporters, meanwhile, were making their way along unmarked back roads, past moose crossings and flocks of geese, to find a home on an isolated cul-de-sac in Goffstown. There, Judy Lanza, a nurse, and her husband, Joe, a retired police officer, hosted Clinton in a small kitchen adorned with pumpkins, apple baskets, a cookie jar and a straw doll affixed to the wall.

For more than an hour, 30 journalists watched from the small, darkened living room as Clinton chatted, awkwardly at first, with the five preselected guests. Her rhetoric against health insurance companies was harsher than might have been expected. They give patients the "runaround," deny care, "slow-walk" the payment of bills, she declared. "This is all part of their business model. This is how they make money. . . . The small-business health-care market is really rigged."

From there, Clinton drifted into special education, meetings she had as first lady on religious tolerance, how she was "deeply involved" in the Northern Ireland peace process, and her plans for a "post-Kyoto agreement" on global warming. But although the meeting was staged for the assembled journalists, there was no chance for follow-up, and the event received virtually no coverage.

As Clinton made her way to the door, she observed: "All this good food -- can we feed the press?" But the press was feeling undernourished.

Oh, my heart bleeds for you poor undernourished members of the press. Of course, since most of the press wouldn't know real undernourishment if it walked up and hit them in the face, I have to take Kurtz's whines with a hearty pinch of salt. However, the fact that these juvenile complaints somehow found their way into the Washington Post says something about the mindset of the media.

Personally, I believe that if we have an informed electorate, one that actually follows the real events without relying on puffed-up, self-important and biased reporters like Kurtz, then we will have a better country., Unfortunately, the press as it exists today seems more concerned with their own prestige as opposed to the quality of the coverage they provide. Kurtz should be wondering about Hillary's mysterious Asian donors- not complaining about the lack of a campaign bus to cart his lazy behind from one place to another. Most of the blogging community, like Captain Ed Morrissey, the Power Line crew and many others in the upper echelon are used to being ordinary citizens. Despite the lack of a campaign bus, they have managed to uncover more of the real news associated with the campaign thsu far than all of the dinosaur media combined. Yet we do not hear them whining about having to actually drive themselves or *gasp* do their own research.

Could it be that bloggers (most of whom are not paid for their efforts) are actually getting the stories because they are interested in the real events, not the agenda that pervades most newsrooms? You won't find a blogger packing a so-called 'debate' with avowed opponents- he or she simply wants answers to questions that interest them. And the candidate needs to answer honestly or he or she will be rightfully skewered in said blogger's next post. If Kurtz and his colleagues in the 'mainstream' media shared that interest in getting the job done right, then maybe they wouldn't be such pariahs and their own trust ratings would be higher. Oh, and one more thing. If they actually put as much effort into finding the truth as the blogosphere, then maybe they wouldn't be hemmorhaging viewers. Just a thought....

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