Tuesday, June 18, 2013

When DC Journalists Take A Stand

In his typically brilliant column on Bob Schieffer's idiocy, Alex Pareene makes a really important point that I too find endlessly fascinating.
It is always interesting to see what subjects “objective” press figures like Schieffer feel comfortable expressing personal opinions about. Schieffer would never have expressed explicit support or disapproval of, say, the Senate comprehensive immigration reform package. He wouldn’t give an endorsement in a domestic election. But on this issue, Schieffer feels free to align himself with the state and against the state’s enemies. It isn’t a particularly surprising expression of allegiance, but it’s still useful to be reminded that many of our most Serious Journalists think of themselves as a partner, and not adversary, of power.
And that is exactly the point. Political journalists seem themselves as part of the game, part of the story, and a part of our government's power structure, not a check on it. The scariest part is that unlike if Schieffer had given a strong defense of the ACA, he doesn't even see a commentary like this as making a political statement at all. Everyone of importance in DC knows that this is the correct opinion to have about Snowden, so much so that it doesn't even trip his "I'm not allowed to take a position on anything" cardinal sin of serious journalism sensor.

Shit like this is exactly the problem with so much political journalism. They preach objectivity, but objectivity as they see it is basically impossible. They hold strong opinions, and express those opinions in writing every day under the guise of calling balls and strikes, not realizing that everything from what they choose to write about to how they cover the story reflects their own biases. Treating Benghazi and the IRS thing as super serious scandals while ignoring years up high unemployment and a government run predatory lending program is bias. A bias towards stupidity over substance counts. But in DC journalism, as long as your keep your biases against the right people and away from the wrong subjects, no one will ever question your objectivity.

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