Friday, November 17, 2006

Back to the 1990s Journalism

Digby and Glenn Greenwald both write about how political journalism has already reverted to the form it took during the Clinton years. Digby first describes how the the pundits are giggling and resorting to a sort of schoolyard journalism based on innuendos, personal assessments and general ridicule of politicians, and then puts this into perspective:

What can I say? This is what we are dealing with and there's no getting around it. These are not serious people, they are immature fools. And apparently, they are proud of it.

We have had a president for the last six years who is so stupid he can barely eat and breathe and who has single handedly destroyed more than 50 years of American leadership in the world. The American people have spoken loudly and clearly and have elected a new congress to provide some checks and balances to his reign of incompetence and executive power-mongering. They did not elect Democrats to provide the puerile putzes of the DC press corps with entertainment.

If these blindered fools can't see how many real stories are now potentially theirs for the taking, they should get out of the business. This could be the most fertile time for investigative reporting since Watergate --- Republicans are talking out of school for the first time in six long years. And the Democrats have the investigative tools to get to information that's been hidden. It should be great moment for DC journalism if DC journalism actually existed. Instead we are already back in the truthiness and fake news business, which they do very badly (particularly since we now have professional comedians who do truthiness and fake news far more entertainingly than these witless bores could ever hope to.)

The shallow cliches in that article are not just lighthearted good times. They illustrate the narrative that cost Al Gore an election and motivated an eight year media withchunt against President Clinton. But it's no joke, which events of the last six years should have pounded home to every person who works in the journalism business. This sophomoric approach to covering politics was largely responsible for the empowerment of the most destructive political leadership in American history.

Glenn Greenwald agrees with Digby's assessment and quotes this interesting nugget from Marty Perez's blog post at the New Republic:

Which reminds me of whom Pelosi reminds me: Bella Abzug. No, Pelosi is rather svelte, which Bella was not. Pelosi also doesn't wear a big-brimmed hat. But she talks unbearably empty prose. Which is another difference: Bella spoke in ideologically laden phrases, for many years of the Stalinist-sympathizer sort. (Yes, Virginia, there were such folk, and they often nested in the Democratic Party, certainly in New York, California, and Minnesota, for instance.) So why do I think of Bella when I think of Pelosi? Bella couldn't discern between a political difference and a personal war. So if it was the former, it quickly also became the latter. When I did some work for Pat Moynihan in the Democratic primary that gave him his first nomination to the U.S. Senate, she was one of his opponents. I saw her at some party function late in the campaign and, in the midst of hundreds of people at the Commodore Hotel, she gave me the middle finger and accompanied it with the appropriate four-letter curse. I was embarrassed for her.

Greenwald points out that none of the journalists who are out there painting Pelosi mean and bitchy and vindictive and truly incapable of a wider view in politics actually present any evidence to show that her decisions are based on something personal. Or on something that other (male) politicians wouldn't routinely use as the basis of their decisions.

I point out that that paragraph by Perez is an excellent example of how to smear a woman politician. Read it carefully, and you will realize that Perez is bashing Bella Abzug, dead for some time, not Pelosi. But what goes for Abzug goes for Pelosi, because they are the same, you know. Except for the looks and the clothes, but otherwise. Especially between the legs.