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September 28, 2007

How To Become A Superstar "Journalist" In One Easy Step

Breaking a big story takes work. And a lot of luck. And even with both you might never manage it.

There's an easier rout, of course. If you can't be good at your job, at least you can become a superstar, at least among those who count, by being an unabashed partisan.

Looks like MSNBC correspondent David Shuster may have deprived loyal MSNBC viewers of their favorite GOP talking heads — at least for now.

This week, the MSNBC reporter “sandbagged” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) during an interview by asking her to name the last solider from her district to die in Iraq. After she couldn’t, Shuster named the solider himself and then scolded the Tennessee Republican for her hypocrisy.

But it turns out that the soldier Shuster named — Pvt. Jeremy S. Bohannon — was not from Blackburn’s district after all. The incident landed Shuster in some GOP hot water, and the newsman was forced to make an on-air apology for the incident last night.

But that might not be the end of it, as irked Republican Hillers are now planning a boycott of Shuster’s employer.


“There’s no difference [between] sending your boss over to David Shuster or the Democratic National Committee at this point,” sniffs one high-placed House source.

"He thinks acting like a jerk will turn him into a rising star, but he's really just Chris Matthews' schlep,” says a high-placed Senate aide.

I think we'll see an awful lot more of this. It's simply too easy to break with supposed journalistic traditions of objectivity and become a crusading hero to one quarter of the population just by being a dickbag hack. Most journalists are simply not all that good at their jobs. To some extent that's true of every profession -- one third of any group are "average' and one third must be "below average" -- but journalism seems a particularly soft field as far as standards so it seems to attract crap talent.

So expect to see a lot more Keith Olbermanns and David Shusters in the future. Excessive partisanship and bias is a launching pad to success, and it's a hell of a lot easier to take tips from MoveOn than to cultivate sources and carefully expose big stories.

Jeff Goldstein had this same idea a few days ago, remarking upon NPR's refusal to run a Juan Williams exclusive interview with the President on race issues. Juan Williams noted he'd taken time to cultivate a relationship with the White House to give him such a big get. Turns out NPR wasn't so hot on that.

Well, developing a relationship with the White House was your first mistake, Juan.

Because unfortunately, these days the “adversarial” media takes that designation literally. It is not enough to ask tough, fair questions anymore. Instead, one has to have shown an open hostility toward the President to make his bones — or else risk being called an adminstration shill by the kinds of listeners NPR tends to cultivate.

As was long predicted, even the pretense of objectivity is being dropped. In a way, that's progress of a sort. But the media will simply become more and more outlandishly partisan in a race to the bottom, each wannabe Woodward and Bernstein competing with each other to see who can out-liberal the rest.

It hardly needs to be said that there will not be much competition in this regard among the 10% of journalists who lean conservative. Because they'll simply be fired or never promoted above the level of copyboy if they try such a thing.

Nuance, people. Look into it.

Related: Tavis Smiley, "journalist," lies about not having called Bush "nothing more than a serial killer" when questioned about it. This is new again, because the top Republican contenders all avoided the debate he was moderating immoderating.

Also related: it appears that the soldier Shuster asked about did in fact live in that GOP Congresswoman's district... while living with his girlfriend in her mom's house for less than a year before deploying with the army.

I don't think this saves Shuster -- obviously he didn't know this and didn't fact-check beforehand, or else he would not have apologized. He took MoveOn's sketchy tip at face value and failed to determine if the home address they supplied him (where he'd spent all of his life before this brief stay in another district) was even in the district of the woman he was ambushing.

But of course the left, and "reporters" (but I repeat myself) claim vindication.

I ask again of David Shuster: Who was the last US severiceman awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor?

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posted by Ace at 02:31 PM

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