Sunday, March 29, 2009

'A Slobbering Love Affair'

I'm near the end of Bernard Goldberg's A Slobbering Love Affair which provides a detailed accounting of the demise of journalism in the 2008 election cycle. I don't do book reviews, or any other kind of review for that matter, but I highly recommend this book, even if you think you know all about how deep in the tank the mainstream media were for Barack Obama. Hint: You probably don't know all about it.

In the final chapter, Goldberg sums up the dangers of activist journalism:
Back in 1972 when I was a young producer for CBS News covering George McGovern's presidential campaign, Pat Caddell, now a popular political analyst, was a young man just out of Harvard who was doing polling for the candidate.

McGovern of course lost (he carried just one state, Massachusetts), and Nixon won a second term. We later learned that Nixon had an enemies list. The youngest enemy on the list was my old pal, Pat.

I ran into Pat at a political conference in Florida nine days after the 2008 election. I asked for his thoughts about the mainstream media.

The were more biased than ever, he said, before launching into a bit of history to put the current mess into perspective. "There is one institution in America which has no checks and balances," he told me. "And that is the press. And there was a reason for that. It wasn't that the Founding Fathers loved the press. It was because the press was supposed to protect the country. That's why Jefferson said, 'I would much rather have newspapers without a government than a government without newspapers'.

"But [when the media] leave the ramparts and become a partisan outrider for one party or the other or one candidate or the other; essentially [deciding] who should be president and who should not be president; what truth people should know and what truth they should not know; then what they become, what they constitute, is a threat to democracy."

"Why," he asked me, "should the American people support the First Amendment if the press isn't going to do its job for them."

[ ... ]

And that, my friends, is why the corruption of the media matters. The press has constitutional protections for one main reason: to keep watch over a powerful government. The fundamental job of journalists is to look out for us - the American people! If nobody cares what the press says, journalists will be watchdogs in name only. They may bark from time to time, but nobody will listen. And their weakness will make it easy for a corrupt government to get away with murder. That is the danger we all face when the mainstream media go on a noble mission to make history. That is what can happen when the media, like that liberal professor at American University in Washington, believe that their role is not simply to report the news, fairly and accurately, but to effect their kind of change in society.
Do yourself a favor and pick up the book, read it, then share it with a friend.

No comments: