I have to say, I sort of broke the story of how much the press sucks, at least after Alexander Cockburn exposed what a fraud Christopher Hitchens was. And I am happy to say that I have a signed copy of Corruptions of Empire, and am cited towards the end of it.
In terms of my contribution, see this excerpt from a piece I wrote on November 2, 2016, “This Election Has Disgraced the Entire Profession of Journalism,” right before the presidential election. It begins:
We still don’t know the outcome of the 2016 election, in which our “democratic process” has produced two candidates widely despised by the American people, but we do know the race’s biggest loser: reporters and the profession of journalism, which has been reduced to surrogacy, largely on behalf of Hillary Clinton.
Before going further, let me state that my own politics are on the left but I won’t be voting in this election. Both parties have collaborated to rig the system so that’s it’s virtually impossible for an independent candidate to compete given the financial and institutional hurdles that have been put in place to block such a possibility. We live in an oligarchy where democracy is virtually meaningless; I’m not debasing myself by participating in this charade…
We have two unbelievably shitty candidates, neither of whom is fit to lead the country. Donald Trump is a reckless narcissist who, as his debate performances indicated, cannot string together more than two sentences, let alone articulate a coherent vision for the country’s future. His remarks about women, Latinos and African-Americans are reprehensible and, whether he believes his own statements or is merely trying to stir up anger for his electoral benefit, have emboldened people who hold retrograde and genuinely scary views.
Then there is Hillary Clinton, who has been in public life for decades and who grows more and more unpopular upon exposure —and for good reason. Whatever one thinks of the so-called “Servergate” scandal —and I personally find it troubling that she put classified information on a private server that was almost certainly obtained by foreign intelligence services — she stonewalled and lied to the FBI during its investigation, which has now been reopened. She and her family run a foundation that aggressively solicited donations from corporations, wealthy individuals and foreign governments that have interests before the government, and in some cases Clinton, as secretary of state, took actions that can only be seen as quid pro quo for big donors. These facts alone should disqualify her from political life and make her the legitimate target of criminal investigations.
Anyway, here we are two years later and Charles W. Cooke has written a story for the increasingly indispensable, gulp, National Review, that is almost as good as mine, even if it is rather late in the day for William Buckley’s old rag to save itself from disgrace.
Here’s an excerpt and the then I have to run:
Our national press is a national joke. Vain, languid, excitable, morbid, duplicitous, cheap, insular, mawkish, and possessed of a chronic self-obsession that would have made Dorian Gray blush, it rambles around the United States in neon pants, demanding congratulation for its travails. Not since Florence Foster Jenkins have Americans been treated to such an excruciating example of self-delusion. The most vocal among the press corps’ ranks cast themselves openly as “firefighters” when, at worst, they are pyromaniacs and, at best, they are obsequious asbestos salesmen. “You never get it right, do you?” Sybil Fawlty told Basil in Fawlty Towers. “You’re either crawling all over them licking their boots or spitting poison at them like some Benzedrine puff adder.” There is a great deal of space between apologist and bête noire. In the newsrooms of America, that space is empty.
It’s getting worse. Despite presenting an opportunity for sobriety and excellence, the election of President Donald Trump has been an unmitigated disaster for the political media, which have never reckoned with their role in Trump’s elevation and eventual selection, and which have subsequently treated his presidency as a rolling opportunity for high-octane drama, smug self-aggrandizement, and habitual sloth. I did not go to journalism school, but I find it hard to believe that even the least prestigious among those institutions teaches that the correct way to respond to explosive, unsourced reports that just happen to match your political priors is to shout “Boom” or “Bombshell” or “Big if true” and then to set about spreading those reports around the world without so much as a cursory investigation into the details. And yet, in the Trump era, this has become the modus operandi of all but the hardest-nosed scribblers.
Oh yeah, it would be criminal to omit this:
Last year, when the White House unveiled an immigration change that it hoped to persuade Congress to pass, CNN’s Jim Acosta showed up in the press room with an indignant look on his face and began to recite poetry from the stalls. It is true that Acosta, a man who seems unable to decide whether he’s a political correspondent on basic cable or a member of the cast of Hamilton, is particularly absurd. But he is by no means an aberration. It is for a good reason that one cannot imagine a member of the mainstream press behaving toward a Democratic administration in the manner that Acosta behaves, and the reason is that he’d never think to do so against his own team.