Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sycophany on the Straight Talk Express

John McCain is famous for his good relationship with the press. That's all fine and dandy to a certain extent, but when will the riders of the Straight Talk Express remember that the value of a free press is that it can confront those who would be king? Afflict the comfortable and all that.

As Glenn Greenwald over at Salon points out, the press is bending over backwards to avoid calling out McCain for his recent conflation of Iran and al-Qaeda. He quotes Chuck Todd from this past Sunday's Meet the Press:

He's got enough of that in the bank, at least with the media, that he can get away with it. I mean, the irony to this is had either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama misspoke like that, it'd have been on a running loop, and it would become a, a big problem for a couple of days for them.
As Greenwald points out:
But Todd's admission that journalists protect McCain because they're convinced he's a true expert in national security is nonetheless extraordinary because it is clearly what journalists -- by their own admission -- are doing.
The reaction, or lack thereof, is an interesting contrast to how Gerri Peev of The Scotsman handled the Samantha Power situation. Remember that Peev reported Power's comment that Hillary Clinton was a "monster," even though Power quickly added "that is off the record." In talking about the matter afterwards, Peev said (via Greenwald):
[TUCKER] CARLSON: What -- she wanted it off the record. Typically, the arrangement is if someone you're interviewing wants a quote off the record, you give it to them off the record. Why didn't you do that?

PEEV: Are you really that acquiescent in the United States? In the United Kingdom, journalists believe that on or off the record is a principle that's decided ahead of the interview. If a figure in public life.

* * *

CARLSON: Right. But I mean, since journalistic standards in Great Britain are so much dramatically lower than they are here, it's a little much being lectured on journalistic ethics by a reporter from the "Scotsman," but I wonder if you could just explain what you think the effect is on the relationship between the press and the powerful. People don't talk to you when you go out of your way to hurt them as you did in this piece.

Don't you think that hurts the rest of us in our effort to get to the truth from the principals in these campaigns?

PEEV: If this is the first time that candid remarks have been published about what one campaign team thinks of the other candidate, then I would argue that your journalists aren't doing a very good job of getting to the truth. Now I did not go out of my way in any way, shape or form to hurt Miss Power. I believe she's an intelligent and perfectly affable woman. In fact, she's -- she is incredibly intelligent so she -- who knows she may have known what she was doing.
As Greenwald points out, Carlson lets the cat out of the bag a bit by emphasizing the value American journalists put on being part of the "in" crowd. There's certainly a fine line to tread, but most of McCain's kid glove reporters seem to have crossed over it long ago.

1 comment:

jedijawa said...

Isn't Tucker one of the kiss ass Bush apologists who cower when it comes to reporting on his bullshit for fear of being frozen out of the White House press pool?