Posts Tagged ‘Pulitzer Prize’
“The lowest form of popular culture – lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives – has overrun real journalism. Today, ordinary Americans are being stuffed with garbage.” – Carl Bernstein
“When I entered politics, I took the only downward turn you could take from journalism.” – Jim Hightower
When the Pulitzers announced that David Fahrenthold of Washington Post was receiving an award for National Reporting “For persistent reporting that created a model for transparent journalism in political campaign coverage while casting doubt on Donald Trump’s assertions of generosity toward charities,” no one was surprised. He was the highly favored candidate. Fahrenthold was one of the very few mainstream reporters who did not spend the 2016 election cycle sifting through Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails. One of the very few. (Because of his reporting on Trump’s charity donations, Fahrenthold was also the one to receive the Access Hollywood tape when NBC spent days trying to decide how and when to release it.) Fahrenthold began his investigation into Trump’s supposed (and non-existent) charitable donations on something of a hunch. He remembered Trump once saying on TV that he would donate $6 million to veterans groups and Fahrenthold wondered if Trump followed through on the promise. So he started researching and found a Pulitzer.
Do you know who didn’t find a Pulitzer? Anybody who was sifting through Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails. The vast majority of the news media spent 18 months questioning Clinton on her use of a private e-mail server and then combing through tens of thousands of stolen e-mails from the DNC and Clinton’s campaign. All they found was a risotto recipe and that one time Clinton and Huma Abedin split a crème brûlée. There
was also gossip. But nothing that a sane person could interpret as in any way significant to a Presidential campaign. And yet, according to statistics, E-MAILS was the topic of more conversation on the news than anything else. Though we might think the NY Times was the most egregious in their anti-Hillary coverage, it was – in fact, the Washington Post that by far led Hillary-hate; second only to Fox News.
When CNN’s Jake Tapper was told by Robby Mook that there are allegations about stolen DNC e-mails and Russian interference via WikiLeaks, Tapper’s incredulous eye-rolling response should shame him for the rest of his life. (It won’t.) Not because he didn’t just take Mook’s word for it in the moment. But because Tapper never called any of his sources, whether in Congress or in the Intelligence Community, and ask: “Hey, what is he talking about? Anything to this?” Because he might have gotten an affirmative response and landed the biggest story of his life. By that time the FBI was alredy investigating Trump’s possible collusion with Russia. And the Gang of 8 in Congress was about to be briefed. Harry Reid would fire off multiple public letters to FBI Director James Comey, imploring additional information to be disclosed on Trump and Russia. To no avail. Comey was silent and the media treated Reid like a deranged lunatic. Very few reporters looked into these stories. Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek was one, and was widely derided by the Left and the Right. When David Corn of Mother Jones published an article about the Steele dossier in October, he was laughed at too. When Franklin Foer of Slate published an article claiming that a Trump server was communicating with a Russian Alfa Bank he was laughed at as well. His allegations were infamously dismissed by the NY Times as “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. sees no clear link to Russia” in an article by Eric Lichtblau. It is a headline that should be tattooed on Lichtblau’s forehead. (Lichtblau recently left the Times to be CNN’s lead investigative reporter…) The NY Times was flat out wrong. And they conducted an interview with Harry Reid for the story, and then threw it out unused. The story remains up, un-retracted. We, of course, now know for a fact that the Times was wrong. The F.B.I. was investigating Trump and they saw links to Russia. And Alfa Bank’s communications with Trump servers is one of the lynchpins of the investigation.
So what happens when journalism is wrong? Journalists love themselves because they say their job is to hold the powerful accountable for wrong-doing. But what happens when journalists are wrong? What happens when entire media empires fail to see the biggest story of their lifetimes and chase a red herring, plunging a nation into a crises? Where, to paraphrase, does a person the media ruined go to get their good name back? How do we collectively crawl our way out of the hole the media threw us all in?
The answer, I fear is…nothing happens. They pay no price. When the NY Times and Judith Miller published Dick Cheney’s fake stories about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs, then watched Cheney go on television and cite the Times as proof that Hussein had WMDs, and the country went to a catastrophic war in Iraq…nothing happened to the NY Times. They threw Miller out, as if her reports were not approved by editors above her and as if lawyers and standards/practices didn’t sign off on her reports. The Times paid no price. And they will pay no price for Clinton’s e-mails either.
Society of Professional Journalists writes: “Report the story, don’t become part of it.” I wonder how they feel about NY Times’ Maggie Haberman receiveing an adoring write-up from CNN, as the reporter Trump hates the mostest. NBC/MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell sees Maggie and raises her by being the most hated reporter of all the Presidents in Politico. And CNN’s Brian Stelter is the Young Messiah of Washington Post’s ode. Each of these articles was reposted on social media by the author, the subject, every other reporters both sides work with. It’s a veritable journalistic circle jerk of love and adoration. There are no consequences for their failures – to them. The only consequences belong to us. The only ones to pay will be the public, which now clings to the same reporters who brought us to hell to help dig us out. “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” Washington Post says. Except they broke all of the lights.