The press should be ashamed
“The great American experiment” (Alexis de Tocqueville) is on the verge of collapse, and our media watchdogs fiddle.
Two contemporary media trends are especially troubling.
First, we have the migration of journalists from news organizations to the Obama administration (20 or so, at last count).
Topping the list is Jay Carney, a former reporter for Time magazine. He’s now Obama’s spokesman. Others who have made the switch have also been reporters or editors at some of the nation’s largest media outlets.
All were free to switch, certainly, but because we relied on them for accurate and unbiased news while they were journalists, we can and should ask some tough questions:
Is it ethical for journalists to report on people and agencies while also considering employment with those people and agencies? And is it acceptable for news organizations to allow such behavior by their journalists?
The Society of Professional Journalists, which believes “public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy,” has a Code of Ethics that addresses our questions.
The Code says, “Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.” Specific points in the section include avoiding conflicts of interest, real or perceived; remaining free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility; refusing gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shunning political involvement.
The answers to our questions, then, are “No” and “No,” and shame on the “journalists” and their news organizations.
Another troubling trend is journalists secretly schmoozing with presidents. It’s been going on for a number of years, but it’s reached a crescendo with President Obama. Last month, he held three secret off-the-record sessions with journalists in the White House.
Dylan Byers at Politico last week went into a fair amount of detail on the practice. (The story is generous with anonymous sources but has enough specific attributions to give it credibility.)
Obama’s secret meetings with journalists occur in The Roosevelt Room and go on for up to two and one-half hours.
Media guests vary. Regulars include columnists from the New York Times, Time magazine and The Washington Post. Other guests include various reporters (no names) and the editorial page editors of the Wall Street Journal and The Post.
Charles Krauthammer, a Fox News contributor and a “‘conservative” syndicated columnist for The Post, has also attended.
Byers quotes a reporter with knowledge of the meetings as saying, “It’s not an accident who he (Obama) invites. He reads the people that he thinks matter, and he really likes engaging those people.” Another reporter said, “He reads people carefully – he has a columnist mentality – and he wants to win columnists over.”
Obama’s schmoozing has paid off handsomely. Liberals back him when he needs backing, and even Krauthammer recently caved like a cheap hooker.
In January 2011, Krauthammer suggested Republicans focus on Obamacare’s individual mandate as a way of killing the measure. But in September 2013, Krauthammer fought House Republicans who wanted to delay the mandate. He advised giving Democrats what they want and letting Obamacare collapse under its own weight.
Democrats eventually got what they wanted, but the only collapsing has been sick people losing their doctors and millions of insurance policy holders losing their coverage. Thank you, Charles.
Obama’s schmoozing has paid off in another way, too. It’s kept impeachment talk at bay.
Consider: Only 39 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s performance. He’s violated the Constitution numerous times when it has suited his purposes. He’s covered up major scandals, including one that involves the murder of four Americans. And he’s ravaged the nation’s health care system, which is likely to lead to premature death for at least some Americans.
Yet, there’s no Nixonian clamor for the president’s resignation before he can do more damage.
Shame on Barack Obama, and shame on his allies in the media. Our nation deserves better.