[image - the "War Journalist" action figure]
We have to give a shout-out to Glenn Greenwald and the public service that he provides. Greenwald is an expert and exposing media figures and their dishonesty.
This time it is CNN's John King, and Greenwald does his usual masterful job of exposing how the media is a little too cozy with a conservative Republican named John McCain. Have you heard of this McCain fellow? He's a real maverick, you know. A real straight talker and a real gutsy, heroic person who should be President. Never mind that the guy has a record a mile long of lying, cheating and being a hot-tempered, foul-mouthed bully. If you have that impression of McCain, it's because you don't hang around with him on his bus and ask him embarrassingly simple questions.
I won't display King's exchange with McCain--I'll just post Greenwald's excellent summation of the "interview" and then show how King responded:
If you wanted to create a parody simultaneously mocking the drooling vapidity of our media stars and their giggly collective crush on John McCain, it would be impossible to create something more illustrative than what John King did here. For reverent, propagandizing behavior from our Liberal Media comparable to this, one has to go all the way back to . . . the 2000-2005 lionization of the Great Warrior King, George W. Bush. That McCain press bus is virtually pornographic.
King defends himself, in an E-mail to Greenwald:
From: King, John C
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 5:40 PM
Subject: excuse me?
I don't read biased uninformed drivel so I'm a little late to the game.
But a friend who understands how my business works and knows a little something about my 20 plus years in it sent me the link to your ramblings.
Since the site suggests you have law training, maybe you forgot that good lawyers to a little research before they spit out words.
Did you think to ask me or anyone who works with me whether that was the entire interview? No. (It was not; just a portion used by one of the many CNN programs.)
Did you reach out to ask the purpose of that specific interview? No.
Or how it might have fit in with other questions being asked of other candidates that day? No.
Or anything that might have put facts or context or fairness into your critique. No.
McCain, for better or worse, is a very accessible candidate. If you did a little research (there he goes with that word again) you would find I have had my share of contentious moments with him over the years.
But because of that accessibility, you don't have to go into every interview asking him about the time he cheated on his sixth grade math test.
The interview was mainly to get a couple of questions to him on his thoughts on the role of government when the economy is teetering on the edge of recession, in conjunction with similar questions being put to several of the other candidates.
The portion you cited was aired by one of our programs -- so by all means it is fair game for whatever "analysis" you care to apply to it using your right of free speech and your lack of any journalistic standards or fact checking or just plain basic curiosity.
You clearly know very little about journalism. But credibility matters. It is what allows you to cover six presidential campaigns and be viewed as fair and respectful, while perhaps a little cranky, but Democrats and Republicans alike. When I am writing something that calls someone's credibility into question, I pick up the phone and give them a chance to give their side, or perspective.
That way, even on days that I don't consider my best, or anywhere close, I can look myself in the mirror and know I tried to be fair and didn't call into question someone's credibility just for sport, or because I like seeing my name on a website or my face on TV.
Have you ever seen a grown man have such a demonstrative melt-down? This is what purports to be the response of a journalist who has had his objectivity questioned. And he has a tantrum about it, one that should serve as a wake-up call to all of the journalists who are covering politicians.
King admits right then and there--if he thinks that if he writes about someone's credibility, it means he has to call them up and ask them what they have to say about it. And that's fine. But does that mean that when he discovers that Dick Cheney, for example, has been lying about the price of tea in China, that he has to call him up and get him on the record denying it? If so--we know how hard-hitting that interview is going to be, because King clearly demonstrates that if he does catch Cheney lying, he's going to ask him softball questions and let him off the hook and then go into a grand mal seizure if someone calls him on it.
This is what so-called 'journalists' like King are being introduced to, and it's called accountability. Do you journalists know what accountability is? You're being watched and evaluated, and everything you do is fair game. No one does this better than Greenwald. This wasn't "sport." This was an observation of how our political process is withering on the vine. This wasn't a personal attack by any stretch of the imagination, but you'd swear King had tears in his eyes and a torn up love letter next to him when he wrote his response. This was a legitimate criticism of how someone is doing their job representing what they will always claim is this nebulous and vague thing called "the public interest."
Anyway, you gotta love Greenwald for what he does. He is helping to shatter the notion that the media are doing their jobs on behalf of the American people. They're not. They're openly kissing the ass of politicians who they socialize with and they're trashing anyone who doesn't want to return the favor and kiss their ass.
We're paying the price for this arrangement. That's for certain.