There’s lots of blather all over the web about the New York Times piece on John McCain.
I could link to something, but you’ve all seen it. Here are my own four comments:
First, the priestly class of reporters and editors in America have forever heaped spite on blogs for being cesspools of rumor and innuendo. So what’s so different about the Times piece? The opening concentration on McCain’s implied sexual affair is nothing but gossip from either unnamed sources or pure speculation. There isn’t a shred of direct evidence to support it, and as Dan Kennedy notes, its probably nobody’s business.
Second, the priestly class of reporters and editors in America routinely bemoan the dumbing down of journalism because of the innumerable stories about Britney Spears. How is the Times piece any different than celebrity gossip? The next time a guy like Jim O’Shea complains about Britney Spears coverage, just point him to the NYT McCain piece.
Third, anonymous sources. If there is a more cowardly way of reporting than using anonymous sources to create smear articles, I don’t know what it is. If you’re going to use anonymous sources, use them for real scandal — you know, like Watergate.
Fourth, I chuckled when I read the opening graphs of the story. The spin reminds me of this piece from the Onion. You can sensationalize anything if you want a story bad enough.
Folks, journalism is in serious need of reinvention, if this is what America’s finest paper thinks is news.
More importantly, the poorly-sourced innuendo buries the real story, which is the influence purchased by the lobbyist’s money, not the proximity of her private parts to McCain’s.
Then we get back to – what is news?
Basically information meant to inform about recent events.
The media has always struck a balance between informing and entertaining…and unfortunately in the rush to gain or keep audiences, judgment is blurred. What might be a rumor (or even known fact) that a reporter might just keep an eye on suddenly goes on the front page. Why? How did it get upped from a comment made that can’t be attributed to something worth printing? That’s what I’d like to know. Why was this story printed before its time? Right before Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown was elected in California in 1974 someone started rumors that he was gay. The media ignored the rumors because there was nothing to substantiate them. And the question was asked – how would this affect how he acted as governor? In McCain’s case the alleged alliance with a lobbyist is of more concern than a possible sexual connection. The former would be news if it could be proven…the latter, I’m not sure about. It might speak to his character but not necessarily influence how he would act in office.