NBC, Smears, Arianna, and TV Ethics

Arianna Huffington is getting slimed by the NBC PR department for her blogging on Tim Russert.  The gist of her blogging is this.  Aside from Russert's stonewalling on Plamegate, he routinely accepts massive speaking fees, which is an obvious conflict of interest.  But that's old hat.  What really got under Russert's skin is that Arianna found out that James Carville and Tim Russert's son are going to host a sports talk show together, and that Russert promoted the show on Meet the Press without disclosing his son's involvement.

Tim responded by lying about her, claiming she hired a private investigator to investigate a journalist.  Or rather, it's the NBC PR department which is doing the sliming, I suppose at Tim Russert's behest, and sending stuff to gossip columnists.

But my point here isn't about this tiff.  It's about the culture of modern journalism.  Among journalists, there's a deep sense of pride in the craft of journalism - I just attended a luncheon yesterday with some old practitioners, and they are proud of the work they do.  And honestly, much of it is excellent excellent work.  And they are keen to talk ethics, and blogging, and print journalism.  But whenever I bring up TV, and especially cable TV, immediately reporters throw up their hands and avoid responsibility.  They say things like "Chris Matthews is an asshole" or "Don't engage him" or "Fox News isn't what I do", as if the American public's responsibility to police the craft of journalism that they take so much pride in policing. 

That same standard is NEVER applied to bloggers - are they journalists, are they reporters, are they mean people on the internet - there's endless handwringing about that question, and a deep sense that this-is-a-very-important issue-that-we-must-all-talk-and-fret-abo ut.  Well, that's fine, except that if you believe you belong to a craft, and there is a self-policing mechanism, you have to actually self-police.

That means asking the same questions of Chris Matthews and Tim Russert as you ask of bloggers and journalists.  I don't see that happening.  And since television is an immensely powerful medium that dominates our discourse, I find it fairly irresponsible that there is such a lack of discouse.

Tags: Arianna Huffington (all tags)

Comments

7 Comments

The Aristocracy Is NOT Amused!!!

Let's be clear.  Russert and Carville are part of America's hereditary ruling class.  Their son's inheritance is not to be questioned---or there will be consequences.

And, of course print journalists don't hold TV "journalists" accountable. Authority in an hierarchical society only flows one way: downhill.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-01-27 06:36AM | 0 recs
Re: NBC, Smears, Arianna, and TV Ethics

and not just authority.

by skippy 2006-01-27 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: NBC, Smears, Arianna, and TV Ethics

A friend in college was a civil engineering major - he constantly pointed out what "flows downhill".

by Michael Bersin 2006-01-27 07:06AM | 0 recs
Have Any Questions For Russert?

One of my blog partners over at Blue Force is participating in this conference and is asking people for questions she should ask Russert (or Peggy Noonan or Fred Barnes, who are also participating).

This is what she's looking for:

I'm looking for insightful questions that might set them back on their heels. They've thought of all the obvious ones and have their formulaic answers well rehearsed.

Anyone got anything clever to ask?

by Alex Urevick 2006-01-27 07:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Have Any Questions For Russert?

Ask them how much money they estimate they have saved as a result of the Bush's tax cuts. It is probably in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If they refuse to answer, ask them whether journalists should tell their readers how the policies of an administration or a party has benefited them personally so that the public can evaluate their commentary.

by mrgavel 2006-01-27 09:20AM | 0 recs
NBC Washington Bureau is Compromised

Tim Russert is the Washington DC Bureau Chief for NBC News Division.

This entire division has been corrupted by the CIA Agent prosecution and closeness to the Bush Administration:

- Russert was called by Scooter Libby to complain about Hardball.

  • Chris Matthews was pressured by that Scooter Libby call. Chris Matthews was also called by Karl Rove and told Valerie Plame is "fair game."
  • Andrea Mitchell has made many mistatements about the Scooter Libby and Valerie Plame situation, on Imus, on Hardball, and on NBC Nightly.

Furthermore:

- Pete Williams, former employee of Dick Cheney at DoD, is allowed to report on Dick Cheney the VP.
- Brian Williams (no relation) has admitted his affinity for listening to Rush Limbaugh as an arbiter of public opinion.

Karl Rove played all of them for chumps. He played on their natural tendency to suck up, then zinged them with the Plame leak.

By those two facts, the entire DC Bureau of NBC News has been compromised - if not corrupted - by their unethical behavior and their inordinate symapthy with the Bush Administration.

NBC News used to be represented by the likes of John Chancellor, David Brinkley, and Tom Brokaw. None of them would have been dragged into this mess when they were at NBC. NBC News needs to clean house. Now.

by zappatero 2006-01-27 08:02AM | 0 recs
And ABC News Is Just Infotianment

I actually watched Nightline a few times over the past couple weeks. Wow, talk about taking a dive. The show has become more of an entertainment/gossip show than a news program. They're reporting on hip-hop producers and British reality TV shows. They do put a few serious topics in to pay lip service to hard journalism, but let's see how long that lasts.

In fact, ABC News is dominated by these infotainment shows: 20/20, Primetime...and now Nightline has become one of them.

I wouldn't be surprised if John Tesh takes over the anchor position at World News Tonight some time soon.

by LiberalFromPA 2006-01-27 09:03AM | 0 recs

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