You can probably count the times I’ve disagreed with Stacy McCain on the fingers of one hand and still have a couple fingers left to fork the Evil Eye at me. He and I are sympatico in most everything important (excepting, perhaps, on the matter of college football) but not on this post.
Stacy posits that conservatives hate journalism. I don’t believe that is true. One of the great desires of most conservatives’ hearts is an MSM that practices real journalism instead of daily donning the Democrat-issued knee pads and adopting the supplicants’ position. They — we– want reporters who dig into a story and tell us what they find, all of what they find. What we have instead are journalists who bury stories depending on who is involved. Thus the public knows all about Mark Foley and Mark Sanford but not Chris Dodd, Charles Rangel, William Jefferson, and John Conyers (and his crook of a wife). America got to read a cruel and unfair front-page profile of John McCain’s wife while Barack Obama went virtually unexplored. Barney Frank can waft the most egregious accusations about Republicans, but we are rarely reminded that once upon a time his boyfriend ran a prostitution ring out of his apartment or that he was in a long-lasting relationship with one of the people who ran Fannie Mae during the height of the risky mortgage boom.
It is not journalism that conservatives distrust but journalists and the distinction is very important. Why trust someone like Dave Weigel when there’s a very good chance that he’s just waiting to stab you in the kidneys repeatedly? Did we not learn lessons from the Katie Couric and Charles Gibson “interviews” of Sarah Palin? Stacy contends that trusted journalists are important to keep the GOP on its toes:
Consider the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s premature endorsement of Charlie Crist in the Senate primary in Florida. It is an objective fact that this move was a spectacular blunder, one which called into question the basic political competence of NRSC chairman John Cornyn and his advisors. And I should add that the NRSC’s campaign counterpart on the House side, the National Republican Congressional Committee, hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory of late.
Who will report these facts? If conservative journalists are expected to be publicity agents for Team GOP, and if Team GOP is being run into the ditch by the party bosses, where is there any chance for the kind of sunlight-as-disinfectant reporting that might prevent the imminent debacle?
Who will report those facts? Why virtually every MSM journalist on the planet. Since when have they been shy about exposing GOP missteps, especially when doing so can help the Democrats during an election cycle?
Stacy says that we conservatives expect conservative journalists to be Republican stenographers, but that isn’t so. No credible conservative expects a journalist to simply reprint press releases. No one is saying that journalists shouldn’t vigorously pursue stories that might hurt the conservative cause. What we are saying is that the MSM is already fulfilling that “sunlight-as-disinfectant” role for the GOP but not doing the same for the Democrats. What we want is for journalists to remember that their job is, in part, to afflict the comfortable of both parties and they have not been doing that regularly, not for most of my lifetime.
Until journalists as a group stop acting as left-wing propagandists and attack dogs, conservatives are correct to distrust them. I realize that makes the job of a good and diligent journalist more difficult, but that’s not my problem. We are doing what common sense demands.
UPDATE: I used “hate” in the title and it occurs to me that it might be too strong a word. I certainly think “distrust” is more appropriate, but “hate” might very well sum up the opinion of a large number of conservatives. I could be wrong about that, though.