Fat Steve's Blatherings

Monday, March 07, 2005

A Reporter Starts to Get Why the Press is in Trouble -- But not Quite

      Over at Columbia Journalism Review Daily, reporter Laurie Garrett tells a story about one of her colleagues:
A colleague of mine that used to be at Newsday and is now at Time magazine described this by saying that she had grown up in a working-class Irish-American family in Brooklyn. All of her brothers and sisters were either cops or firefighters or nurses. And she was the one that they all thought was an oddball because she was a writer. She said there came a day in the newsroom when a little light bulb went off in her head and she suddenly understood why fundamentally she was always disagreeing with other reporters and editors and had a different instinct about where to go with a specific story. And it was because one of them said in the newsroom, "How could anybody be a working stiff and a Republican?" And she realized that she had certainly grown up around working-stiff Republicans and here was a newsroom full of people who absolutely couldn't comprehend how any one individual could put those two ways of thinking together. Which meant that, of course, they couldn't understand who elected George Bush. They couldn't understand how the Republican Party fundamentally transformed itself. And it was part-and-parcel of not having grown up among people who were hard-working stiffs but might have ideas and ways of looking at the world that you disagreed with.

      But she never quite makes the connect:
I don't want you to misunderstand. I don't come from that class background myself. I grew up in a nice comfortable middle class family. My parents were college-educated. I was college-educated. All my siblings were college-educated. What I am saying is that having none of that -- having a newsroom that has completely shifted to one of these smart-ass things -- I think one of the reasons that Clinton had a very hard time as President of the United States was that he was about the same age and with a similar educational background as the White House press corps. And they all thought they were smarter than him. They behaved, in terms of decorum in the White House press [room], in ways that no one ever would have dreamed of behaving for Eisenhower or Kennedy or even LBJ. It was a weird situation. I remember being there -- I was occasionally on stories where I would be part of the White House press briefings -- and I remember being down there in the basement and thinking that I was kind of shocked that everyone talked as if they could be the leader of the free world -- second-guessing every decision made by the White House in a way that I often didn't hear people saying about Giuliani in the City Hall press office in New York.

      Ms. Garrett, dahling, you overlooked the main thing.  All those disrespectful reporters voted for Clinton, except a few who voted Green.

      What the press needs is a lot more reporters and editors who voted for W. because they thought he was the best man, and a lot more reporters and editors who thought 'Maybe I was wrong to vote Democratic.'  Then you'd have a chance of figuring out the world today.



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