Saturday, February 10, 2007

I'm not a real journalist, but I play one in DC

Given the heighten attention given to high profile investigations and trials, I make it a rule to ignore them until a decision is made. However, I’ve been drawn to the Libby trail by some blogs I’ve seen. As Ms. Huffington pointed out in her post here and here, the Scooter Libby trial for lying to the FBI and grand jury is illuminating more than just the inner workings of the administration. What Arianna calls the Washington Club of politicos and "journos" is one big happy and secretive society.

While secretive clubs are not new to politicians, it is just the sort of thing on which journalist are suppose to be reporting instead of being members in good standing.

It's as though you turned on the light at night in an infested room to see a pack of mice scurry for cover, and even scarier, you caught the cat socializing within the vermin's midst. If that's the case, how do you determine which is vermin? By what the cat says!?! I don't think so.

By the testimony from the news people and those of the administration, we know this special secret club has rules of engagement. What are these rules? Seems that would be newsworthy – and yet, it goes unreported.

William Powers at the National Journal offers up a discussion that we are seeing things the way they are and not some idealistic view of journalism. A "to lay down with dogs you got to break a few eggs" view of journalists in Washington. To report on politicians, you must act like one, you must become one with them. Is that in The Club’s rules?

A story in
WaPo, notes that the halls and cafeteria in the building where the trial is occurring is like high school with too many people with too much history with each other trying to look professional. Meg Greenfield's analogy rules.

A blog point to by Huffington called JustOneMinute offers up a very plausible scenario in which Russert had to lie to the FBI and on the stand because of were he had actually learned about Ms Wilson's CIA position. NBC in general and Russert in particular are covering up an even bigger story than who leaked what to whom.

The problem with that scenario goes back to what I’ve been harping on here about the MSM – especially DC MSM – if the problem was liberal bias we would be better served than what we are getting now. Andrea Mitchell, Dick Gregory, and Tim Russert having that kind of information and not running with it, belies the attention – in this case, air time – grabbing circus we now call professional journalism.

The only reason I can think of for why they would keep something like that secret is The Club’s rules. Maybe they feared more being kicked out of the club for reporting the Vice President’s office was trying to smear the name and reputation of a public servant regardless of who sent whom than the attention they would have received for reporting that to the rest of us.

In sports I’ve heard of something called a fans reporter or something like that. This sport reporter does not go down into the locker room or become good buddies with athletes on which they are reporting. They keep the perspective of the fan and report what they learn -- less insight but a more objective point of view. I don’t read sports enough to know how effective it is in the sports world, but it is a noble idea and journalism is eat up with stuff like that.

Maybe we need a citizens’ reporter in DC.
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