Thursday, February 10, 2005

Newsies or floozies?

Journalists rely on the five “W”s in order to give the best-possible information: Who? What? When? Where? Why? Given recent events, however, another “W” seems to have arisen: “whore.” By taking bribes from the subjects of their articles, several journalists have recently hurt the already scarred face of the media. Who is to blame for this trend? Yet another “W”: George Bush.

Some writers already prostitute themselves for nothing, by being overly inoffensive and apologetic to the point of being blissfully ignorant of the need for change. Their pieces aim not to inform or to provoke, but to avoid conflict. They can’t read between the lines because they don’t even read the actual lines.

Others require a slight nudge to the wallet to be truly programmed. Several journalists have been busted accepting money from the Republican Party to write pieces favorable to the conservative cause. The Bush administration, worried that the White House press corps was hovering near treason with its mere 98.9-percent loyalty rate, hired a writer named Jeff Gannon and planted him among the press corps. Gannon’s penchant for asking fluff disguised as questions wasn’t what gave him away; rather, it was his association with his supposed employer, Talon News.

Talon News is an organization that, by its own words, is “committed to delivering accurate, unbiased news coverage.” Gannon represented literally half of the organization (that’s right—more people contribute to just this page of The Vermilion than work for Talon). The other employee is Bobby Eberle, head of a group called GOPUSA, whose mission is to “spread the conservative message throughout America.” Talon’s Web site offers numerous sidebar links to Republican sites and a banner ad offering “Any three conservative books for $1 each!” Moreover, articles on the Talon News site link to GOPUSA, the agency’s “number-one client.” If this site was supposedly nonpartisan before the scandal broke, it must really have come out of the closet in recent days.

Gannon is just the latest in what appears to be a chain of journalistic hookers being caught in the act. Armstrong Williams, a conservative multimedia dynamo, recently admitted that throughout 2004 he had been paid by the Bush administration to promote the No Child Left Behind Act in his columns and on his show, The Right Side. His $240,000 gift would have been better spent bribing the teachers and students who have to suffer through No Child Left Behind. Money poorly spent, if you ask me.

Syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher has repeatedly expressed support for the Bush administration’s anti-gay-marriage proposals, to the tune of $21,500 from the Department of Health and Human Services. The HHS also hired columnist Michael McManus to support the same programs. Plus, the Pentagon has allegedly paid journalists to write favorable articles for the Southeast European Times, a U.S. military mouthpiece disguised as a Mediterranean news site.

I’m having a hard time deciding which is more pathetic: that an American presidential administration has to hire columnists to write good things about them or that the columnists are actually willing to do it.

Fortunately, I’m not yet at the point where my integrity takes a backseat. When writing this column, I would never cheapen the independence of my words by mentioning that I watch The Jon Stewart Show every night on Comedy Central at 10 p.m. CST. And you’d never catch me writing here that I get the red out with Visine. You see, I pride myself on my editorial freedom. And on my Arizona jeans.

But for those journalists who have been caught selling out, or have yet to be busted, I simply ask you this: couldn’t you at least have better taste?

24 comments:

MPH said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MPH said...

Sorry hit the wrong key. Who needs integrity when the money is right? I learned that first day of journalism school

Ian McGibboney said...

I remember being told
(when I was maybe nine) that journalists and talking heads were not allowed to advertise. I used to find that strange, but now I understand. And now they do it all the time. Figures.

MagicalShrimp said...

Why in hell would anyone need to organize and 'spread the conservative message?' It's not exactly being drowned out, is it?

The Manning Report said...

Maybe you should tell Dan Rather about those 5 W's. I think he could really use that information.

Phillip said...

Manning, how much did Dan Rather get paid to air that segment on Bush's "service" (which, by the way, had all the ccorrect information, just unreliable sources)?

Armstrong Williams, Michael McManus and Maggie Gallagher. See, I can think of three people right there (NOT including Jeff "Gannon") whom the White House paid to spout propaganda WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS.

Who among the "liberal media" do you know of who took tax dollars to promote a liberal message?

You can't compare Dan Rather with any of these people. Rather's sources were bad, that's all. And he resigned because of it. How many of your Fox News anchors would have the integrity to quit if they made a mistake?

Ian McGibboney said...

These paid-off conservative columnists remind me of those advertisements-described-as-articles supposedly written by freelance writers. They'll even have pictures of that writer. But then you'll see the same face-shot in a picture frame in some store later on.

Phillip said...

I read about how the White House called in Bill Kristol to assist with the state-of-the-union address, which he did, and after the president gave the address he went on television saying how great of a speech it was.

Oh, but... Dan Rather!

Ian McGibboney said...

Of course, phizz. But they're Republcans, so it's okay. You know, I think their obsession with Dan Rather stems from the difficulty they had in finding a non-conservative reporter who made a mistake. See, the columnists and reporters like those I mentioned, the conservative whores, are not news. There's plenty of those, and they know it. That's why they cling so hopelessly to Dan Rather's error. And, come to think of it, Ted Kennedy too. There's simply nothing else to ridicule on that level for them.

gambitch said...

I've heard often enough that the so-called 'liberal media' in America self-censors quite a bit and doesn't report on lots of things people think it should. That's bad enough, but then that happens everywhere because people want to make sure they still have a job. This, however, takes the cake.

People may have every valid reason to dislike Dan Rather (I haven't watched him myself over a long period, so no comment), but something tells me the whole storm over him may just be a red herring to distract us from that other scandal of people writing for Bush and pretending to be a journalist. Utterly disgusting, only topped by the fact that I suspect they'll get away with it and leave Dan Rather on the stake.

Phillip said...

Did you notice during the tsunami coverage how Fox News wasn't giving it much time? It's because they don't have reporters. CNN's ratings went up that week because they actually had reporters and cameras in the area.

Fox News isn't really news - they comment on AP stories and try to pass off talking points and opinions as factual news.

Ian McGibboney said...

Of course not! Fox News' broadcasting model is not unlike that of local eyewitness news, with its emphasis on personalities and ratings over legit news. Besides, it's hard to blame tsunamis on liberals without going too far over the god line.

Nick said...

Fox News wanting to blame the tsunamis on liberals? Funny you mentioned that. I somehow remember a bunch of liberals trying to blame Bush for the tsunami b/c of submarine testing w/ torpedoes and such. But then again, maybe I'm just off my rocker.

Ian McGibboney said...

Well yeah, you're off your rocker Nick, but I do see your point. If some liberals did allege that torpedoes cause the tsunami (I didn't hear about that), that would be dumb, sure. But probably still more fact-based than Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell saying that 9/11 happened because God hates liberals.

Ragin Cajun said...

"Who among the 'liberal media' do you know of who took tax dollars to promote a liberal message?" - phizz

Answer: PBS

Ian McGibboney said...

And...?

Nick said...

Another thing guys, why don't we just all admit what has really happened? The media is not all left winged or all right winged. Sure, I'll admit it. Fox News does lean right. However, CBS w/ Dan Rather and ABC w/ that canadian, Peter Jennings, both lean left. Most of talk radio is right-wing. Most of the nation's big newspapers, NY Times, LA Times, are very far left.

You have to sort through the news. If you get all your news from just one or two sources, and believe it all, then you're an idiot. Me personally, I sort through AT LEAST 5 sources before I decide what is actually true.

However, though, I do have to share this story. My buddy and I (Benji, Icon knows him), threw a keg party at his house last Sat. night, and we had a couple of his buddies from the Marines who fought in Iraq that showed up. They told me that they don't like any of the news. The said that Fox News doesn't show quite all the bad stuff, yet, CNN and co. do not show nearly all the good things they are doing. It was actually a plesant discussion.

However, they both seemed to agree w/ me. Some of the most unbiased news you could get is from a gulf coast radio show, Walton and Johnson. They will criticize anyone and everyone, Bush, Kerry, etc. I encourage anyone who can find them on the radio, listen to Walton and Johnson, especially early in the morning, before 7am.

Ian McGibboney said...

Nick, with what did the Marines agree with you? That's an important point.

As for the media: if a news source is to the left of Fox, it does not necessarily mean that it is to the left. I suspect that a lot of news sources are put under the "liberal" blanket because they are willing to report bad things about Republicans when they should.

As for Walton and Johnson, I don't find that they are equal-opportunity. They do bash both sides, but I get the feeling that they are Republicans more than anything else. Besides, their voices grate on me.

Nick said...

Icon:

They (marines) agreed w/ what I just said, if you get your news from just one or two sources, you're an idiot, point blank. Also, they agreed that though Bush is by far not the perfect guy for the presidency, Kerry offered no better (hell, neither probably really care about the American people) .

As for Walton and Johnson, they are probably about the most independent news source you will find. What, you think Terry Gross and NPR is more unbiased? To prove W&J's unbiased approach, they actually liked Kucinnich, b/c, dispite is politics, at least he had backbone to stand up for his constituents. Also, they recently broke all ties w/ Clear Channel, people whom you liberals like to claim own the radio airwaves for Repubs. W&J hate Clear Channel. I recomend everyone give a Radio Gawds a try. Trust me, unless you're a loon, you won't go back to a different morning show.

Phillip said...

Cajun - When PBS accepts grants from the government they don't do it under the stipulation that they'll craft shows to promote the policies of that government. Nor do they agree to pass on their opinions as "news", like Williams, "Gannon" et. al.

Unless you think the White House is paying PBS to promote liberal ideals?

ThomasMcCay said...

As has been noted before, the problem with corruption is that it can work so well.

Corrupt underhanded practices have been the standard MO for this clique professional liars, they no longer know the difference between truth and their own BS. They seem to follow the idea that if enough people believe it, then it is true.

The kind of money they have to play with, tax money yet, can buy many souls. Borrowed money it is too, given the insanity of the deficit.

It's America man, every thing is for sale.

oyster said...

This is a lively thread, so bear with me as I insert a small technical correction. "Talon News" consists of more than Gannon and Eberle. I know this, because I've referred to Jimmy Moore's articles on Martin Luther King's ILLIBERALISM in the past. Jimmy is a (volunteer staff writer) from South Carolina who went lo-carb and brought his weight down to under 400lbs. He is one of several "reporters" on the "staff". Another I recall did an informative piece on creationist geology.

thehim said...

Just a correction to add to this thread. Independent studies have shown that PBS has a higher percentage of conservative commentators than liberal ones. The reason that there is a perceived bias is because what most Bush-supporters consider "conservative" has nothing to do with real conservatism.

Ian McGibboney said...

Thanks for the corrections, guys. It's great that we look out for each other.

Oyster, I've been looking into the multiple-writer thing on Talon News. Several sources are reporting that Eberle and Gannon were the only two employees there. At the same time, however, I notice that the site does link to articles by other writers. But those articles are GOPUSA commentaries, not Talon works. Even if other writers have contributed to Talon (and I don't doubt that they have) in a volunteer/freelance capacity, then they still aren't considered employees. Eberle and Gannon were running the show, which is my point more than anything.