Monday, July 10, 2006

Does the Most August Shorenstein Center at Harvard Hold Itself to the Same Standard That It Does the Blogs?

The Boston Globe article by Michael Grynbaum about the tussle between Kos and Zengerle of the incredible shrinking New Republic had legs. It's been much discussed on the blogs and in the corporate media. Some of the latter even noted that Zengerle most un-journalistically neglected to check out his bogus sources while slamming Kos for journalistic sins. This teensy detail somehow slipped past Grynbaum, the professional journalist, while being reported all over the leftist blogs.

Passing by Grynbaum's use of comments by an editor of that late and great model of journalistic excellence, "George Magazine", let me point out something that hasn't been discussed, the mandatory quote from the Shorenstein Center.

"The Blogosphere has always been mainly about scrutinizing everybody else and expressing violent opinions about them," said Alex X. Jones, director of Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy." "Kos is a very powerful blog, so in that sense it's taken on the vulnerability of some of the [political] leaders." My bolding.

The Shorenstein Center being one of those institutions that mix the officially respectable with those actually worthy of respect, let me selectively list some of its fellows and honorees.

Connie Chung, John Ellis, Rick Kaplan, Judy Woodruff, Alan Simpson, Roger Rosenblather, uh, Rosenblatt, Evan Thomas, Andrea Mitchell and Jim Lehrer.

- Alan Simpson was the Senator from Wyoming who lectured the "haughty and pampered" press on its being so mean over human rights lapses by that great, and well oiled, friend of America, Saddam Hussein, very shortly before that became politically untenable. Then he denied it. I seem to recall CNN puclicly announcing that it had film of Simpson making veiled threats of congressional action which they declined to release. Makes you wonder what else he has to teach journalists.

- John Ellis, Bush cousin and promoter of the family interests during his hobby career as a journalist. Cousin Ellis, as you will remember, was at FOX in 2000 where he held up the declaration of Gore as the winner while sharing inside information with cousin George's campaign on election night as the putsch was ignited. I'm sure he had lots to tell about standards of ethics during his Shorenstein time. He has also been honored by cousin George.

- Rick Kaplan, the man who stole Tucker Carlson away from PBS for MSNBC which he was running. Removing Carlson's malignant presence from PBS may have been his crowning achievement in journalism. MSNBC under him remained a right-wing sewer. Just how running it and hiring Carlson fit in to the Shorenstein's vision of quality journalism is worth a book in itself.

- Judy Woodruff, anyone who saw her slavish shilling for Republicans needs no explaination of her presence on this list.

- Evan Thomas and Roger Rosenblatt both held a "Murrow" Visiting Professorship. I'm not saying those folks at the Shorenstein don't have a sense of irony. I wonder if anyone was indelicate enough to mention getting people killed with journalism, Thomas' unique talent. Certainly not Roger Rosenblatt, the ever correct if vapid and otherwise useless essayist.

Finally there is the Shorenstein's Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism. Jim Lehrer and Andrea Mitchell are the two most recent recipients. Enough said.

Come to think of it, Connie Chung is too much of a journalist to go on the list. Sorry, Connie.

Does the leadership of the Shorenstein feel as free to criticize its associated professional journalists and power players as it does the blogs? Does it consider their multiple sins and shortcomings as painting the entire commercial media in the same way it has painted the blogs over alleged actions by individual bloggers? These professionals are all freely hired by media companies with large budgets whereas the blogs generally operate on an individual, volunteer basis. Their being hired and retained while practicing the most disgusting lapses of alleged jounalistic ethics can't be seen as anything but an endorsement of their practices. Bloggers are self-selected. Is the Shorenstein Center really proud of these honorees or is it just another case of Harvard choosing to not notice the smell while chasing after the rich and prestigious?

Note: I believe "Roger Rosenblather" is a Howard Zinn quote, just to live up to a standard of journalistic ethics befitting a leftist blogger.

Also, for the record, while respecting Markos' achievement I'm not a regular reader of Daily Kos and have never felt beholden to it, its community or its founder. Anyone who describes Kos as having any kind of leadership in the huge, diverse and wonderfully independent world of leftist blogging hasn't got a clue. You can leave me out of it, thank you. Besides, everyone knows it's really James Wolcott and The Rude Pundit who set the pace. Get with it, Shorenstein.

This teensy detail somehow slipped past Grynbaum, the professional journalist, while being reported all over the leftist blogs.

Isn't he an intern? I would suggest that this was design, so that the journalamism wouldn't be so much ascribed to TNR itself ("Hey, it's not our fault! The kid's still learning!"), except that Zengerle was the one who actually used a fake e-mail without doing a whole lelluva lot to verify its authenticity.
Ah, the ever flexible standards of The Journalistic Code of Ethics.

Nothing is worse than reading them slam the blogs while honoring cabloid trash. I watched Tucker last night, having given up the cabloids it meant going out of my way a bit. Watching him dog paddling while trying to bend stories to fit his agenda - and panicing when the guy from the SPLC most gratifyingly refused to let him do it to him - confirmed my decision that the cabloids are a a malignant influence on the nation. A quick run by of the other three cabloids available here gave the same results.

No, not even for Steve Colbert and Olberman will I patronize the cabloids.
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