I’ve got a new Think Again called “The Conspiracy Nuts Take Over,” whichcompares media coverage of “truthers” vs. “birthers” and you can find ithere. (Mickey is a former student of mine at Brooklyn College).
That’s all I did this week, but do take a look at Victor Navasky’sletter (in and about TNR) heretogether with the two pathetic responses it generated, and muse for a moment, on the relative moral merits of each publication as represented by Mr. Peretzand The Nation‘s publisher emeritus.
Now here’s a post by Reed Richardson, a former military officer who was once my student atColumbia and my intern at The Nation.
“We Live in a Political World”
Greetings, fellow Altercators. Reed Richardson here. As a former studentand Nation intern of Eric’s, he has been kind enough to lend me the keysto the Altercation store today to talk about a subject near and dear tomy heart. You see, I’m a big fan of this American democratic experimentwe have here. In fact, at one point in my life, I swore an oath to giveup my life, if necessary, to support and defend this country’sConstitution, so I find it more than troubling when some choose towillfully abstain from exercising their right to vote or, worse yet,make it harder on others to exercise their full political freedoms. Andyet, as a journalist, I find myself working in a profession that, whilecritical for the proper functioning of our democracy, has becomeincreasingly antagonistic toward its individual members participating init. Over at the Harvard University journal Nieman Reports, I’ve writtenan essay arguing that the traditional American media’s growing antipathytoward public political activity within its ranks is counterproductiveand that a more open, transparent journalism model would be better fornot only readers and the press, but, in the long run, our country aswell. If you have a few moments, check it out here, as I’d be interestedhearing thoughts/comments.
As I note in the essay, our press’ dedication to impartial, objectivereporting has long meant having to deal with an uncomfortable dilemmaregarding the imperfect, subjective nature of its practitioners. Toresolve this dilemma, a few notable journalists in the Washington presscorps have gone so far as to publicly swear off their politicalfranchise in a pious attempt to remain politically chaste. Forgive me,though, if I don’t see how not casting a ballot helps any reporter fightfor the truth or an executive editor oversee better coverage,particularly when these contorted standards lead them to make bizarre,Orwellian claims such as “I like everybody I cover, and I dislikeeverybody I cover, and I try to do it in equal proportion” or “I didn’tjust stop voting–I stopped having even private opinions aboutpoliticians or issues, so that I would have a completely open mind.” Asto how well this works out, I’ll let you decide. (And while no one iswithout journalistic sin, at least some of these same folks’colleagues/successors haven’t sanctimoniously abjured their civicresponsibilities along the way).