The Death of the Media
The moment that will always define Chuck Todd to me is when he had the privilege of asking the very first question of newly inaugurated Barack Obama at Obama’s first White House press conference, and the question he chose to ask was “If Democrats pass a healthcare bill with no Republican votes, will you veto it in the interests of bipartisanship?”
Of course this is a favorite trope of mine and I bring it out regularly whenever there is a moment with Upchuck that requires us to examine his deep thoughts. We are at such a moment now.
Upchuck’s thesis statement is as dishonest of the problem as can be:
“But there’s a new kind of campaign underway, one that most of my colleagues and I have never publicly reported on, never fully analyzed, and never fully acknowledged: the campaign to destroy the legitimacy of the American news media.”
Notice how he passively never names the actors out to destroy the legitimacy of the American news media? Not even once in this entire LONG article does he use the name of one of our two political parties who have gone off the rails and now regularly are calling the press, in public, at rallies, and on social media the Enemy of the People; it is not the Left that is calling in death threats, and it was not a leftist who shot up a newsroom in Florida. You will not find the work “Republican” in the entire piece, he just cannot say it. (And in a tribute to the power of Both Sides, you won’t find the word “Democrat” either. Balance!) The Russian judges give him a perfect 10 for performing the Triple Salchow of Doublespeak!
And in Upchuck’s piece, nowhere does he ever mention his own participation in creating this moment that he now laments. This is as close as he gets:
“For years, I didn’t say a word about this publicly, and at times I even caught myself drawing false equivalencies because I was afraid of being labeled as biased. I know that stating the obvious will draw attacks, but I’ve also learned that the louder critics bark, the more they care about what’s being reported.”
That takes some brass balls and strategic forgettary; there’s no introspection there at all.
Some might interpret this essay as some sort of mea culpa, it is not. He is suggesting that journalists (and not pundits like himself) need to toughen up and rebut the attacks from… well, he only names Fox News and more specifically long-dead Roger Ailes.
In other words, the underpaid people, the actual reporters who are wearing out their shoe leather to get a story need to go to war so that the overpaid, over-stuffed Villagers can continue to go to the Hamptons for cocktail parties and shake their heads and commiserate over Mai Tais and weiners and wonder what the people west of the Hudson actually think.
We could write as long a piece as Upchuck, but I don’t think we need to.
(Full disclosure: Chuck Todd blocks me and MPS on social media.)