Thursday, April 22, 2004

The Free Press At Work

Shortly after Bush's last prime-time press conference (which, I believe was right before the war in Iraq), it leaked out that the reporters who asked questions were selected in advance by the White House, lending an air of grotesque absurdity to the scene of all the other reporters raising their hands, as if they would be called on. In journalism, this is a big no-no. It's an even bigger sin to give your questions to a source in advance for approval before asking them at a press conference. This is not journalism, it's stage-management. It's similar to what goes on at press conferences in undemocratic regimes.

So, is this going on in America? Read this Washington Monthly tidbit, which includes some emails from the assistant to the "public editor" (that's the new way of saying "ombudsman") at the New York Times.

Two conundrums here. One: Why doesn't the public editor himself respond to reader queries? Isn't that his whole job? If it's not, what exactly is his job?

Two: What the fuck? Arthur Bovino seems to be unaware that there is anything wrong with submitting questions before "spontaneously" asking them at a press conference. "Perhaps you might write to the president if you are unhappy with this system," he writes. Wow! What a fucking dick! No, asshole, instead of writing to the president, how about your car wreck of a newspaper gets its fucking act in gear for a change? There's a reason you got snubbed at the Pulitzers this year, Bovino.

-Consider Arms