Two journalists explain their profession
Washington Post reporter Jonathan Weisman participated in an August 25 online discussion on the newspaper's website:
West Coast: Dick Cheney said he was stuck with the grave decision of whether to shoot down the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania or not. The recently released NORAD tapes confirm that the government first knew of the flight one minute before it went down. Is Cheney lying, again, or was he thinking very fast that day, with his drama unfolding within 60 seconds? I've yet to read anywhere that Cheney has been queried about his story. THANKS.
Jonathan Weisman: If I can get him on the phone, I will query him. Cheney's statements present a quandary for us reporters. Sometimes we write them up and are accused of being White House stenographers and stooges for repeating them. Then if we don't write them up, we are accused of being complicit for covering them up. So, all you folks on the left, what'll it be? Complicity or stenography?
We can't speak for all the "folks on the left," but we suspect most of them would choose "Option C: Journalism."
Indeed, several participants in the online discussion made exactly that point. As one put it: "[R]esearch and intelligent questions based on said research that makes up 'Reporting'. Retyping statements without research is 'Stenography'. Avoiding asking tough questions because it makes your original stenography look really, really bad is 'Complicity'." Weisman, showing nothing but contempt for his readers -- and, though it seems he didn't realize it, for his profession -- responded with a series of churlish comments like "Please apply for my job" and "Sometimes, you folks really drive us nuts."
We can assure Mr. Weisman that the feeling is mutual.
Is it any wonder that the media has done such a poor job of educating Americans? They can't even decide if reporting the facts is more important than avoiding illogical criticism! If reporting the news “with a point of view”* is the price we pay for avoiding journalist-retards like this guy, it’s a small price to pay.
*A description employed by Fox news.Update: Berkeley-local Brad Delong asks the same question.