The Research That Caused the Migraine

The Research That Caused the Migraine:
This morning, the Rude Pundit was plugging away, researching a piece on how, during the Watergate scandal, media figures went apeshit berserker over Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, seeing them as self-aggrandizing fame whores who'd blow an anonymous source in a corner if it'd get them one more front page scoop. He was working on this as a reaction to the deep well of animosity towards Guardian columnist/classified document depository Glenn Greenwald.

'Cause, see, history has proven Woodward and Bernstein's reporting, while just a piece of the overall story of the fall of Richard Nixon (something they themselves admitted in the book All the President's Men, which nobody actually reads since the film came out), was a valid and necessary exercise of a free press. Who cares if they made money on it? Who cares if they had huge-dick egos about breaking one of the biggest stories in, you know, American history? Christ, if Twitter and comments threads were around in the early 1970s, they'd've been vilified as assholes and liars. As it was, they were accused of that, of making up Deep Throat and more. But none of that changes the importance of their reporting, especially against an administration that had been openly contemptuous and criminally active towards the media.

The story ain't the messenger. It's the story. If you make it about the messenger, then you are ignoring the story, which is just what the subject of the story wants.

Oh, the Rude Pundit had good intentions. And then something in his brain popped, and, like an exploding bottle rocket, the migraine burst in stars all over his head. He vomited. He passed out, delirious, and awoke a little while ago wondering where the fuck the day had gone. So little drinking time left in the afternoon. Gotta take advantage of that empty stomach fast track to inebriation.

So he'll leave you with this quote, from Chet Huntley, he of the Huntley-Brinkley Report, which was NBC's evening news until 1970. He gave a speech in 1973 at the Montana Press Association's annual convention titled "A Disturbing Arrogance in the Press." In it, Huntley played the old sage taking the young whippersnappers to the woodshed for a good spanking with a switch. While disturbed a bit by Nixon's press attacks, he said, "In my opinion, there is an arrogance, a haughty smugness, a conceit running through too damned much of our journalism today." This attitude, he felt, got in the way of telling a fair and balanced story. Get off his lawn.

Would that more of our journalists were arrogant, smug, and conceited enough to believe they had a duty to go after the powerful instead of being merely arrogant, smug, and conceited because they have access to the powerful.

By the way, Nixon returned the favor when Huntley died in 1974, saying, "I have learned with sorrow of the death of Chet Huntley. One of America's earliest and finest television newsmen, he will be remembered as a pioneer in electronic reporting and as a true professional who tried to present the news fairly and objectively." In the midst of the Watergate investigation, that's pretty much the worst thing Nixon could have said about a journalist.