Friday, April 6, 2012

Reince Priebus acts like a dick

Journalists are supposed to ask tough questions. That's their job. But Republicans have perfected the art of making them back off.

Watch how Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, does it: "Well, I know how you're going to vote, Carol." And later: "You've been reading the Democratic talking points for the last seven minutes, Carol." (That's Carol Costello at CNN.)

He's riding that right-wing hobbyhorse, liberal media bias. Now, for journalists - note that I do not include Fox News employees - bias is a serious issue. Everyone has biases, of course, but real journalists try very hard to be fair.

Still, if you're asking questions of the Republicans, you probably should be using Democratic talking points, don't you think? And likewise, using Republican claims when questioning Democrats? How better to ask the tough questions?

Of course, what she's really doing is just stating the truth. She's attempting to be a good journalist. And no, it's not good journalism to just let a political operative ramble wherever he wants.

But Priebus does get what he wants, doesn't he? She backs off, and he gets to make his long, rambling statement - even throwing Israel in there, although I have no idea how Israel is supposed to "turn our economy completely around" and make our unemployment rate drop.

Given Fox News, which is basically just the propaganda arm of the GOP, it's remarkable that Republicans can do this, isn't it? But in the background, the right-wing chorus is constantly chanting "liberal media bias," and the mainstream media just bends over backward trying to prove it isn't true.

As I say, this is a serious accusation to make to a real journalist. And if repeated often enough, even CNN viewers will start to believe it - at least some of them. Costello's bosses won't like that, so she's probably not going to get any brownie points for any of this. It's safer just to skip the tough questions.

And so Republicans get softball interviews. They get to make long, rambling political statements on national TV. And they get to claim that they're being victimized. It's quite a racket.

For America, we get the kind of journalism where asking a candidate for high political office what newspapers and magazines she reads is considered an unfair, "gotcha" question. We get presidential debates where the moderators can't even bring up what's been in the news. Journalists learn to stick with softball questions, and all of America loses.

Now me, I'm biased, but I still want to be accurate. So I didn't go with my original title, "Reince Priebus is a dick." After all, I don't actually know if he is a dick, or if he was just acting like a dick for cynical political reasons. And I do want to be fair.


Jeff said...

I have one idea to pin the Right down:

If the media supposedly has a "liberal bias," then what liberal group(s) owns CNN and the big 3 major networks? GE, Time/Warner, Disney, and Viacom hardly strike me as "liberal."

And if these reporters are supposedly "liberal," then why haven't their corporate, possibly conservative, bosses fired them for conflict of interest (remember: Viacom's CEO publicly supported G.W. Bush in 2004)?

You have to pin the Right down and call their bluff. That's always frustrated me about the Left; they don't call the Right's bluff often enough. You and I have read enough to know that the Right is mostly bluff and bullshit.

WCG said...

You might be right, Jeff. But if you've ever managed to change a conservative's mind - about anything, pretty much - I take my hat off to you.

I've heard people make that argument about conservative corporate ownership. Often. But I've never seen it make much difference.

Conservatives generally believe what they want to believe. In fact, that's my big problem with them. They're faith-based, not evidence-based. So they're especially hard to pin down with reason and evidence.

Jeff said...

Point taken. I'd probably have better luck convincing Anakin Skywalker that Emperor Palpatine IS evil. :)