With a whiff of nostalgia, I can imagine the old time journalist with the smell of coffee and cigarettes wafting through the click and clang of the typewriter. Fifty years ago, a “journalist” had the ring of a dispassionate, creative, honest, fair, and trusted detective/storyteller. Fifty years ago, if you graduated from an accredited journalism school, you were presumed “unbiased.” Much as the physician takes an oath that she will “first, do no harm,” the “journalist” title meant that you were first, unbiased and balanced. Neutrality in the story was as necessary as it was assumed.
Sometime between half a century ago and today, something went very, very wrong.
We can speculate on what the “something” was, but we may never know for sure. Much like the wind blows, there is no discernible source, but still we know it blows. Journalism became slanted to the left to the degree that the right had almost no voice by the mid-1980s. Almost no voice, until Rush Limbaugh came on the scene. Almost 30 years later, the tables have turned. The problem for these journalists is that they have functioned robotically and cavalierly for so long, that they are not aware of the reality around them. Things have changed. Drastically.
At CPAC 2010, I watched as the Mainstream Media (MSM) lashed out at Andrew Breitbart again and again. He could hardly walk through the hall of the hotel without being accosted by trolling media elites who were anxious to bully him. I watched as they tried all the old Alinsky tactics over and over, but Breitbart beat them at their own game. When they got in his face, he smacked them down hard and fast. It occurred to me; they weren’t aware that everything has changed.
I am the conservative political analyst for a local radio station that has been around forever. I love media, and I love my job there. I work for a true legend in St. Louis media, who has managed to be very balanced in his approach to his craft. There is one older, very liberal MSM journalist who’s show is just after mine. My show is only a 15-minute spot, his is hours long. Since he is on after me, he has taken to using clips (some in context, some out) of my show and lashing out with pejoratives against me and other conservatives. Evidently, he had no idea that everything has changed.
These four points form the “Perfect Storm” that (I will argue) have forever changed journalism:
1) Andrew Breitbart, established Big Government, Big Hollywood, Big Journalism, and Breitbart TV, and conservative journalists and media personalities are crawling out of the woodwork! They report and they gain supporters in droves, and are growing.
2) The Tea Party has arrived. The Tea Party is cellular and organic, and yet the individual members are remarkably cohesive. The Tea Party is all about action, and members stand ready and willing to come up against anyone they perceive to be dishonestly reporting the news.
3) There is such a huge rise in the number of citizen journalists that I can’t even count the CJ’s that are in my local Tea Party. They are becoming more and more tech-savvy and emboldened. The new media is armed and ready with cameras, mics, pen and paper, and beautiful “bloghood.”
4) Alinsky’s tactics were successfully employed for decades by unions, reporters, and liberals. With the birth of the Tea Party, Alinsky’s tactics were turned upon the secular progressives with a Ninja move by the right. Now boycotts turn to BUYcotts, bitchers turn to bloggers, and conservatives are behind the camera lenses.
So, listen up, MSM! The old, liberal reporter at my station found out the hard way. Friends of mine who thrive on this stuff confronted him at a recent socialized health care rally. He became red faced and angry, and pushed the cameraman with a black gloved hand. All of it, of course, was caught on tape, because that’s what we do.
The day I returned from watching Breitbart repeatedly smack down the MSM at CPAC10, I opened my email to discover that that old reporter is now subject to legal action for the incident. I tried to warn him that would happen if he didn’t straighten himself out. I believe he just did not understand that everything has changed. If he did believe it, I am not sure he could digest it fully. There is no way that a 40-year veteran did not know better than to push a cameraman. I believe the reality of the new era of politics smacked him upside the face, and he reacted.
They sit around, black coffee in one hand, cigarette in the other, wondering what has happened to radio and the “legendary” talent that is, well…unemployed. If they asked me, I would tell them that they should never have become so arrogant that they imposed their will on our craft. They revoked their right to be “legendary journalists” when they chose self over impartiality and balance. They successfully changed the rules of partiality in journalism; they did not successfully ensure their place in it. They will continue to die off, and many of them will no longer be working as journalists, if they are working at all.
They will be replaced with people like Andrew Breitbart, Hannah Giles, Glenn Reynolds and others. I would tell them to go find other work before they get into trouble, like the older journalist at my station did. And then, I would offer them some cream for their black coffee, and a breath mint, because the smoke and coffee smell on their breath really sickens me.
You can find this article as it was presented on Big Journalism at http://bigjournalism.com/gloudon/2010/02/26/ask-not-for-whom-the-bell-tolls-msm-it-tolls-for-thee/#more-29162