Sunday, January 06, 2008

The loneliness of the political reporter

By Libby

Chris Hayes muses on why political press corps stinks at its job. Basically, it's because they're a bunch of insecure people who have been given a high stakes beat and they're afraid of looking stupid by offering original thoughts straying from the narrative that's agreed upon at any given event. This is how we end up with such pap as proclamations on Hillary's meltdown at last night's debate.

I didn't watch the whole thing but I saw the 'damning' clip and she didn't look that pissed to me. I thought she came across as more real and less calculating than usual. Impassioned and candid, almost. That's what I would have reported, which is why I suppose the WaPo isn't going to invite me to join their Washington bureau any time soon. Independent thought is not welcome under today's journalistic 'standards.'

In a way I'm surprised that the press corps has devolved into such a mindless flock of stenographers. I've known many reporters in my life and like trial lawyers, they almost always struck me as frustrated actors. People who for one reason or another like to stand out in a crowd. They secretly crave attention and public accolades but settle for center stage in the courtroom or access to restricted zones, where they hobnob with the powerful by dint of their notebooks and cameras.

Time was when a journalist would distinguish themselves in the field with original thinking, superior investigative skills and thoughtful prose. Today, the rule is enforced homogeneity which leaves no room to stand out in the bleating crowd. It just doesn't make sense to me that a true reporter would settle for that kind of mediocrity, but I guess that's the only way to keep a job these days.
It's too bad, because we all suffer when the press allows their role to be so diminished.

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