Thursday, March 08, 2007

The journalist as supplicant

There are a lot of important implications arising from the role journalists played in the Scotter Libby trial, all explored in this story from the NYT.

I want to highlight just one of them: the sorry spectacle of bigfoot, insider journalists dancing around both common sense and common decency in attempts to justify their behavior. There were plenty of examples; here's one taste, where the Times' story contrasts journalists' behavior with two earlier, more principled newsmen:

“I wonder,” Professor Kirtley said, “if part of it is that Caldwell and Farber were proudly outsiders.” By contrast, the journalists who testified at the Libby trial were Washington insiders, and they gave the public a master class in access journalism. It was not always a pretty sight.

“They’re not fearless advocates,” Professor Feldstein said of the reporters involved, “but supplicants, willing and even eager to be manipulated.”

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