Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Forget Superman, Where's Lois Lane when You Need Her?

My kingdom for an investigative reporter. The lack of one may eventually cost us ours.

In this day and age, a reporter should be savoring life. There are computers. There are countless ways to fact check. With blogs and twitter and syndicates and feeds, those who want to know and aren't willing to settle for spin, or pedal spin, should be at the top of their game.

And talk about job security, between investigating bills, investigating the campaigns and fact checking the materials put forth by our Congress, by our courts, by our entertainers and our sports heroes; there's scarely be time to eat. So I'm asking reporters to put on their walking shoes, not because I want to hold feet to the fire, but because we can't safeguard our liberties if we buy a bill of goods!

These days, reporters cover the story but they don't investigate. As a columnist, it seems dangerous to accuse a class of people I presumably long to belong to, of falling down on the job. However I see a pattern and it is disturbing.

Tiger Woods was a philandering cad for years and everyone in the sports world that covered him apparently knew it. Nobody reported it until it was revealed by Tiger's actions. Apparently, it was a gentleman's agreement to not reveal Tiger wasn't a gentleman, agreed to by those covering him from Nike to NBC to Sports Illustrated.

Anyone with eyes could see that the skinny speedy Mark McGuire of his early days transformed into a wall of highly stretched bulging flesh and that such a radical body change probably wasn't the result of mere diet and exercise. Steroid abuse in baseball was rampant. Yet it wasn't discussed execpt as a rumor, a vicious rumor, as the path of outsiders and cheaters. No one belled the cat until Canseco.

The Collusion in baseball by the Chicago "Black" Sox has nothing on the collusion by the current sports media to ignore both of these stories "for the good of their respective sports." What else aren't they telling?

Even a cursory glance at the book Game Change indicates there were many unreported stories about candidates that might have made a difference in the horserace of last year. Who knows what hasn't been reported?

The Edwards in the 2007-2008 election race were complete frauds and their staff knew it, and many in the media suspected it. No one investigated it. No one reported it until the National Enquirer brought forth pictures and proof. The stories of the dandy Edwards, of his affair, of his wife's meltdowns, reveal character. The omission of all these stories until a year after the election when a best selling telling book can be marketed, also reveals the lack of character.

Freedom of the press was designed to create a watchdog for the government and the public, not a lapdog for the former that viciously keeps the rest of us off the lawn.

The Acorn scandal has been swept under the rug. No one is seriously upset that tax payer dollars are funding a corrupt organization willing to allow for the immigration and prostitution of minors. No one feels troubled by the President's affiliation with such a morally bankrupt organization, just like no one should be troubled by the affiliation with Rev. Wright or William Ayers. There's no story because there's no AP reporter.

The Healthcare bill has been so clandestine and corrupt a process, it would not be believable as satire. But the cause, the need to create SOMETHING, trumps actual demanding of analysis by the media experts. They're just so happy there will be a bill, it doesn't matter what's in it or how much it costs or what it covers. Again, the power of the press to withhold is even more powerful than its power to expose.

For most of two weeks, the President stayed quiet about the bomber on Christmas day. No one has pinned him down about specifics that will be changed or actual mistakes that were made, they're just eager to say, "He said the buck stopped here! He admitted to the mistake." No one is asking what actually was the error, who made it, and why aren't they fired or at least questioned. The Washington Post went so far as to op-ed a piece anonymously about how the President should take questions from the press about these concerns, and that it is lamentable that he hasn't. But no one is asking any questions anyway. They're just hoping the commander in chief feels chatty at the next press gathering.

We live in an age of opine and talking points, where a clever blog with a crafty take can set the narrative template for political thinking. We pretend nothing is wrong if we can find someone on the dial or on the air we agree with in principle. The problem is opinions are not facts. When opinion substitutes for gumshoe reporting, the compelling story and winning ideology trumps character and trumps truth.

We can hope for the truth to will out, but I'd feel more secure about our political process, about our freedoms and about our government, if a few good reporters would deliberately go about the hard process of connecting the dots and informing the people in a timely fashion; long before writing a tell all book.


Karen said...

Op-Ed pieces are not "anonymous." They provide the official position of a newspaper and usually reflect the efforts of many editorial staff members.

MightyMom said...

I think the gumshoe reporters of today are going to be unpaid bloggers. rather than AP bobbleheads.

Karen, if there's not a name signed at the bottom or given in a by line....then it's ANONYMOUS.

JimmyV said...

Amen, as always sister. But the truth is not as profitable as spin, unfortunately.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!