A former San Francisco Chronicle Bureau Chief once described to me phone calls he would receive from irate readers convinced that the editors of all the major American papers were conspiring behind closed doors over the best ways to manipulate public opinion.
While I don’t believe the Chief was lying when he would deny this scenario, today’s journolist revelations will unfortunately reinforce the stereotype that the Fourth Estate is a shadowy collection of political operatives. Even worse, they hurt non-partisan members of the press trying to do their jobs.
Any collusion on this level should immediately be shunned, but it would be perhaps a little less jarring if it took place over malicious rumors, like the birther nonsense, instead of a legitimate story. Yes, Rove and the gang had a vested interest in the Wright narrative, but it was nevertheless newsworthy. Obama should have been expected by reporters to prove his mettle as a candidate by addressing the controversy, which he ultimately did in his “A More Perfect Union” speech.
It may not be the death knell for journalism predicted by Andrew Breitbart, but it is still a deeply troubling blow to both journalism and journalists.
Justin Duckham is a Washington correspondent with the Talk Radio News Service. He was a music journalist in California before making the jump to politics. Justin was a member of UC Merced’s founding class and graduated with a degree in History and minors in American Studies and Philosophy.