Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly was detained in Ferguson, Missouri Wednesday while trying to make himself the story and refusing to leave a McDonald’s. He also claimed to have been “assaulted” but said that video of the event was “deleted when my other phone died.” Then he did something deplorable for a journalist, even for a smug hack: He cried about it.
“I was shocked it was happening. I just, frankly, couldn’t believe it. In certain ways I think I’m at a privileged position as a reporter and frankly as a white male that this is something you don’t really expect to happen to you,” Reilly sniffled on the extremely low-rated video podcast thing HuffPo Live.
There’s no reason to even bring up the Ferguson situation here because this fake reporter had no interest in Ferguson, or in anything except the edification of an ego that obviously grew in inverse proportion to the number of times that nobody he met at parties knew who he was. This isn’t about police brutality or the brutality of the protesters, or the racial powder keg exploding right now in St. Louis County, scene of the 1917 labor riots and the shortened playing career of Curt Flood. This is about one pathetic moron.
There’s an idea in journalism now that if you can’t break a story (and no, like America, I haven’t seen the “J. Reilly” byline on anything before this) then pull a stunt instead. OK, well, not most people’s cup of tea but at least there’s a precedent for it. Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin ran a stunt mayoral campaign, George Plimpton specialized in journalistic stunts.
But the for the love of God, if you’re going to make yourself the story and get your ass kicked by a cop, don’t start crying about it. When Mike Wallace got beaten up at the 1968 Democratic convention, did he then take to the airwaves and cry like a spoiled, overweight suburban child? Did Edward R. Murrow pause in his coverage of Senator McCarthy to cry that Tailgunner Joe was being mean to him?
Was Reilly’s crying genuine? Probably, considering that he was crying about his own ass getting kicked and liberal Generation Y’s understanding of hardship is entirely self-centered. Could Reilly have also been crying as part of his stunt? Maybe. But if so, what does that say about modern journalism?
Writers, believe it or not, used to be cool. That was actually, for a decades-long spell in magazine history, one of the prerequisites for the job. In order to chronicle one’s times, one must be detached, smart, tough, fair, objective, willing to put himself in tough situations and then not cry like a little baby if something goes wrong.
But in today’s liberal online journalism, the kids writing for mass consumption have about as much in common with Norman Mailer as, well…for one thing, they’re not nearly as smart and they’ve probably never even heard of Norman Mailer. For another, they think that to garner sympathy for themselves they need to go on television and cry about how they got beaten up.
These are the whiny brats who are trying to foist “Speech Codes” on our country so that nobody can be allowed to say anything politically incorrect. These are the snot-nosed paste-eaters who have taken a news business that used to be about reporting the news and turned it into a shrill, pitiful social-media activism exercise to fill the headlines with idiotic charges of cultural insensitivity so as to distract from their beloved president’s inability to govern the country. These are the lactose-intolerant dweebs who have a chance to go on the airwaves and take part in the journalistic tradition and instead use the opportunity to show hyper-competitive foreign powers that our journalists go to McDonald’s and then cry about it.
So congratulations, Ryan J. Reilly. You are the ultimate modern journalist. America has never looked stronger on the world stage.
Correction: Reilly says he was released approximately 45 minutes after being detained by police.