Thursday, June 9, 2011
A few hours ago, I started getting emails from bloggers and viewers of ON THE RECORD at 10pm about the New York Times and the Washington Post hiring help to go through Governor Sarah Palin’s emails. Apparently neither news organization has the resources or the drive to do the labor intensive “heavy lifting” of sorting through the Palin emails themselves so they are looking for help. My guess is that if this were the Pentagon papers, neither news organization would be outsourcing to others which might give you a bit of a hint as to whether they think themselves this is serious journalism or not.
At first I just read the emails from viewers and went on with my other work for tonight’s news show…but, as time marched on, the emails got more passionate. I was asked, for instance, whether the New York Times and the Washington Post were doing good journalism or on some non journalism mission (an agenda?) I was asked if the Post and the Times scoured as carefully the 2800 page health care reform bill (which is very important) for redundancy, wasted money, or even to see if it was written clearly so we could all understand it? It was also pointed out to me that AP assigned a team of fact checkers to go through Palin’s book — and I was asked if the AP had done that for the health care bill or even other politicians’ books? I don’t know.
Of course Governor Palin was a public servant (Governor), so she, as a public servant, should be subjected to scrutiny and to the same rules and vigorous scrutiny as other politicians. We need to know about our public servants and all of them. That includes Governor Palin. No one – including Govenor Palin – should get a pass. It makes sense to spend resources to report about her – including reviewing her work – but of course it should be commensurate with how other public servants are reported and commensurate with its importance. It should be good, smart aggressive and thorough journalism – not more, not less. One question you might ask, is she getting about the same treatment as other politicians under about the same circumstances? If not, why not?
If however a news organization is seen as having a bad motive – ie on a mission to destroy someone rather than trying to assemble noteworthy information and report – it is not journalism but something else. Palin should not get “special treatment” or a “media colonoscopy” simply because the media can’t get enough of her …doesn’t like her…or thinks it will spike readership or viewers to cover her. If the foregoing are the reasons for hiring the extra help to go through her emails (the outsourcing) the public is better served by the Post and the Times (and others) using their resources chasing down other stories….for instance pouring over documents showing exactly where the dollars are going that are being spent on defense contractors in Afghanistan.
If there is some reason to believe there is something newsworthy in her emails, the media should go through Governor Palin’s emails. You might think, how do we know until we go through them? That is a very good point…but my guess, and only a guess, is that the outsourcing by the Post and the Times is a tip of what the news editors really think. Why would a news organization not use its own people to go through the emails and instead risk some unknown freelance blogger getting the coveted Pulitzer for finding the prize email?
But let me ask you this, do you think Palin is getting the “media colonoscopy” or is this good investigative journalism?
Go to Greta Wire to answer the question and view the results.