By now many of you have heard that Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher is leaving for Israel tomorrow to be a war correspondent for Pajamas TV. This has created quite a brouhaha in the media – cable television, newspapers, wire services, etc. Everyone from CNN to gawker.com has something to say about Joe heading for the Middle East. He will appear on Fox and Friends tomorrow morning before his departure.
To be honest, some (maybe much) of this reportage is pretty snotty. Nora O’Donnell of MSNBC – herself a MA in international relations, lahdeedah – fairly frothed at the mouth at the prospect of the unqualified Joe having the temerity to report news in a foreign land. Those hipoisie over at Gawker weren’t too charitable either.
Evidently, a lot of people are annoyed that Joe’s fifteen Warhol minutes aren’t quite over yet. Or perhaps they’re threatened that a common man can be a reporter simply by asking common sense questions – no Columbia J-school degree required. (Hemingway didn’t have one. He didn’t even go to college, as I recall.) But the larger question is the role of expertise in general. Of course, experts are valuable, but so are those who ask the seemingly too obvious questions of the supposedly uninformed – dumb questions that can end up having more value for the public than all the experts combined. Sometimes, anyway.
In any case, Joe will be appearing on PJTV Thursday for an interview before leaving and then on to Israel where he will meet up with our Richard Landes and Danny Seaman, Israel’s GPO (Government Press Office) director. He will have a local camera crew with him and decide for himself where he wants to go – but some destinations under discussion are the West Bank, Bethlehem (to investigate the conditions of Christians there), Southern Israel where the missiles are falling and, of course, as close as he can get to the Gaza border. I must say I find amusing the idea of Joe lined up with all the telephoto cameras at that Gaza media overlook with Cooper, Amanpour, et al. It’s certainly the stuff of Frank Capra.