Ed Driscoll

Kick 'Em When They're Down

Dan Riehl notes, “Leave it to a real journalist to go over the top”:

So much for bloggers stalking people in the news. Leave it to a real journalist to go over the top. Police say there was no crime comitted by him. He’s a senior citizen, a veteran, and ultimately he’s reduced to tears by a reporter following up on a story after his business was broken into twice in three weeks.

Make sure you’ve taken your high blood pressure medication before clicking on the above YouTube clip. One upside though: I’d like to think that the Dallas-area TV station is about get lots of angry email in response to Rebecca Aguilar, their icy interrogator. As Glenn Reynolds writes:

I was struck by reporter Rebecca Aguilar’s body-language, literally standing over him in judgment. The way she looked down, literally and figuratively, on an old man who had defended his life, entirely legally, and reduced him to tears seems to me to be representative of the worst stereotypes of Old Media. Then, when she belatedly realizes that she’s coming across like a bully — because, you know, she is — she retreats into faux-sympathy and the laughable claim that she’s just helping him get his side of the story out. It’s like something out of a local-tv parody on The Simpsons.

Aguilar’s bio ends with this passage:

I’ve been a television reporter for more than two decades. And even though I have won several awards (including several Emmys and 2005 Texas A.P. Reporter of the year), nothing is more rewarding than someone who says I made their lives a little better cause I listened and told “their story”.

And if I get them to cry on camera, so much the better, as far as the boys at AP are concerned.

Update: One of Dan’s commenter points to this item, which notes that “KDFW Suspends Rebecca Aguilar After Controversial ‘Ambush'”. I’m glad to see the station acted, and quickly.

Related: “Who says journalists must be jerks?”, Steve Boriss asks; he posits that such boorish behavior is not part of The Future of News:

The silly idea that reporters must be rude and curmudgeonly is a recent development, and one that could only survive in a non-competitive news environment. One non-believer is Fox News guru Roger Ailes, who recommends a book by James Fallows that gets to the root of this �attitude journalism.� Fallows says that �real investigative zeal has been replaced by a kind of lazy attitudinizing� � for example, asking high-ranking officials questions �in a snarling and hostile sounding and suspicious sounding way, that makes you seem tough.� Is this really the best way to get revelations from uncomfortable interviewees? Is this really the best way to draw adoring audiences? To believe that, you�d almost need to have attended journalism school.

Exit question: Isn’t this yet another textbook demonstration of America’s ongoing “Cold Civil War?”

Update (5/17/08): Video of Rebecca Aguilar’s now infamous segment seems to come and go on YouTube, but it’s the centerpiece of a recent edition of our Silicon Graffiti video podcast, and you can watch it in its entirety, about two minutes and 40 seconds in:

Update (12/31/08): We recently had our own experience with the above video coming and going–and coming back again–on YouTube, which you can read about here.