July 22, 2021

MARK JUDGE IS ANSWERING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: What Journalists Can Learn from The Night Stalker.

Carl Kolchak might seem crazy, but as Lucas observes in the audio commentary, “pause to consider what historians now tell us about what was really going on between the White House and journalists at this particular time.” It was a paranoid time in the United States, but people were afraid for good reason. Lucas cites Poisoning the Press, Mark Feldstein’s book about Richard Nixon and the media. Nixon planted stories and letters in the press to try and undermine the reporting of Jack Anderson. The President even considered plans to poison Anderson. “Ratf**king,” the precursor to today’s opposition research, was destroying lives.

America in the early-1970s was the time of Vietnam, Watergate and Robert Altman’s Nashville. Like Nashville, The Night Stalker is both “anti-establishment and pro American Dream.” It fits into the “shadow cinema” of the 1970s, movies that were countercultural while also celebrating the values of more traditional and patriotic Middle America. Authority everywhere was eroding, but people still loved the country.

Kolchak is a perfect character to represent both sides. As Tim Lucas notes, the reporter “appeals to both sides of what was then called the generation gap.” In Kolchak, “there is something of the countercultural reporter. He’s not just filing his stories, he’s finding the stories of coverups approved by the local police and government.”

Yet Kolchak also has a conservative cynicism: “He’s not just doing this to tell the truth, he’s doing this for reasons of self-interest.” Like Glenn Greenwald or Tucker Carlson, Kolchak has been fired from several places, “all presumably for trying to get the truth past his editors.” Kolchak, who is “hell bent on getting the last laugh and coming back in style,” is “a charismatic grab bag full of contradictions, panache, [and] bad taste.” He doesn’t like authority but has “an all-American love for the goddam capital-T Truth.”

Read the whole thing.

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