November 29, 2021

IS REHAB EVEN AN OPTION? Mark Judge: The Media Have Turned Into Bottomed-Out Drunks.

The implosion of the press over the last several years has been the final act in a story that resembles the stories that recovering addicts tell. . . .

For most of the 20th century, the press was liberal but also skillful and responsible. Communists like Walter Duranty balanced out by better reporters like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Lippmann. Mistakes were made, but there was a code of honor, a core integrity that made it necessary to issue corrections and make every effort to represent people accurately and humanely.

Then came the first drink — Watergate. The 1970s scandal that drove Richard Nixon from office was a great party. The atmosphere in the media and on the left was glamorous, filling writers with a sense of intoxicated invincibility. Read Batya Ungar-Sargon’s new book Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy. She recounts how journalists went from working-class Joes who covered foreign wars or boxing bouts to elites who attended the Ivy League and congregated at cocktail parties in Georgetown and Manhattan. Being a journalist was suddenly sexy.

For the past 50 years, the press has been trying to replicate the buzz from Watergate. Journalism is no longer a way to convey news from your community to the masses. It’s a means to destroy someone powerful and become a celebrity. Just as an alcoholic will start to cut ethical corners and need more and more booze for less and less effect, reporters post-Watergate became sloppy and even disinterested in facts. There was Stephen Glass, the UVA rape hoax, and New York Times fantasist Jayson Blair. Mistakes and lies became more and more common.

For the media, the arrival of Donald Trump represented the mad final lap in end-stage addiction. That’s where the drug has completely taken over the user’s body and soul. The moments of bliss are harder and harder to capture despite the oceans of booze put to the task. Still, there is no stopping now. Just the idea of impeachment or removal from office was enough to blow through any and all guardrails, like presenting a boozehound a glittering bottle of Johnny Walker Blue. . . .

The Russia dossier, a sordid collection of lies about the president that was created by Hillary Clinton and her bootleggers, was pure backwoods grain alcohol. The kind of stuff that could make you go blind. It didn’t matter. To reporters there was still that sweet, distant memory of Watergate. That first high which cracked open the sky five decades ago. Like Gatsby gazing at the distant green light across the river, there had to be a way to recapture that magic.

Indeed. Of course, even the Watergate reporting is looking kind of dodgy now.

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