MAYBE those of us who write about politics and campaigns should adopt a bristly uniform of hair shirts, so that we’re constantly atoning for our sins. Maybe we should wear targets, the better for our critics to take aim at us.
Oh, how we’re hated. And as another presidential race takes shape, that hatred gathers force. Hillary Clinton’s protectors cast us as bloodthirsty raptors intent on finding flaw where none exists. Chris Christie was asked what he’d given up for Lent and said that it would have been The New York Times, but then his priest told him he had to forswear something he’d truly miss.
Scott Walker thinks we’re laying an elaborate trap for him, and after The Washington Post inquired if he regarded President Obama as Christian, he not only punted but also bellowed about “gotcha” questions, griping: “This is a classic example of why people hate Washington and, increasingly, they dislike the press.”
Dislike? Increasingly? Either he was being charitable or he hasn’t read the polling. The public’s esteem for us has been abysmal for a good long while.
Don’t get too excited, though. As I wrote on Twitter: “One of those bait and switch pieces that begins as a mea culpa and turns into a tu quoque. Hackwork.” Bruni’s prescriptions for the media include not hyping New Hampshire and Iowa (duh, but never happen), “go easy on the spouses” (tell that to Sarah Palin and her family), stop hyping non-starting fringe freak-show candidates like Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann (here we agree), etc. Then he tells us what’s right with the media, which basically negates everything he just said. Here’s a better list of what’s wrong with the media:
- It’s one giant club. Trust me on this, as I was part of it for 25 years. They all went to the same schools, studied the same subjects, live in the same neighborhoods in Manhattan and Washington, D.C. Not only do they not know you, they don’t know anybody who knows you.
- Incest is best. The big-time media pool is rather shallow. On the road, they have affairs with each other. At home, they marry each other. It’s nearly inconceivable that they marry outside the circle. And then they raise their kids to be journalists, too.
- They’re all in bed with the Obama administration. From the Rhodes brothers to Jay Carney and Claire Shipman, to Rick Stengel, the super-cozy relationship between reporters and administration officials — born of their shared devotion to the Democrat Party — just comes naturally.
- They don’t know anything about anything, except “journalism.” Imagine a press run entirely by liberal-arts majors: this is contemporary American journalism. And they have degrees in journalism to prove it! On the several occasions when I have been invited to throw my hat into the ring and take over a major J-school, I always write back that I could change the curriculum to de-emphasize journalism courses and add a heavy concentration of literature, writing, languages (indispensable) and even firearms training, so they would know what the hell they’re talking about when they cover Second Amendment issues. Needless to say, that is the last I ever hear from them.
- They are intellectually incurious. Try to talk to a national political reporter about anything except national politics and maybe, just maybe, baseball. You will get a blank stare.
- They don’t understand people, for whom they mostly have contempt. When you live in the Bos-Wash corridor, everything else is flyover country, including California. It’s populated by “the other” — Christians, gun nuts, hillbillies who didn’t go to Harvard. Big-time journalists approach such people like anthropologists doing field work — and then they make fun of them. And by “them,” I mean “you.”
- They’re mostly irreligious or atheists. And the rest of us are not. So good for Ana Marie Cox for her brave — yes, brave — piece in the Daily Beast the other day. If you haven’t read it yet, drop whatever you’re doing and then comment below.