Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tribal Journalism

Journalism continues its tribal policies even after the elections. The journalists take sides, and then conduct interviews in accordance with tribal loyalties. If the interviewee in on the same side as the journalist it is like a polite dance, otherwise it is a contest to determine who will emerge alive.

For instance Rachel Maddow has gained a reputation as the new great bastion of liberal journalism on cable news. This is the lady that who is going to bring talk radio to the teevee, striking terror into the hearts of the evasive politician. Well, maybe not to evasive Democrats.

She had a discussion on Afghanistan policy with Claire McCaskill yesterday, a discussion which I watched but for which no clip appears on her MSNBC website. McCaskill (D, Missouri) listens politely to each question, and then talks at length without even coming close to answering the question asked. Rachel Maddow at no point calls her for being evasive.

For instance Maddow asks whether we are going to engage in counter-terrorism or counter-insurgency in Afghanistan and McCaskill makes a lengthy speech about how we’d better not start rebuilding that country because the last time we did that was in Iraq and we wasted a lot of money.

In addition to not answering the question asked by Rachel Maddow, that answer is wrong on another level, namely that rebuilding the country is precisely what we should be doing and are not, but Maddow merely thanks her and concludes the interview.

Hardly the “ruthless journalist” that her reputation promotes. For Republicans and other conservatives Maddow is all teeth and claws, for Democrats and other liberals, well…

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