I know that there are a few professional journalists out there who occasionally stop by this blog in search of getting a feel for
Shakira’s ass the national zeitgeist as well as to live vicariously through someone who can use the words “fuck”, “boner” and “twatwaffle” with gleeful abandon. You guys are welcome. But with the whole OWS thing going on, I’m afraid many of you underpaid pixel-stained wretches are entering into uncharted territory where your deeply held feelings about, say, how you would react to news that the barely recognizable body of some random Wall Street hedge fund CEO had been found in a dumpster in the Bronx. Like me, you would probably be horrified while at the same time strangely aroused. I’d like to think those two reactions would kind of cancel each other out and strict neutrality would rule the day …. even if there was a four hour delay while waiting that boner to subside.
With this in mind, here is A Journamalism Guide To Covering Occupy Wall Street that is so simple that even Andrew Brietbart’s “citizen journalists” could understand it provided, of course, it was made available in pop-up book format or as part of an exercise involving a “bad-touch” doll (Jim Hoft only).
If you attend a march holding up a sign that 99% of Americans would find unobjectionable (I’ll leave it to you to figure out who the 1% who would beg to differ are. Go on. Guess…):
You will be fired.
The next day, The Takeaway’s general manager fired me over the phone, effective immediately. He was inconsolably angry, and said that I had violated every ethic of journalism, and that this should be a “teaching moment” for me in my career as a journalist. The segment I had pitched, of course, would not happen. Ironically, the following day Marketplace did pretty much the exact segment I thought would have been great on The Takeaway, with Kai Ryssdal discussing the sign and the Goldman Sachs deal it alluded to in terms that were far from neutral.
(By the way, The Takeway advertises itself as “Welcome To The American Conversation” so maybe it’s just one of those shows with an ironic title like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia that are all the rage with kids these days)
But getting back to the subject at hand…. the same fate awaits you, journalist person, if you speak for #OWS while hosting a completely apolitical opera show on the radio because that is how Che got his start after putting in years on the drive-time Morning Zoo with Lenin & Marx show. If you are lucky and only answer some questions as part of a panel about #OWS, you get to keep your job with the bonus of having your workload reduced. Now you are even more a part of the 99%. Happy now, commie?
But if you are a journalist for CNN (which means Cable News Network.Who knew?) and you formerly worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup and, coincidentally you’re currently blowing an executive at Citigroup, you can file a report like this.
As Glenn Greenwald pointed out:
On her new CNN show on Monday night, host Erin Burnett was joined by Rudy Giuliani’s former speechwriter John Avlon and together they heaped condescending scorn on the Wall Street protests while defending the banking industry, offering — as FAIR documented — several misleading statements along the way. Burnett “reported” that while she “saw dancing, bongo drums, even a clown” at the protest, the participants “did not know what they want,” except that “it seems like people want a messiah leader, just like they did when they anointed Barack Obama.” She featured a video clip of herself explaining to one of the protesters that the U.S. Government made money from TARP, and then demanded to know if that changed his negative views of Wall Street.
This is far from the first time Burnett has served as spokesperson for Wall Street; it’s basically what her “journalistic” career is. She angered Bill Maher a couple years ago when arguing that the rich have suffered along with the poor and middle class as part of the financial crisis, and that it would be wrong to “soak the rich” because they’re already paying so much taxes. She caused Rush Limbaugh to gush over her when she argued on TV in 2007 that all Americans benefit when the rich get richer: “the majority of Americans directly benefit from what happens on Wall Street,” she proclaimed, just over a year before the financial collapse.
In an interview last year with Vanity Fair, she insisted that people on Wall Street do not have private planes and that “there are a lot of stalwart, solid people on Wall Street. There are just a few shady people providing the fodder for big budget movies”; when asked: “When was the last time you interviewed somebody on Wall Street and said, ‘Enough of your lies, we deserve the truth goddammit?!’”, she would only say in response: “I’d never use the word ‘goddammit’ in an interview.”
And that is why she hosts her very own show.
Now I know this is confusing and there really no bright line of demarcation of what is right and what is journalistically acceptable so you might want to write this simple maxim down (or possibly cut and paste it somewhere if you have a computer machine) and refer to it in moments of doubt. Ready? Okay.
It’s not who you know, it’s who you blow.
Yeah. You probably already knew that, but times have changed and now it is also possible to blow a corporation because corporations are people too. In fact, it’s the law. At least the “corporations are people part” is. The blowing is not mandated. Yet.