The terrific David Warren on the “herd of independent thinkers”:
…Do journalists collude with one another on how to “spin” stories? On developing “talking points,” just like politicians? On which red herrings can be purposely thrown in, to mislead and distract readers from the truth? On how to hide hard but inconvenient facts? On how to help their friends, hurt their enemies, and generally, stage-manage the presentation of the news to advance a common political agenda?
I would say, no, they don’t have to. These are all things they (er, “we”) can do instinctively, without any need of formal co-ordination. All that is required is a profession whose practitioners form a self-recognizing class; who share a settled (and rather conformist) view of the world; and who spend most of their lives in each other’s company, hardly ever meeting, let alone mixing socially with, people of other classes with other points of view.
No, I have instead always cited a little ditty on this subject, ascribed to Humbert Wolfe, and various others who flourished in the 1920s: “You cannot hope to bribe or twist / The honest English journalist; / But seeing what the man will do, / Unbribed, there is no reason to.”
I still hold by this position, and will, no matter how much is leaked from the e-mail exchanges of the 400-or-so prominent liberal journalists and “experts” who linked themselves together by e-mail on JournoList — which was supposed to be private, and thus, secret…
The controversy is much like that surrounding the environmental movement, since the e-mail archive of the Climate Research Unit in England was hacked, and electronic swathes spewed gratuitously around the Internet. Those who never suspected the world’s leading “global warming” researchers of honesty or candour could hardly have been shocked by what they read. But those who believed them to be “detached” and “disinterested” scientists were in for a few surprises.
The juicy bits from the JournoList archive, exhumed and disseminated through the (conservative) Daily Caller website, show leading mainstream U.S. journalists discussing things like how to trash and smear Sarah Palin most effectively, in the moments after John McCain selected her as his running mate. Or, how to distract America from the scandal of Barack Obama’s long and intimate affiliation with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, when that story hit the fan.
It is interesting that the major themes of mainstream journalistic reporting exactly repeated those thrashed out on JournoList, beforehand — where it was taken for granted that the journalists’ purpose was to get Obama elected, by performing services as an informal “detachment” of the Obama campaign. It looks for all the world like a carefully-organized conspiracy.
And yet it isn’t. As Joe Klein, of Time magazine — prominent both as journalist and on JournoList — hath protested, he didn’t need any strategy sessions in e-mail to decide how to attack Palin; he could “easily” have selected all the angles, by himself. And I do not doubt for a moment that he is telling the truth.
It was his word “easily” that I found most significant. I could myself, in advance, “easily” have guessed from which angles Joe Klein would attack Sarah Palin, and will, as he promises, continue to attack her. The dogs in Pavlov’s experiment did not “conspire” to salivate…
And Michael Ramirez: