Bar Rooms

News Munchies

Report the News, Dammit!

By® Staff

Originally Posted

Lauren Ashburn believes the world -- at least the part of it she covers -- should organize itself for her personal convenience.

Take, for instance, the national political conventions. On today's "Reliable Sources" on CNN, the founder of posed a rhetorical question to host Howard Kurtz: "Can't we just shrink it to maybe two days, total?"

Well, sure, Lauren, if you have someplace more important to be.

We'd guess you'd find it demeaning, if you actually had to go to the trouble to search out news or develop stories through what used to be called "enterprise reporting."

Although, now that we think about it, you are covering two events attended by most of the leading political figures in America.

But we understand that it would be easier if everyone arranged their schedules -- even their conventions -- for your convenience, rather than for their own, apparently less-important, purposes. After all, it's all about the reporters, not the news.

It's such a shame when reporters like Lauren and her ink- and electron-stained colleagues are forced to actually engage their brains and try to come up with responsible or creative ways of gaining insight from our political leaders, and from the perhaps-even-more-interesting convention hangers-on.

Which face?

Television panel hosts like Kurtz may have brightly lit dressing-room mirrors, but they are unable to see both of their own faces when they are on the air.

Invited guests to such television panel shows -- journalists, spokespeople, other newsmakers -- are briefed on the show's or segment's focus; they know they likely won't be asked to stray beyond the topic they've agreed to discuss.

But then news anchors and reporters become exercised when political or entertainment or business interview subjects request that questions be limited to certain topics. The nerve! Trying to control the focus of the interview!

Does the analogy of goose/gander come to mind?

With all the demands the media make of the Presidential candidates and what the Fourth Estate has determined that the candidates should talk about or answer, has it ever occurred to them that maybe, just maybe, the campaigns have their own agenda? It's possible the campaigns' strategies and approaches and timing are different from what Laura and her colleagues would impose on them.

How important is it to bow to what the media want, rather than sticking with what the campaign or the candidate wants?

Well, not all reporters take the Lauren Ashburn approach.

Make it interesting?

"It's not for the press to prescribe what this guy has to do," Christina Bellantoni of PBS Newshour told Kurtz.

"What we're supposed to do is not 'make this interesting.' I think we're supposed to report what we see, and try and be fair in the context in which we put it," added David Drucker of Roll Call.

Of course, that doesn't mean ignoring obvious misstatements. But there is a balance between simply probing or questioning a response and being aggressively rude.

On last week's "Reliable Sources" broadcast, CNN's Wolf Blitzer told Kurtz, "If you hear something that clearly is wrong, or a distortion, you challenge the guest."

"If I hear a guest," Blitzer continued, "and I'm going to be polite to the guest, and respectful -- but if I hear a guest just dissemble and make stuff up and really say something that's wrong, I think we should at least point that out to our viewers and let them know that I'm not dumb enough to just go along with it or whatever; and I'm going to point that out."

We're confident that Chris Matthews or Sean Hannity would take the same genteel approach.


Join The Discussion

We will never post your email address publicly; it's used solely as part of our verification process to keep the spammers under control. After submitting your comment or question, you'll receive an email confirmation message with a link back to® that you'll need to click before your post appears for others to see. By submitting this post you agree to the Terms Of Service.