Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Journalists Shouldn't be Cheerleaders

Click here for AmazonI know who I would pick to win a fight between a young Mailer, pictured at left, and a young Rumsfeld, below.

Hat tip: LGF...

Click here for AmazonIt’s hardly a shocker that Norman Mailer could show up at a place like Cambridge, Mass., and win big applause with a speech attacking President Bush. After all, employees of Harvard University gave more money to John Kerry’s presidential campaign than people who work anywhere else (except the University of California). What made the standing ovation for the novelist so disappointing, though, was that it came from a great big pack of journalists.

Claims of media bias were a major theme during this past election year - from Dan Rather’s doctored documents questioning Bush’s military service to a convention of minority journalists loudly cheering Kerry when he addressed them in August. But conservatives who want proof of their longstanding claims that the mainstream media harbor a liberal bias could do worse than ordering the audio recordings of the Cambridge conference that are on sale from its sponsor, Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism.

They would hear laughter and applause from reporters after Mailer said he wished he "was young enough to thrash" Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and scattered applause when he claimed that it was not Jesus but "the devil who speaks to George Bush every night."

Admittedly, some of the attendees were academics, publicists and students, so it’s hard to say who was laughing at which remark. But the thousand-member audience was dominated by freelance writers and editors and reporters from nearly every major paper in the country. None of the dozen people who stood up to question Mailer challenged any of his political assertions. And only a few failed to stand and applaud at the end of a speech that had characterized Bush as “lord of the quagmire” in Iraq.

"I’m a newspaperman - these people don’t seem to understand what their role in society is," said Jack Hart, managing editor of the Portland Oregonian, which cosponsored the conference along with the Boston Globe and the Poynter Institute (which owns the St. Petersburg Times and Governing magazine, where I work). "It makes me very uncomfortable."

Journalists Shouldn't be Cheerleaders

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