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July 18, 2009

"Meet The Press allows you to frame the conversation as you really want to."

NBC's David Gregory tried to entice disgraced South Carolina governor Mark Sanford onto Meet The Press by promising a friendly hearing. Gregory subscribes to the Burger King model of journalism: Have it Your Way.

"Meet The Press allows you to frame the conversation as you really want to," Gregory assured Sanford's press secretary by email. Unfortunately for Gregory, that email found its way into the hands of a South Carolina paper that published it online.

The press secretary abruptly resigned after the letter came to light, but Gregory still has a job. I don't see why the press secretary should resign, it's his job to subvert journalistic integrity to assure favorable, preferably sycophantic, coverage for his boss. It's Gregory who should step down over this.


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These e-mails to Sanford's office have really confirmed our worst suspicions about the Washington press corps elite, haven't they?

I don't think Mark Sanford's press secretary resigned because he got a letter from David Gregory.

He was probably just tired of defending Mark Sanford in general.

You may be right. Sanford treated his staff really badly, disappearing like that.

Would the late Walter Cronkite have done this?

Gregory is not fit to scrub Cronkite's bathroom tile.

Gregory's just doing his job--catapulting the propaganda for the corporations and the people who help keep them fat and happy (on our blood and work). He's basically admitted that finding and telling the truth isn't part of his job description. Sanford and Gregory work for the same people, so Gregory's upsucking is understandable.
Also: Lindsay Beyerstein, you're beautiful. Looking at your photo always makes me happy.

"I think there are a lot of critics who think that . . . . if we did not stand up and say this is bogus, and you're a liar, and why are you doing this, that we didn't do our job. I respectfully disagree. It's not our role." - David Gregory, in his own words.

When media figures promise friendly coverage, do they deliver? I can definitely see NBC promise to be friendly, but then have Brokaw ask difficult questions regardless.

I miss Tim Russert more and more every day. I pretty much stopped watching Meet the Press after he died.

Does anyone know if this sort of thing is the policy of the shows' management or just Gregory's? Did Tim Russert do the same thing?

Did Tim Russet do the same thing? I bet Lewis Lapham thinks so: “Tim Russert was a spokesman for power, wealth, and privilege,” Lapham said. “That’s why 1,000 people came to his memorial service. Because essentially he was a shill for the government. It didn’t matter whether it was Democratic or Republican. It was for the status quo.” What about Russert’s rep for catching pols in lies? “That was bullshit,” he said.

I think Lapham nailed pretty well how Russert managed to provide the kind of coverage Gregory promised and still maintain a reputation as a real journalist: To an important personage Russert asked one or two faintly impertinent questions, usually about a subject of little or no concern to anybody outside the rope lines around official Washington; sometimes he discovered a contradiction between a recently issued press release and one that was distributed by the same politician some months or years previously. No matter with which spoon Russert stirred the butter, the reply was of no interest to him, not worth his notice or further comment. He had sprinkled his trademark salt, his work was done. The important personage was free to choose from a menu offering three forms of response—silence, spin, rancid lie. If silence, Russert moved on to another topic; if spin, he nodded wisely; if rancid lie, he swallowed it.

Really ... anyone watching NBC? I haven't watched NBC, CBS for years and since last fall ABC is also on my "no watch" list.

I can't help but think what a huge disparity there must be between how journalism is taught, and how it is practiced. Does any journalism professor teach this method of securing access? Or do they teach how to make a lobbyists talking points appear to represent the full range of debate on a topic?
98% of political journalism seems to be about obfuscating the truth and passing along spin. Is there a class in Journalism school covering this?
Then again, with the NPR's ombudsman teaching a media ethics course while justifying the fact NPR won't use the word torture to describe torture, perhaps I'm just naive and Journalism is taught in the same cynical, duplicitous way it is practiced.

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