The Decline and Fall of Heroic Journalism

Charlie Pierce is saying what absolutely has to be said here.

I spent 1978 at BU’s Graduate School of Journalism. A lot of the program was what we would now call “networking” — making sure you had the basics down and getting set up for a job. The stupidest remarks I heard all year were from these two guys “joking” about becoming the next Woodward and Bernstein — because on some level they were dead serious. “Well, sure won’t be you two clowns,” I thought. They were poor researchers and writers. What disturbed me then, and even more in retrospect, is how widespread was the shallowest TV-movie version of the Watergate exposure. It was an adventure. There were few serious barriers or setbacks.

Of course this was false. Ridiculous, even. But far more toxic was the evil flip side of this myth. That instead of a triumph for truth, Watergate was a disaster that must never be allowed to happen again. And all that rested on the foundation that of course nobody as twisted and unfit as Nixon would ever be elected President. That’s why kids should have been taught more about Warren Harding.

Charlie is certainly right about the freakish increase in POTUS power. I hold on to the slim hope that he’s also correct enough sinking ships will desert the rat that he will be out of office. Journalists who insist on telling the cold truth rather than offering soft whimpers would help.

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