June 23, 2004

Money For Gossip

This was Dan Rather talking to Larry King last Friday about his Clinton interview:

KING: Were aspects of it awkward? Was it awkward to ask the former president about Paula Jones?

RATHER: Yes, it was, Larry. I was not comfortable with any of those kinds of questions, and I found myself going into the interview and doing the interview, saying, I wish I didn't have to do this. But you know, I'm a professional. I had a reporter's job to do. My job was to draw him out on what he'd written about in the book, and he'd written about all of these things in the book. ...

From Monday's Inside Politics with Judy Woodruff, emphasis added:

BROWNSTEIN: Probably at the margin only. But from the "60 Minutes" interview -- and I have not read the book, like the vast majority of Americans -- the "60 Minutes" interview, if that's going to be the tone of the coverage, it's hard to believe it will be good for Democrats. The first sentence out of Bill Clinton's mouth was that the economy was the thing he was the most proud of. That's what Democrats wanted to talk about. I don't think it came up again for the next 59 minutes.

The whole rest of it was about his moral lapses, impeachment, his feelings about Ken Starr, and his personal growth. These are not the subjects that Democrats really want voters, I think, to be reminded of. I think they would rather talk about the 23 million jobs, the big decline, and poverty, the budget surpluses. ...

WOODRUFF: I was just going to say we know that those are the kinds of questions, however, that reporters tend to want to ask about.

BROWNSTEIN: Good politicians get their message across no matter what they're asked. It's not clear that he really did that last night.

WOODRUFF: Good point. ...

What these great political analysts are clearly trying to tell their viewers, in case we missed that day in Lazy Media Bastards 101, is this:

It is not the responsibility of journalists to ask serious, policy oriented questions, but rather to exercise their ability to be powerful gossips. And they take that the responsibility to gossip very seriously, because it's how they'll be judged by their peers. It is the responsibility of any politician who wishes to talk about policy issues to weigh carefully whether they would better like to be accused of being rigid and evasive, or of being messageless.

And it is apparently the responsibility of citizens who would like to be informed about important issues to not hold their breath waiting to hear about them from these talking heads.

Posted by natasha at June 23, 2004 09:25 AM | Media | Technorati links |

Did I miss something? Is Clinton running for president? Oh... he's only pitching a book, you say? Then how could his sex life, about which there's nothing new under the sun, have any real impact on current Democratic candidates? Yes, in the minds of the incurious and uninvolved, there probably is a connection. But will the interview actually turn any votes? I doubt it. Anyone who loathes Clinton isn't likely to vote for Kerry in any event, whether or not they saw the interview.

As to the questions broadcast journalists ask... and I use the word "journalists" with reservations... I've long since given up on them. When these overpaid celebrities are not, as you point out, paid to gossip, they are paid to make stuff up. How the flighty have fallen...

Posted by: Steve Bates at June 23, 2004 04:46 PM