Saturday, April 12, 2008

orange juice journalism

OK. I'm officially confounded.

I have looked it up in several sources, and I have come up with a lot of definitions for the word "journalism." Here are a few:
  • the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business. (
  • writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation (
  • the work of collecting, writing and publishing news stories and articles in newspapers and magazines or broadcasting them on the radio and television (
To me, this sounds like an honorable profession, a noble and worthy thing to aspire to. So why the hell do most of our most well-known "journalists" seem to subscribe to's third definition, which reads as follows:
  • writing that reflects superficial thought and research, a popular slant, and hurried composition, conceived of as exemplifying topical newspaper or popular magazine writing as distinguished from scholarly writing (emphasis mine) ???
I'm not talking about Fox. These are not journalists; they are the semi-official Bush Administration Promotions Department. I'm talking about the rest of the media. On a day when our commander-in-chief acknowledges, after years of outright denial, that he and practically everyone of significance in his administration knew about and signed off on the official use of torture in defiance of the Geneva Convention, not to mention our own Constitution and pretty much everything that the United States of America stands for, the pundits and talking heads of network and cable news spend all of their time worrying about, what?

  • Not our country's diminished moral standing in the world.
  • Not the administration's lies and deceptions, once again acknowledged and once again given a pass.
  • Not the painful realization that we are not living in a nation that always stands up for what is right.
  • Not the absurdity of a President of the United States authorizing torture and then condemning China for human rights abuses.

Nope. The keepers of our national debate are obsessed with what Barack Obama ordered to drink in a small diner at a campaign stop. And they are fixated on whether his recognition of the anger and bitterness in the millions of middle class people who have been embattled by the policies of the last two decades and watched their once reasonably secure lives fall into the toilet connotes a latent elitism and fatal flaw in the Candidate of Hope.

Are these idiots out of their collective minds? Do they HAVE minds to be out of?

Here, courtesy of Media Matters, is a transcript of the Chris Matthews/David Schuster "analysis" of Obama ordering an orange juice:

MATTHEWS: He's [Sen. Barack Obama] not that good at that -- handshaking in a diner.


MATTHEWS: Barack doesn't seem to know how to do that right.

SHUSTER: -- he doesn't do that well. But then you see him in front of 15,000 people in some of these college towns, and that's why, Chris, we've seen Chelsea Clinton and Bill Clinton in Bloomington and South Bend and Terre Haute. I mean --

MATTHEWS: What's so hard about doing a diner? I don't get it. Why doesn't he go in there and say, "Did you see the papers today? What do you think about that team? How did we do last night?" Just some regular connection?

SHUSTER: Well, here's the other thing that we saw on the tape, Chris, is that, when Obama went in, he was offered coffee, and he said, "I'll have orange juice."


SHUSTER: He did.

And it's just one of those sort of weird things. You know, when the owner of the diner says, "Here, have some coffee," you say, "Yes, thank you," and, "Oh, can I also please have some orange juice, in addition to this?" You don't just say, "No, I'll take orange juice," and then turn away and start shaking hands. That's what happens [unintelligible] --

MATTHEWS: You don't ask for a substitute on the menu.

SHUSTER: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: David, what a regular guy. You could do this. Anyway, thank you, David Shuster. I mean, go to the diners.

HUH???? The inanity of this conversation does not even deserve the respect of dignified commentary, so I'm not going to bother. But I have to wonder who makes the decision to pay these guys for their alleged insight into the news, and what I have to do to get that person's attention. I mean I could definitely talk for half an hour about why Obama doesn't wear ties or whether Hillary's pant suits should have been left in the eighties. If that's what it takes to be a "journalist" these days, heck, sign me up!

But what about, I don't know, news? What about a US President officially condoning torture? Is anyone out there? Bueller? Matthews? Russert?

I live in Chicago. With the crappy weather and the loony tunes running the country, moving to an island somewhere is looking better and better all the time...


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it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

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