Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Who Will Be The Next Woodward & Bernstein?

As reporters go, I have three heroes: Tom Junod of Esquire; Jake Tapper, formerly of Salon.com and Frank Rich of the New York Times.

Tom Junod writes with a richness and tone in his feature pieces that I have yet to come close to mimmicking. His appreciation piece about Mister Roger's ranks as one of the greatest articles in the venerable magazine's history.

Of course, I will never forget reading Jake Tapper's daily articles for Salon.com during the 2000 election. I have yet to read a reporter who is so adept at keeping the reader as riveted as Tapper's writing did for me four years ago. Why Jake are you wasting your talents at ABC News? You've went from writing beautiful prose to being their fact-checker during the past debates.

And now, The New York Times' Frank Rich has become my idol. Every Sunday, he cranks out informative columns teeming with such intensity and purpose, yet comes across honest and most notably thorough in his arguments. His view of our country is so clear and unfilitered that it almost seems false when matched against all the disinformation cable television and the corporate-owned networks spew.

Last Sunday's article titled, "Will We Need a New 'All the President's Men'?" [section2, p. 1] again captured all that is wrong with our current adminstration in Washington and their war against the media and placed it square against Nixon and the Watergate scandal.

Will this article be particularly prescient in the coming year? Rich writes:

"Our current presidency is now showing symptoms of a precancerous Watergate syndrome--as it is, daily--we have not yet reached that denouement immortalized by Hollywood, in which our scrappy heroes finally bring Nixon to heel in his second term. No we're back instead in the earlier reels of his first term, before the criminality of the Watergate break-in, when no one had heard of Woodward and Bernstein."

Rich goes on to compare the eerily similar situations of Nixon's Vietnam and Bush's Iraq:

Back then an arrogant and secretive White House, furious at the bad press fueled by an unpopular and mismanaged war, was still flying high as it kneecapped with impunity any reporter or news organizatioon that challenged its tightly enforced message of victory at hand."

What Frank Rich seems to do each week is to force out questions don't seem to be a part of the article but seemingly pop into your head. It's scary that the Bush adminstration has lifted so many tactics from Richard Nixon against the press. The question is: Who will be the next Woodward and Bernstein?

The media landscape in the early 70s was much different than it is today. Back in Nixon's era, just three network news divisions ruled television. It's debatable whether they had much autonomy in their reporting, but be assured none resembled anything close to today's Fox News. Newspapers back then were free of any media consolidation and thus more independent in their reporting.

It is safe to say that the next Woodward and Bernstein will not emerge from the current media conglomerates. Nowadays, independent news and thinking rules the internet. The internet will be the source of these stories of corruption and treason. These exposes will not arise from bloggers or amateurs on the net, though, but from an online 'zines such as Salon.com.

The problem is will a site like Salon.com be able to crack the headlines of corporate owned newspapers and TV network?

In March of this year, Salon.com reported with little fanfare, a scandal at an Iraqi prison named Abu Ghraib where American soldiers were rumored to be torturing Iraqi inmates. Readers of Salon.com waited nearly a month and a half to hear anything about this story on the national scene. It wasn't until 60 Minutes II had pictures that anyone took noticed.

Be careful of the media. They are not telling you everything you need to know. It's not hidden; keep looking for it.

4 comments:

Deessekadian said...

This is a great blog...mostly how it inspired me to look into what you referenced. I brushed up on the whole Watergate/Woodward & Bernstein story and read into thoughts of those who believe that there will be an uncovering of scandals of the current presidency to come. I agree with the fact that there is information out there far more truthful and unbiased than what we see on TV and in the newspaper. The mainstream American media is mostly crap. Extra, extra, read all about it: Fear everything, question nothing! But, the most valuable bit of info I got here today is the article(s) Tom Junod wrote of Fred Rogers. Wonderful, lovely, thank you very much! 143, Kerri

pryncess711 said...

You've always had an eye for journalism.. which dates back to Chabot.. when are you going to purse that dream anyway? your not getting any "younger"!... And you always have something to comment about the world through the media which you read. I bet you got it from the 4 newspapers you read everyday.. (right Milton?!!!) :)

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree. Stop denigrating the educational system and claiming that it's beneath you and thus, you'll be bored by it. Just do it and actually make a difference that will have an impact on society! Become a teacher!! From a fellow teacher, you could be doing so much more. You really have an ingenius perspective. But I'm not one to gossip. Best of luck in your life. Carpe diem!

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