Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Journalistic rot or viciousness?

Michael Barone had a post yesterday which is must reading. Some excerpts:

One thing I would be interested to know is what is going on in Nifong's mind. Is he a cynical and vicious man, or only a stupid and dangerous one? He had an obvious political motive for making his improper statements, conducting a viciously unfair lineup, and bringing charges where none should have been brought.

Of course, one could ask similar questions about Nifong's numerous journalistic cheerleaders, from the Durham Herald-Sun to the New York Times. When the case first became public, they were evidently captivated by the narrative virtuous-black-working-class-woman-abused-by-privileged-rich-white-athletes. But to anyone with an ounce of sense it should have been clear as the facts came out that they didn't fit this narrative. Yet, as KC Johnson shows exhaustively, journalists plowed on. I am reminded of the Hollywood TV detective story scriptwriters, at least in the 1970s when I used to watch these shows. If a businessman was getting a civic award in the first scene, you could be sure he was the murderer–even if you hadn't yet seen the murder. The underdog was always virtuous, the overdog always the villain. Too many journalists covering the Duke case couldn't get out of this "progressive" mind-set–a fine example of one of the many things rotten in the state of journalism today.

Yes, it is but "one of the many things rotten in the state of journalism today."


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