And it passes for journalism

Joan Walsh at Salon is a smart columnist.  Smart, versed in the events of the day, knows her history and – a good writer!

My eleven readers know one of my constant themes is media failures – how they trivialize, how they ignore important issues, how they constantly miss the point – in other words, what a really bad job they do. Walsh touches on that subject often and I try to keep up with relevant posts, but I missed this January post about the (now best selling) book Game Change (co-authored by one of the most smug and careless stars of the Washington Press corps).

” . . . my discomfort with the book’s mostly anonymous sourcing – there is no index or source notes – as well as its strange practice of “quoting” inflammatory statements in mere sentence fragments, without full context, and Heilemann and Halperin’s Bob Woodward-like zest for recreating thoughts and conversations they couldn’t have been a party to. (I particularly enjoyed the opening scene, set in Obama’s room at a Des Moines Hampton Inn just before the Iowa caucuses, when the candidate woke up anxious in the middle of the night, feeling like “the dog that caught the bus.” Were they there? Now that’s a story!)

. . .

At a time when we’re fighting at least two wars, enduring double-digit unemployment, a controversial health care reform bill may or may not become law, and Haiti just had a devastating earthquake, how could we possibly be talking, nearly 24/7, about a gossipy book that reveals nothing serious about policy, hidden deals, corruption or conflicts of interest along the 2008 campaign trail? And if we must dissect such gossipy revelations, on the grounds that they tell us something about our leadership class, how can we do so without constantly noting that the book’s sourcing is stunningly opaque – about a topic on which all sources had a skewed, self-interested take on the “history” they recount?”

I can’t recall a single political book that received as much media attention. The book is apparently a titillating read (Kitty Kelly does a more professional job) so that was enough to put the authors on teevee non stop for 45 days.


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