distinction between disinterested reporting and hit-jobbery.”
In a special report on the media, “The Story Behind the Story,” (Atlantic, Oct. 2009), Mark Bowden points to a malignancy that’s driving the state of journalism down – hit-jobbery.
“Ideologues have stepped forward to provide the ‘reporting’ that feeds the 24-hour news cycle. The collapse of journalism means that the quest for information have been superseded by the quest for ammunition,” he says.
As ammunition he cites events surrounding the confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor where hit-jobbers, "researchers" with an agenda, dug up snippets from a speech Sotomayor had made at Berkeley Law School in 2001.
The clips, taken out of context, portrayed her as a Latina who thought her judgment was superior to that of a white male and as a judge who saw the court’s role as not to just interpret the law but to “make policy” and perform an end run around the other two branches of government.
Within 24 hours of Sotomayor’s nomination, all three major television networks had the story complete with video clips.
Was this good reporting by investigative journalists or the work of political hit men with an agenda who fed the clips to the networks?
“This process – political activists supplying material for TV news broadcasts – is not new, of course. (But) It has largely replaced the work of on-the-scene reporters during a political campaigns...” writes Bowden.
Bowden concludes his article by saying, “The honest disinterested voice of a true journalist carries an authority that no self-branded liberal of conservative can have.
“Journalism, done right, is enormously powerful precisely because it does not seek power. It seeks truth. Those who forsake it to shill for a produce of a candidate or a party or an ideology diminish their own power.”
– AJ Liebling