Friday, July 27, 2018

Journalism (Part 3)

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

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Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My beautiful muse and back scratcher 
Iggy -- My designated Sticky
Dana -- My designated gentlereader

"Purple journalism is not a new form of journalism, it's just a name for journalism as it's actually practiced nowadays." -me

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,

[Before I forget, King Crank's impending law that will require all news media outlets of a certain size to make a declaration of honesty, will also be expanded to cover the entertainment industry (primarily Hollywood) as well. Details will be worked out by my Privy Council.]

There wasn't supposed to be a part three but a licensed practitioner of the purple press helpfully/recently supplied a perfect example of exactly what I've been on about. Leigh Ann Caldwell, a reporter for NBC News, tweeted out a song that was horribly off key.

["Twitter is the marriage of full-tilt narcissism and full tilt voyeurism that has finally collided in 140 characters." -Adam Goldberg (prior to the 280 update)]

Ms. Caldwell informed the world that the Donald's choice for the newest Supreme, according to the ubiquitous unnamed source, was the result of a secret deal between the Donald and retiring justice Antney Kennedy. (Antney (ant-knee) was how I learned to pronounce Anthony when I was a kid living on the sou'side a Pittsburgh, with an h.)

See, Kennedy agreed to retire while the Donald was in power if he would hire Brett Kavanaugh, one of his former law clerks. She deleted the tweet in short order and then, via yet another tweet, explained how she screwed up, sort of -- without bothering to apologize. Deep purple journalism.


I know it's hard to believe, but the original claim spread like wildfire. Then, of course, the phony/false/mistaken? tweet became a news story unto itself because purveyors of purple journalism delight in attacking other purveyors of purple journalism.


All sorts of kids who hang out on the left side of the playground, who posted the now deleted tweet as factual, didn't risk injuring themselves by running to their keyboards to correct what turned out to be pure bonkercockie.

And then...

An obscure group of kids that call themselves Ultraviolet put out a six-page memo requesting that Senate Democrats investigate the fact that Mr. Kavanaugh once clerked for a Judge Alex Kominski who recently retired after being accused of being a serial groper.

Mr. Kavanaugh clerked for Judge Kominski... for about a year... about two decades ago. So hey, he's probably guilty of something. Let the investigation begin!

That kind of story is the sort of story that would've been perfect for a News That You Can Use Letter. It wound up here because the McClatchy News Service (allegedly professional, objective journalism) reported on the somewhat less than well known Ultraviolets six pages of mudslinging (bright yellow journalism) as if it was an actual news story.

Geez, if I didn't know better I'd think McClatchy was trying to sling mud at Mr. Kavanaugh without getting their hands dirty. That's practicing purple journalism with (semi)plausible deniability. For the record, I read about all this on the PJ Media website.  I'm merely passing along the good work of one Debra Heine. 

Now, given that we're treading water in the Dizzinformation Ocean and that any news that floats by is potentially bogus, the media (and Hollywood) would be performing a public service by declaring their bias up front. 

They could then openly practice advocacy journalism (and entertainment) and commence/continue saving the unenlightened from themselves without the added burden of pretending to be objective. Or, in Hollywood's case, pretending to tell the truth.  

If they were honest and clear about where they are coming from and where they think we should be headed, and why, and admit they're as motivated by profit/regular paychecks as we mere mortals their credibility would improve. Of course when you've got nowhere to go but up... 

[Sorry, sometimes the obvious joke is worth telling.]   

Two more thoughts. First, once the gloves come off they can attack each other, as well as whichever politician/celebrity/freak from the fringes they currently regard as Satan (which they like to do anyway) with unmitigated savagery. No shortage of Citizens of the Republic seem to be able to get enough of this sort of thing. Keep the mob happy and perhaps save a newspaper or two. Win/win. 

Also, just for the fun of it, to make the game more interesting, let's make it illegal to quote unnamed sources of any sort while simultaneously permitting the release of any sort of document -- as long as the H. sapien that leaked it is identified -- while enforcing any and all laws concerning the release of classified information.

Wouldn't that make things interesting... Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.

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©2018 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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