Saturday, November 19, 2005

How Watergate Ruined Journalism

With Bob Woodward in the news again, I've had an epiphany. I've been trying to figure out for months now what has happened to the MSM? Why does it appear that they are no longer able to do the job that is one of the few careers with explicit Constitutional protections?

I think you can blame Woodward and Bernstein for the sorry mess that the world of journalism has become.

They didn't do it on purpose. In fact, the reporting team was just doing what they were supposed to. Everybody forgets that Wood-Stein (as their editor was apt to call them) didn't start out to bring down a President. In fact, Woodward was a court reporter who happened to be in court when the Watergate burgalers were being arraigned. He found it curious that the men's court appointed attorney had been relieved in favor of a private attorney when none of the men had even made a phone call. So he started digging.

(Another piece of information that people tend to forget is that Woodward was a fairly inexperienced reporter at the time, though he had good instincts. This is why he was paired up with Bernstein when the story started to grow.)

When you look at the story about the story, it really is classic investigative journalism. And the thing of it is, it was never about trying to bring down the President. But now, because it's been done once, we have everybody and their brother trying to blow up a tank with a B-B gun. Everybody wants to be the next Wood-Stein and they forget that Wood-Stein never set out to create a result. They simply followed the story. They were in the right place at the right time, put two and two together and asked questions. They did their job.

Many of today's journalists aren't doing their job. They're too busy trying to make their name. They want to be the next Bob Woodward. But how many of these Woodward wannabes do you see covering the arraignments of hookers, muggers, and burgalers?


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