True reporters hate TV blathering gasbags and don’t acknowledge there’s any bleed-over from the work of the one to the “conventional wisdom” of the other. They don’t pay attention and they don’t push back, more properly, their editors don’t push back when they see their reporters’ work being misrepresented on Press the Meat and other such bloviation fora. Which is why you get two narratives out there, the one that’s supported by sober, well-informed reporting that benefits us all, and the one that’s full of stuff “everybody knows” like how Whitewater was a scandal and Joh Kerry lied about his medals before he threw them away.
Partly it’s the lure of being on TV that keeps them in line, the idea that the highest ambition a reporter can have is to sit next to Timmeh or Chris Matthews or Greta and have everyone and their mother look on in envy. That kind of exposure leads to book deals and money, and cross-platform promotion, and yeah, sure, it pollutes and destroys the work and turns every story into an attempt to fame-whore your way onto the evening news (someday I will get around to telling the tale of why I left journalism), but it might also be the only way you could get any job security at all, and newsrooms aren’t exactly places to make yourself comfortable these days. Consultants are crawling up everybody’s ass about new media and integration and convergence and most of them only half-understand any of it.
Partly, it’s the idea that people are smarter than they are and can distinguish between Russert and real reporters without being explicitly told anything. Which is such unbelievable crap, but it perpetuates itself, this idea that if we don’t lower ourselves to talk about it, the problem will just resolve on its own. It doesn’t work for strep throat or cancer and it isn’t working here, either. Journalism as a trade, as a craft, has been bunkered down in the root cellar for a couple decades now, while journalism the “profession” has been upstairs kicking democracy’s ass. Bunkered down against job cuts, against corporate greed, against the constant refrain that it’s the newsroom that’s the problem, against howling right-wing bias junkies, against just about everything’s that’s a cosmetic problem while everything that’s an actual problem gets ignored.
Until journalism and journalists start defending themselves, from being lumped in with Timmeh and the like, from having their work mis-characterized and misunderstood, from being kicked in the face over and over and over in service of fame and just assuming that someday the world will wake up, until that happens, there’s still going to be two narratives out there, the writers of both pushing their own and pretending the other doesn’t exist.