Veteran journalist Carl Bernstein unleashed a tirade against House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and “his Republicans” on Wednesday’s Morning Joe. After co-host Mika Brzezinski read a passage from Thomas Friedman’s scathing indictment of Tea Party Republicans in The New York Times, Bernstein promised, “I’ll go farther than Friedman.” He certainly did: “Eric Cantor and his Republican Party are the most dangerous demagogic force in American politics since Joe McCarthy.”
Wow. That’s a serious accusation by the well-known investigative reporter. But there was more. According to Bernstein, President Obama’s new purpose is to protect the country from these demagogues: [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
The craziness keeps gushing from Chris Matthews’ mouth like a waterfall. On Tuesday morning, Matthews was anchoring MSNBC’s coverage of President Obama’s third news conference of the year. (Why they didn’t get a real journalist to anchor the coverage, I don’t know.) While waiting for the news conference to begin, Matthews and an array of panelists were discussing the gun control battle that they recently lost. The exasperated analysts seemed to agree that the background check bill failed in the Senate because gun rights advocates were more intense and single-minded than gun control advocates.
Matthews, picking up on this idea, attempted to glorify the gun control crowd: “Let's keep reminding ourselves that a lot of people who are for gun safety also are for world peace, also for jobs, also for the environment. People who are for guns are for guns.” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Newly minted Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Tea Party politician, is "raising bipartisan hackles" and otherwise being a "bad boy" in the previously collegial U.S. Senate, opined political reporter Jonathan Weisman on the front page of Saturday's New York Times: "Texas Senator Goes on Attack And Raises Bipartisan Hackles."
Clearly disturbed about Cruz's treatment of Obama's nominee for defense secretary Chuck Hagel, reporter Weisman even put a mike in front of not one but two liberal Democratic senators who likened Cruz to notorious Sen. Joe McCarthy. Well, at least Cruz is liked by what Weisman called "ardent conservatives."
Fifty years from now, everyone will agree that Karl Rove committed treason by revealing the identity of CIA "spy" Valerie Plame, tea partiers shouted the N-word at a black congressman and Duke lacrosse players gang-raped a stripper. Liberals tell whopping lies, and most conservatives can't be bothered to learn history.
In the last few days, we've heard both George Will and Charles Krauthammer, otherwise intelligent people, repeating bogus Democratic talking points about how Joe McCarthy allegedly smeared innocents with false allegations.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) isn't alone in having trouble understanding how the government is organized. In a Sunday article posted on the Chicago Sun-Times's Web site, staff reporter Mary Houlihan credits the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) with running the House Committee on Un-American Activities. That would have been quite an accomplishment, given the fact McCarthy never served in the House of Representatives.
Houlihan writes of photographer Milton Rogovin, who died last month. After military service during World War II, Rogovin "organized a chapter of the optometrists’ union and served as librarian for the Communist Party of Buffalo."
Then the inevitable happened. In October 1957, Rogovin was caught in the net cast by the House Un-American Activities Committee helmed by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. It was the waning days of the Communist witch hunt, and the experience would change Rogovin’s life.
In the 1950s, as then-Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R., Wis.) and his House Committee on Un-American Activities investigated liberal and progressive artists in search of Communist-oriented dissidents, Hellman and Bernstein collaborated on what would become one of several major works fomented by government activities: the play and film Cradle Will Rock, and Arthur Miller’s play and opera The Crucible are others.
Sometimes, readers must wonder if newspaper correspondents ever passed a class in basic civics. If journalists had, they’d know that Congress consists of two bodies, the House and the Senate. A member of one body doesn’t chair a committee from the other. No Senator – not even Joe McCarthy – could run a House committee. A clue might have been that his title was senator rather than congressman or representative, but perhaps that's expecting too much.
(Note: This is about a local Northeastern Ohio column, but deals with a media bias issue of broad significance.)
What Feagler revealed gets to the very heart of journalism's failure, why blogs exist, why many news consumers pay attention to them (in fact, feel that they must), and why they matter.
I really want to admire guys like Dick Feagler (and the relatively few gals, back in the day). Their telephones, steel trap memories, and Rolodexes were the "databases" of that era. They worked, and their modern counterparts still work, in an underpaid, underappreciated job that, when done correctly, is something you don't clock out of, and can go crazy in the blink of an eye. The Dick Feaglers used the old-fashion tools and applied the old-fashioned work ethic to do their jobs as best they could. Their successors are typically doing the same, with better tools.
But that avoids the real question: What was, and still is, their job?