Journalism pretty much bites these days. Wait, first a disclaimer. I’ve already voted for Obama. And another. While I was watching Dancing With The Stars last night I kept thinking it would be fun to do the horizontal mambo with Sarah Palin. I know. I’m losing it.
But, hey. That’s far from the nastiest thing anyone has said about Palin in the last few weeks. And at least I had the hockey pucks to put it in print where readers would know who said it — namely, me. All too often these days you see something in print or online and you have no idea who is saying it. Or if it is even true. Who is to say that a reporter/writer just doesn’t make something up to support the point he or she wants to make? It happens. And regardless of whether the quote is unattributed or made up, it bites.
Here’s an example. Rachel Weiner, writing in The Huffington Post, Palin a “Whack Job,” Top McCain Adviser Says:
One of John McCain’s advisers recently called his running mate Sarah Palin a “diva” after she went off-script at a rally, and suggested she was looking after her own political future over the current campaign. Now another adviser ups the ante in a conversation with the Politico’s Playbook, labeling Palin a “whack job.”
Wow. Two unnamed McCain advisers in one paragraph. Sweet. And I tried without luck to find the original story on Politico’s Playbook, without success. But Chris Mathews was talking about it on his show, Hardball, so it must be true. Well, maybe not.
At least two problems here. Are the statements even true? And if so, what’s the credibility of the “advisers”? That’s a matter of journalism ethics. It should be important, but I get the sense that it’s not really these days. And it will most likely become even less so as the old media give way to the new.
Second, I think it is fair to criticize Palin — and any other candidate — on her or his record and experience. I think Palin’s resume is way too thin to be a serious candidate for vice president. There, I said it on the record. But I didn’t have to be nasty, or uncivil, about it. And that’s a problem.
We are so polarized as a nation that we can no longer have a thoughtful debate on important issues. That’s a shame because this election should be more than about clothes and associations with people from the 60s. Good grief. And even if Obama and the Democrats in Congress sweep the elections and govern with a real majority, we’ll still be a nation very much divided red state and blue.
The reason: civility. I’ve written about this previously and I believe it is important. We can teach — or at least try to teach — accounting, finance, management, public relations strategy, whatever — but apparently we can’t teach civility or ethics. Maybe we should try.
Oh. I was thinking about this while running in the cold and drizzle this morning. Ted Stevens says he isn’t going to abandon his bid for re-election to the Senate in Alaska despite the annoyance of a criminal conviction. Suppose he wins — and then the Senate forces him to resign?
Could Sarah Palin appoint herself to complete his term?
Then she would be a Washington insider — and ready to go in 2012.
In that case, ah, just kidding about the horizontal mambo reference.