The journalistic mind

Mark Halperin of Time provides some important insight into the behavior of his colleagues

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The journalistic mindMark Halperin, editor-at-large at Time. (Credit: (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki))

(updated below [Thurs.])

Few media behaviors are more pitiful than the intense fixation over the “Veepstakes”: a word that is at once nauseatingly vapid and yet incomparably valuable as a symbol of our nation’s pointless, juvenile political media. Time‘s Mark Halperin, needless to say, has a column today all about the “Veepstakes,” which begins by his proud announcement that he’s “covered all of these since 1992.” Tapping into his deep well of Veepstakes wisdom, he shares 10 “fundamentals” about this process (keep your eye on Drudge!); here is one of them:

What’s worse: that they think this way, or that they are willing to admit to other people and to themselves that they do? How, as a journalist, do you hear yourself uttering such obsequious, demeaning tripe and not jump off the nearest bridge? That’s truly a mystery to me: almost impressive.

Behold our tough, intrepid, adversarial press corps. If there’s an afterlife, I feel sorry for the American Founders: imagine how they must feel looking down on all of this, thinking about all the work they did to enact a First Amendment to protect press freedoms, and wondering why they bothered. And I wonder what these “journalists” did to make them believe that the presidential campaign they cover “owes them”? Actual journalists think that their “careers will be made” if they expose serious wrongdoing on the part of those in power; these people think their careers will be made if they get to run in front of an MSNBC or CNN camera and announce Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential pick 11 seconds before everyone else announces it (what Jay Rosen derides as an “ego scoop”). The latter view about what is career-making is probably more accurate than the former, which explains most everything.

 



UPDATE [Thurs.]: I was unaware when I made my observation about the Founders that John Adams closed a 1777 letter to his wife Abigail with this thought:

Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.

If Heaven had the misfortune of subscribing to Time (or, more likely, receiving it for free as a consolation prize for a failed sweepstakes entry), then a moment of silence is warranted to lament Adams’ pain. Then again, if Adams has access to Time in the afterlife, then he’s most certainly not in Heaven.

Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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