Thursday, October 06, 2011
Credit where credit is due: While certainly not missing the opportunity to ascend a couple of his favorite soapboxes, Glenn Greenwald's takedown of newly minted CNN starlet Erin Burnett in yesterday's Salon was pretty spot-on.
Here's the pertinent point about both Burnett and her partner-in-crime on the Wall Street beat, Alison Kosik:
"Needless to say, Burnett and Kosik consider themselves to be opinion-free, objective 'reporters.' Indeed, this is what Burnett said in the Vantiy Fair interview when asked if she sympathizes too much with the Wall Street plutocrats on whom she purports to report: 'My job isn’t to give an opinion but to try and explain what’s happening.' But just like Andrew Ross Sorkin and his protection of and subservience to his 'CEO-of-a-major-bank' friend, these people are oozing bias and opinion from every pore of their being. They are so devoted to and immersed in the insular oligarchical world of which they are desperate to be a part that they know and care about nothing else. Expecting them to provide objective, critical assessments of business elites is like expecting a heroin addict to rat out his dealer."
What he's griping about, correctly to some extent, is that Burnett, Kosik and those like them are naturally going to dismiss and denigrate the Occupy Wall Street movement in its entirety because they're inherently biased against it. They've been granted a backstage pass and it's therefore to be expected that they'll be the first ones on their knees blowing the band. What's more, they don't even realize how prejudiced and untrustworthy they are when it comes to reporting on the economy because all they breathe is rarefied air -- it's literally all they know.
The only problem with Greenwald's argument, of course, is that most journalists bring certain biases with them to their stories -- and not only is Greenwald himself not immune to this, he's one of the worst offenders. Case in point: He draws an immediate connection in the above piece between slanted Wall Street reporting and what he calls the servile stenography that national security correspondents engage in when they report on anyone who supposedly challenges the official word of government officials. He of course uses this line of thinking to explain why anyone working for a mainstream news outlet would have a problem with Julian Assange and Wikileaks. While Greenwald's right to say that access to power, any kind of power, can potentially corrupt your ability to be objective, he's wrong if he assumes that only a subservience to authority would cause someone to rail against Wikileaks. Believe me, I don't have access to a damn thing and I still don't like Julian Assange, nor do I entirely trust his creation or the unchecked influence both of them wield.
Still, the overall point Greenwald makes about the questionable trustworthiness of "insider" correspondents is worth giving credence to. If you can get past his predictably and condescendingly casting himself as journalistic integrity's last man standing, the piece is worth a read.
And by the way, Greenwald isn't the only one taking Erin Burnett apart piece by piece. The Baltimore Sun's absolute evisceration of her as "self-satisfied, smug, privileged and feeling not one whit of (the) pain" of those protesting on Wall Street or those they purport to be standing up for in this country is required reading.