Between the embarrassing New Orleans caper where self-described "journalist" James O'Keefe was arrested after helping infiltrate the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, Jackass-style, to the unhinged State of the Union response from elite members of the right-wing punditocracy (i.e. Obama's an "arrogant," "fake" "jerk"), a disturbing portrait emerged last week that helped confirm the sad state of "conservative journalism" in America today.
And yes, I prefer to put the oxymoronic phrase "conservative journalism" in quotation marks, since it seems to exist more as an idea than a functioning entity. Instead of being in the news gathering or analysis business, "conservative journalism" today appears to be more akin to propaganda/name-calling -- or, thanks to O'Keefe's Keystone Kops routine, more like dirty tricks/propaganda/name-calling.
It's political warfare (or pseudo-journalism) being waged by people who want the protection and prestige that comes with being called a journalist, even though few of them actually practice the craft. It's fueled by thoughtless defamation. And yes, the lack of adult supervision has become glaringly obvious, which is why I can't help wondering what William F. Buckley would make of all this.
Buckley died in 2008, and, of course, is credited with revitalizing modern-day American conservatism. With his magazine, National Review, as well as his three-decade run as the host of the wonky Firing Line on PBS, Buckley also served as the father of conservative journalism in this country, as he worked to cultivate a space where partisan reporters, pundits, and essayists could join the media landscape and influence the public debate. (Ronald Reagan often credited National Review for inspiring him.)
But would Buckley even recognize "conservative journalism" today, where pundits rush to be the first to broadcast their childish Obama taunts? And where sloppy P.T. Barnums like Andrew Breitbart seem to encourage a new generation of "journalists" to skirt the law in the name of vilifying Democrats?
Read the whole Media Matters column here.