The Good Guys
Think Progress brings to our attention an excellent riposte by Jonathan Landay (of Knight-Ridder) to a letter written by Iraqi con-man Ahmad Chalabi to the Columbia Journalism Review. Just click here to read Chalabi's deceptive attempt to excuse himself and the Iraqi National Congress of the travesty they indulged in to help draw America into a ruinous and unnecessary war -- and then scroll down to read Landay's response.
Landay's response reminded me of his (and his collegues') incredible journalism on the issue of Iraq. One of the things I have been meaning to point out for some time is that progressives should do more to highlight good journalism in the mainstream media. Granted, our expectations are high - i.e., there is a tendency to understandably label good journalism as journalism (as in, "that's their job, dammit!"). But, the best journalists today (especially those covering controversial topics or topics that reveal the true colors of the Bush administration) are not only under severe pressure from the right-wing misinformation machine, but they are also under significant pressure from their editors and higher-ups to rely on the "he-said, she-said" game and to downplay unpleasant facts about the Bushies - rather than call a spade a spade. In the middle of all this, it sometimes does take uncommon courage and determination to deliver good journalism.
In fact, there's good journalism and there's outstanding journalism. Loosely speaking, I'd say that the former is journalism that is factual and shows a real interest in the values of the profession. The latter goes well beyond "good", displays a willingness to call a spade a spade, and builds the kind of rock-solid credibility required to obtain the kind of critical information that is almost impossible to get on a day-to-day basis.
Being a "media critic", I do regret not having spent more time applauding good and outstanding journalism in the mainstream media. This is an attempt to correct that by recognizing and applauding a few people for starters (this list is by no means exhaustive) for their outstanding journalism and to thank them for having been the rare pockets of sanity and quality in what used to be called the free press of the U.S. (something that I had long believed, mistakenly, in my apolitical life before 9/11, until the Iraq issue unfolded starting in Fall 2002). So, here are some names that immediately come to mind.
- Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel of Knight-Ridder. Here is a link that contains many of their exceptional articles on Iraq.
- Walter Pincus of the Washington Post for his - click here for an article about his work on Iraq.
- Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker (which, I concede, is not exactly what I would call a "mainstream media" outlet :-)).
In fact, let me also point out that I particularly like the Washington Post more than any other newspaper in the country because they have a group of very talented, good reporters (like Dana Priest and Barton Gellman, for example). This is not to say these reporters (or the ones above) are infallible, but they have produced some excellent reporting when given the opportunity to do so (by their editors).
What I have tried to do here is to start something I have been planning to (and hope to continue once I'm done with the media analysis project I am currently working on). Just as much as the Brit Humes, Carl Camerons and William Safires of the world deserve Phony Awards, we need to also be up front in issuing Journalism Awards to the real men and women in the journalism profession. And I say that as a "media critic" who strongly recognizes that much of my "criticism" of the MSM would not be possible without the reporting of the MSM.