By now you have probably heard about how ABC’s investigative journalist Brian Ross was once again horribly wrong when he decided for some reason or another to alert his viewers to the existence of a Tea Party member with a similar name to that of the Aurora Colorado shooter. While this act was obviously beyond irresponsible, the hypocrisy and myopia amongst those who are calling him out for his dumbassery also needs to be mentioned. Television journalism is a swamp of inaccurate information and terrible analysis, so singling out one individual to sacrifice for the sins of an entire industry seems to be an inadequate response to the problem.
Lets first take a good look at another prominent newscaster whose work is also consistently terrible; Wolf Blitzer. As I mentioned yesterday, I like most other Americans in times of crisis, tuned into the news on Friday in order to get my fill of updated information concerning what was going on in Colorado. On CNN, I was treated to Wolf Blitzer first entertain the asinine oracle readings of some wannabe-Nancy Grace former prosecutor who speculated to the “long term psychopathy” of the shooter, when literally all we knew of the guy was his name. After that spectacle Blitzer went on to personally endorse such wonderfully irrelevant and counterproductive ideas such as banning costumes in movie theaters or installing metal detectors everywhere. This form of stupidity disguised as “conventional wisdom” is pretty much pro-forma for Mr. Blitzer, but he also engaged in this questionable problem solving while simultaneously dismissing any possible arguments for stricter gun control. Why did Blitzer see this issue as a non-starter? Perhaps as the titular face of a powerful media outlet Blitzer actually believes that he has no role in defining the narrative behind any actual political solution to this obvious problem (or he’s just a well compensated hack). Where are the hordes of people demanding that Blitzer finally stop doing whatever the hell he does in the Situation Room every day?
One of the more notable and harshest assessments of Mr. Ross’ performance from Friday came not surprisingly from Jon Stewart. Last night Mr. Stewart took Ross to task for lazily Googling the name of the shooter, and then failing to check the facts behind this “finding” involving the Tea Party in order to craft some salacious narrative revolving around a political motivation for the act. This issue incensed the fine sociopaths at Brietbart to call for Ross’ head, and Stewart continued their exact complaint to the airwaves without mentioning the fact that Breitbart itself basically did the exact same goddamn thing later that day. In fact being wrong about a story that Brietbart first pushed is kind of a trend for Stewart now, as he was one of the people who fell hook line and sinker for Breitbart’s bullshit James O’Keefe expose. Furthermore, if Stewart wanted to attack the embodiment of what is wrong in journalism he might have started with his guest that night, Fareed Zakaria. The CNN host continues to exist as a high priest of hackery, most notably in his support for the war in Iraq and his hysterically terrible bluster about public sector unions and benefit packages. For someone whose entire career has been defined by a self-righteous crusade against bad journalism, Stewart himself is increasingly becoming a rather obvious hypocrite.
Like I have said before, it is becoming evident that Stewart’s colleague at Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert, is quickly assuming the title of “most trusted name in news”. Last night Colbert provided a pitch perfect assessment of the idiotic response from Brian Ross, but he also took time to address the hypocrisy in focusing attacks solely on that one individual.
Colbert’s finest line of the night came when he simply stated that there was “nothing” to say about the shooting given the tiny amount of time that has passed since the incident, and that anyone who was actually speaking about what happened was merely “repeating nothing”. This issue identified by Colbert is the ultimate truth behind the plague of idiocy running rampant throughout television journalism, and it cannot be repeated enough. The sin of being wrong in one’s reporting is forgivable, but to pretend that it is somehow limited to a handful of people and is not instead a systemic issue inherent in the industry is just silly.